The Minibar CrowdI’m always on the lookout for new technologies that will make businesses, and people, more effective and productive. My latest port of call was the February London BarCamp minibar meet up.

TechCrunch UK‘s Mike Butcher was there to shepherd the evening’s five minute speaker slots along, and ask the questions that make a web business shuffle on the spot, including the especially awkward: “How are you going to make money?”

Margaret Gold presented Vodaphone‘s Betavine developer community. The mobile phone (cell phone, or my favourite: the handy) has taken great leaps forward in functionality since the days of the two and a half tonne grey Motorola brick.

However, it hasn’t contributed much to an increase in productivity since those early days. We are more in touch, through SMS and mobile data connectivity, but widespread productivity applications are few and far between.

I hope we’ll see some new applications through the likes of Betavine, and initiatives like Google’s Android, that ease the burden of developing mobile applications. The mobile phone stands in the special ground between the personal and the business worlds. To date consumer applications have dominated. Enterprises should be developing business applications too, but are hampered by the range of handsets and network functionality. presented their social network for video games. Despite my games console collection, not an area of interest for me. However it did make me realise how dominant Facebook has become in the social networking space. I found myself wondering how Vigster might compete against a Facebook app, and what the equivalent business social network applications might be.


Xavier Damman gave a demonstration of the upcoming WordPress plugin Commentag. Essentially this enables the tagging, by authors, of comments. It looked very pretty, although I’m not sure if users will go to the extent of tagging their comments, even though it increases discoverability.

Tagging is a powerful information management technique, and the main reason I use TiddlyWiki as a productivity tool. However, the future of tagging is for tags to be computer generated. We aren’t there yet. Folksonomies, that is group-based collaborative tagging, holds out some hope in the mean-time.


The presentation of graffywall piqued my curiosity. Essentially it is a shared infinite canvas. Antonio Lopes took it through its paces. It needed some ambient music to really set it off, and make the whole thing even more surreal. Imagine an infinite space where the whole world can simultaneously draw. Very experimental.

Shared white board applications have been very underused. A big screen and a pen tablet really brings this technology to life, and it a great way to interact with remote workers. I have been inspired to dig out the pen tablet for my Mac.

Nick Haltsted was there, talking about the development of tweetmeme, which will interest Twitter fans. Nick is better known for aggregator (explained on the about page). More on them, and the world of crowd sourcing later. They are hiring, apparently: hiring

An interesting event, supported by BBC Innovation and O’Reilly, with some food for thought and opportunity to meet and greet for the London crowd.