Creative Camp Returns To Belfast

Creative Camp in Belfast December 3rd
Creative Camp in Belfast December 3rd

Creative Camp is returning to Belfast and it’s coming up pretty soon – this Friday to be precise.

Blick Studios and Trans Urban Arts are linking up to bring back Creative Camp, the free unconference for people from all walks of creative life. If you’re familiar with the BarCamp / BizCamp style setup then you’ll find yourself right at home with Creative Camp.

It’s being held at the Blick Studios building in Belfast and kicks off at 10am on Friday.

The blurb…

CREATIVE CAMP is a free un-conference event for people who are passionate about creativity and want to make things happen. CREATIVE CAMP is an event designed to combine the best of creativity, business and technology in a unique format to encourage networking, collaboration and peer on peer learning. Participants are invited to give talks, do demonstrations, and show their work and it is these participants who then set the agenda, decide on topics and generate the content, demos and portfolio presentations.

The event’s purpose is for people from creative industries to meet, network, and learn from each other. This includes Graphic and Web Designers and Developers, Artists, Filmmakers, Photographers, Musicians, Fashion Designers, Students, Educators, entrepreneurs and any other creative practitioners who have ideas, innovations, experience or inspiration they want to share.

Registration is closed for the event, such is the demand, but they are operating a waiting list system. If you want on it, drop an email to info@blickstudios.org or stop by CreativeCampBelfast.co.uk for all the details.

KLCK Bloggers Network In Kildare

KLCK Bloggers Network in Kilkenny
KLCK gathering in Kilkenny, pic via Amanda Webb

The second Monday of the month is almost upon us which means the next KLCK Bloggers Network meeting is just around the corner as well. I was invited along as a guest speaker for last month’s gathering which took place in Kilkenny. 18 or so people made the night, the good numbers sparking some interesting conversation about blog promotion, mailing lists, WordPress plugins and the like.

The November gathering takes place this coming Monday at the Johnstown Business Centre in Johnstown, Co. Kildare.

We have an excellent speaker lined up for the night. John O’Connor from Red Oak Tax Refunds will be talking about measuring the success of our blog and we are introducing a round table discussion on how to find inspiration for our blogs. We are hoping that this round table discussion will encourage more knowledge sharing amongst the group and enable novice bloggers to get more from our meetups.

It’s shaping up to be a great meeting and as always …

The network is aimed at connecting bloggers new and experienced in counties Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny with the meetups rotating between every month.

It’s a 7pm kick off, there’s no charge to go along and if you’re new to blogging, looking to build your blog or just get out and about for tea and chat,then Johnstown Business Centre is the place to be on Monday evening. You can follow the group’s activities on Facebook.

Talking Plugins With KLCK Bloggers Network

Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel

I don’t usually go out of my way to speak at events or gatherings, social, business or otherwise. But when Keith Bohanna asked if I could fill in for him at last night’s KLCK Bloggers Network gathering in Kilkenny I figured I couldn’t say no, the event being on my doorstep and all.

I would equate the gathering last night to something akin to Open Coffee only minus the coffee and a bit more formal. The KLCK Bloggers Network was formed by Amanda Webb (of Spiderworking.com, in the running for best videocaster at this year’s Irish Web Awards) and Lorna Sixsmith of Garendenny Lane who I had met previously at Kilkenny Open Coffee (also turns out we’re both writing for a Carlow magazine). The event itself was held in the Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel who were providing one of their conference rooms complete with projector, screen, notepads, pens, all you would need to run an event like it.

While I was the second speaker on the night (which worked out a treat in terms of the content), Marie Ennis-O’Connor was first up to bat leading a great talk on driving additional traffic to your blog, from starting out as a blogger to building a community around your blog through email, comments, guest blogging and more. The audience (about 18/19 of us there) was a mix of beginner and experienced bloggers with some people simply coming in to get an understanding of what blogging is and does for people.

My own talk was quickly cobbled together yesterday on the back of what I call my WordPress toolbox – the plugins I deem essential to any WordPress installation and ones that I keep handy in a zip file whenever I’m starting a new blog either for myself or a client but I felt it went well for something that was a technical overview of additions you can make to your WordPress blog for the both the admin side of things and your theme out front. You can get the list of plugins and links here on Slideshare. The slides also feature a glimpse of the new branding I’m rolling out across the business later in the month.

Last night was the fourth monthly gathering of the network which heads to Kildare for November and should be back in Kilkenny come February or March. The name – KLCK – is an aconym for Kildare Laois Carlow and Kilkenny and they’re actively looking for topics for discussion that would benefit all in attendance, along with speakers. If the rest of the gatherings are along the lines of last night then they’ll be well worth heading along to. Having it hosted in the Pembroke created an opportunity for people to stay on for drinks and further the conversation in the bar but there’s signs there of a good group and network in the making, with everyone being able to contribute on some level from the own experiences. One thing I did note though is that for the 18 people in the room, there were only four men around the table, one of them being me as a speaker for the evening. Makes a change from the male-dominated Open Coffee mornings in Kilkenny.

That said, it’s also opened me up to the notion that I need to get to more events. Outside of Kilkenny, I think Media2020 and the Blog Awards in Galway were the only events I’ve been to for the year. Time to get back on the road, maybe as far as Kildare for the second Monday in November…

Kilkenny Open Coffee for May

first attempt, pouring hot chocolate like latte art
Creative Commons License photo credit: insidious_plots

THE NEXT gathering of Kilkenny Open Coffee is tomorrow morning (Wednesday 5th) at Kilkenny Cafe, Market Cross Shopping Centre on High St., Kilkenny. All are welcome, whether you’re involved in business, technology, a web worker, home worker, artist or otherwise. Come along, tell us what you’re up to, bring a friend, plug your business, website and meet new people working (quite possibly) in the same sector as yourself. This will be the fifth meetup of the year and I’ll be looking to get back to KOCC tomorrow morning myself having missed last month’s outing.

If you’re coming along, we usually meet up at 11am at the back of Kilkenny Cafe (around the couches and bigger tables). There’s usually some type of offer available on coffee / tea / scones etc., free wifi available and powerpoints on the floor too for anyone bringing a laptop along, though admittedly laptops are rare at the Kilkenny mornings.

You can follow Kilkenny Open Coffee on Twitter or check the map here. For those cycling / driving, there is plenty of parking available in Market Cross car park with bike bays available on street level as well.

BarCamp Belfast May 22nd

BarCamp Belfast

REGISTRATION is open and underway for BarCamp Belfast, taking place at the University of Ulster on Saturday May 22nd. Already in the pipeline for talks are Freedom of Information … for coders and bloggers, Hyperlocal Belfast (would hyperlocal blogging work in Belfast), Location, Location, Location (looking at smarter phones and the mobile web in 2010), Making money out of fresh air (bootstrapping your startup), Project Management With a Client Focus (keeping your clients involved in the web development process).

There’s a list of attendees there as long as your arm already and it won’t cost you anything to attend.

After many promises to go north over the last few years, I made the trip to BarCamp Belfast last April (would be this weekend coming). If you can, it’s worth trying to make a weekend of it. As it was I’d made all the morning sessions before disappearing for lunch and finding myself caught up wandering around the streets of Belfast. Plenty to see and do, a ridiculous amount of places to eat and drink (or shop if you’re so inclined, including an Apple store).

Last year’s ship was run very well, great talks, great people, great buzz about those in attendance and I still managed to run into a few familiar places. I’d booked myself into the Premier Inn last year, which is grand in terms of accommodation and food but the parking is a no-no and wifi costs (I think) £10 for a 24-hour pass, the most of which you’d be sleeping or out and about. Andy might have suggestions on somewhere close by that has parking and free wifi access (can’t for the life of me remember the name of the hotel you’d suggested!).

Signups are here and follow the herd on Twitter.

Gearing Up For The Irish Blog Awards

Irish Blog Awards

A GUARANTEED good night out, solid entertainment, old faces and new and more have been found at the Irish Blog Awards for the last couple of years. Last year saw the first night to be held out of Dublin when hundreds of bloggers descended on Cork’s International Airport Hotel (cracking venue) and at the end of the month, the annual pilgrimage will be made to the Radisson Blu in Galway for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards.

The long lists came out, then the slightly-longer-that-last-year-short-lists came out and we’ll soon be reading the finalists lists before the awards proper on Saturday March 27th where we’ll find out who the blogging public have deemed the creme of 2009/10 in Irish blogging circles.

Sabrina has details on the L’Onglex Ladies Tea Party, there’s a Galway photowalk being organised, another exhibition from Eolai and no doubt a hell of a lot more.

My last visit to Galway was September 2008 with myself and Ross hitting the road for a Strike Anywhere gig in Cuba. Thankfully this time I won’t have to turn around and drive back to Kilkenny at midnight. If the awards have taught me anything over the last few years it’s if you can stay in the awards venue – stay in the awards venue. The drinking, chatting, storytelling, meeting and greeting never seems to end and as a bonus you get to do it all over again at breakfast the following morning.

If you’re planning on heading along on the night, you’ll need to register in advance. Tickets have also gone on sale for €15. A pre-show text message on Wednesday told me I’d be shortlisted under Best Technology blog, something I’m delighted to see. The second round of judging, where the shortlists become the finalists, gets underway from today but nominated in the end or not, you’ll find me in Galway on the 27th.

Wouldn’t miss a night like it…

March Open Coffee in Kilkenny

House Blend Coffee - Weak Skinny Flat White - Auction Rooms Cafe AUD3.30
Creative Commons License photo credit: avlxyz

OPEN COFFEE in Kilkenny for the month of March takes place this Wednesday morning at 11am in the Kilkenny Cafe. If you’re living local and you’ve not had the opportunity to drop in to Open Coffee then why not join us on Wednesday morning. The crowd that usually gather are a blend of web workers, home workers, IT workers who take the time once a month to grab a cup of coffee, chat about projects people are currently working on, maybe offer up a demonstration, chat about web-related events and news.

There’s free wifi, power points for laptops and you’ll find the group in the back of the Kilkenny Cafe (up the steps to the meeting area) in Market Cross Shopping Centre. There’s no charge, no obligation to talk, just come along and pull up a seat. The meeting time was changed recently to cater for those visiting from Waterford via train with Market Cross a ten minute walk from the train station. If you’re driving or cycling, you’ll find ample parking in the Market Cross Car Park on James’ Street (entrance via James’ Street or Parliament Street) and if you’re walking through Kilkenny you’ll find the main entrance to Market Cross on High Street with Kilkenny Cafe in the corner of the ground floor.

See KilkennyOpenCoffee.com, follow Kilkenny Open Coffee on Twitter or check the map here.

Speed Networking comes to Kilkenny

business card stack
Creative Commons License photo credit: petter palander

SPEED NETWORKING, by definition, can be described as

A method of making a potential business contact by briefly talking to people at an organized event and exchanging contact details.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it. Networking opportunities are available every day of the week and we’ve had and seen some great successes out of contacts made on Open Coffee mornings, BarCamps, PodCamps, BusinessCamps, CreativeCamps and more. While the bigger events usually mean a day trip away to Dublin / Cork / Galway or elsewhere, a new dedicated speed networking event has been announced a little closer to home.

Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce intend holding it’s first of four speed networking events in the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel on the 9th February 2010 from 6-8pm. There is no charge for Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce members or Kilkenny County Enterprise Board clients.

Those interested in attending the first of the speed networking nights should contact Billy O’ Neill at (056) 7752767 or email billy.oneill@kilkennychamber.ie or visit www.kilkennychamber.ie.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait until next Monday, why not join the table at Kilkenny Open Coffee this Wednesday morning at 11am in the Kilkenny Cafe at Market Cross Shopping Centre. Admittedly I’ve always preferred the informal networking opportunities presented by the likes of Open Coffees and BarCamps to those of organised networking events but with more and more people starting to go out on their own, it can pay to get out and get talking, whether formally or informally.

Open Coffee, Not Just About Wifi

Latte Art
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lucy James Photography

OPEN COFFEE. It’s not just about wifi. In fact, it’s not about wifi at all. It’s not a gathering of people around laptops, programming in the corner of a coffee shop. It’s not over elaborate demos of bandwidth-heavy project developments. At least those points are valid for Kilkenny anyway.

Open Coffee is about the people.

The people who are working for themselves. The people who are working online or in an online-connected environment. The people who want to learn or share internet experiences whether personal or professional.

Yes, the wifi helps and if it’s available it will likely get used to pull email during the morning, allow people check in to the office, push photos out to twitter etc. But at the end of the day, it’s the conversation that counts.

Barring the odd slip of an iPhone onto the table when the conversation turned to Foursquare yesterday at Kilkenny Open Coffee, there wasn’t a hint of a laptop or netbook to be seen. Mobile phone reception in our current venue is dour at the best of times, but it’s the conversation that counts. Further insights into dbTwang, technical writing for the US markets, outsourcing to South Africa, travel in Prague, location-based services, iPhone app development and more were up for discussion yesterday. All over a few pots of tea before everyone went back to their homes and offices for another month.

For me personally, I take it as a great chance to get out of the office, if just to meet up with familiar and new faces – once in a month – for a tea and a chat. Spending as long as I do in the office or working from the house (both by myself), it does good to get out and about when the opportunity presents itself.

If you’re thinking on coming along next month, we’ll likely be getting together on Wednesday February 3rd, same OCC time, same OCC channel. Details here and map here. Actually, rumour has we’ll be bringing it forward to 11am instead of 11:30am to suit those who take the train and give out free pens.

If it’s your first time going along, don’t worry about a laptop. Bring a pen and paper, or a business card, or just yourself.

One Year Of Kilkenny Open Coffee

Double espresso
Creative Commons License photo credit: Maria Keays

TOMORROW WILL mark the first anniversary of Open Coffee in Kilkenny.

The first Wednesday of every month in Kilkenny sees a gathering of local business types, entrepreneurs, homeworkers, techies, non-techies and more meet for coffee at Kilkenny Cafe in the Market Cross Shopping Centre, usually from 11:30am to about 1pm. Tomorrow, being the first Wednesday of the month, will be no different.

The last twelve months have seen mornings of 2-3 people through to double figures. There’s nothing strict about the gathering – you don’t have to be involved in a technology startup, you don’t have to be a web designer or web worker, you don’t even have to be from Kilkenny. People drop in, people drop out, some people come along for a half hour, some people stay for the morning and beyond but whoever is there on the day, the conversation is always good with the ideas and chats in plentiful supply.

Of course, the majority of us that go along to the morning would drive, so weather-pending, we’ll have a nice turnout for tomorrow morning.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, have a story to tell, a business idea to plug, want to get out of the house or office and grab a cup of tea or coffee with people working (quite possibly) in a similar space to yourself, then drop along to the Kilkenny Cafe in Market Cross any time from 11:30am to 1pm. We’re usually found up in the meeting area at the back, in on the right. There’s free wifi, usually a few offers on tea, scones, lunches or whatever you’re into food and beverage-wise.

For those driving, there’s parking available in the Market Cross car park with entrances off James’ Street or Parliament Street, while for those walking you can enter Market Cross via James’ Street or High Street with the Kilkenny Cafe located on the ground floor in the corner, next to Penney’s.

See here for a map or visit KilkennyOpenCoffee.com to find out what’s been happening at the last few meetups.