Why I backed the Shoreditch Village Hall


There’s a huge, active & still-growing startup and tech scene in London’s Shoreditch area. But a scene is one thing, a community is yet another – and communities grow, among other things, around spaces.

I’m not based in London, but I’m there frequently, and usually try to spend some time meeting people and hanging out there. Mostly, this happens either in cafés that don’t mind laptop warriors (Look Mum, No Hands!), or I stay with friends who can offer me a desk for the day. The latter is particularly nice, but it also means imposing on friends.

That’s why I back the Shoreditch Village Hall on Kickstarter with at least a small amount: It’s going to be a true community space run by lovely and very capable people from the Shoreditch community, in fact the same who are also behind Shoreditch Works. A space both for Shoreditch and of Shoreditch, so to speak.

For me, it’s going to be something like a home-away-from-home during the days I spend in London, a place to meet old and new friends and a meeting place that doesn’t mean I have to impose on friends or hog a café table all day.

So if you’re based in London, or happen to be there regularly, or just like to help foster a strong community of smart and ambitious people, consider supporting the Shoreditch Village Hall.

Diaspora, an open Facebook?



A few weeks ago, four recent NYU graduates announced – to the background noise of the latest (of many) major Facebook privacy fail – that they intended to build a privacy-focuses, decentralized, open-source alternative to Facebook. A social network, installed on a server of your choice, the data controlled by you alone.

Their fundraising period just ended. Instead of the $10K they had planned to raise, they got some $200K in pledges on Kickstarter.

There are several interesting points here: (1) these four young guys seem fairly inexperienced, yet they are a main focal point of hope for a large & growing number of privacy concerned web heads, including myself, so they get all the attention and are in a very interesting place right now. (2) After their initial announcement and the following hype (both on blogs and traditional media) they fell practically silent for several weeks. Which didn’t go down to well with many including myself, but others are more forgiving that way. (3) How can they match the expectations? Is there even a clear consensus about where the road should lead? Can they manage to pull of the first steps towards a prototype and open source quickly enough to engage the community, including some of the veterans of this field like Chris Messina and David Recordon (who both work for big companies now)?

As of yesterday, the Diaspora website is relaunched and also offers the Diaspora roadmap (PDF). Looks like late summer is still the first big milestone. From the (very top-level) roadmap, and with my very limited knowledge about the technical background of social networking and distributed computing, the project seems to be sensible. I really hope the four of them manage to pull off the first steps quickly enough to get more people and support on board.

This is potentially huge. But so is the chance of screwing up. And they just put a lot of stuff on a plate that’s growing by the day.

Image: IMG_4567, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from nearnearfuture’s photostream