Archive for February, 2007

London entrepreneurs Open Coffee meetup

February 28, 2007

Saul Klein has been blogging in his “Y Europe” posts about the hot entrepreneurial possibilities now available in and around London – arguing in his original posting and followup analysis that the combination of mood, confidence, density of talent, and Euro-initiated global success stories like Skype and Last.FM have now made Europe, and London in particular, second only to Silicon Valley in terms of possibilities for getting things cooking among investors, new startups, young hackers, and the rest of the mix needed to create a self-perpetuating series of big successes.

To put his money where his mouth is (which, in fact, is precisely one of the things he does for a living) he has set up the Regent St. London Open Coffee Club Meetup, and written about it here , with latest attendee updates here.

Saul writes:

This is an attempt to establish recognized, open and regular meeting places where entrepreneurs can meet with investors (and anyone else who fancies coming along) in a totally informal setting. The key is a regular place and a regular time – it’s not important who comes along, some days it might be no one – just that people know if they want to meet, this is the time and this is the place. We want to create some density for people — a few places where people know they can meet or bump into others.

Sounds good – I emailed Saul, in response to his blog entry, to say that I feel there’s a need in the Y Europe approach for academic R&D labs and their host institutions to be fully on board with this kind of thinking. Some already are, but there’s still a mindset shift necessary in many places. Hmmm… looks like I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is too, so I’ve just signed up, and will be heading down there to check it out!

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Havana 2007 (5): Hasta la proxima – until next time

February 18, 2007

Sadly, it’s time to go. I’ll try to write some more detailed followup notes on the plane home, but for now I’ll just upload a few photos (click on the thumbnail images to enlarge) showing

a) The final-night party – boy, it’s some experience to get out there on a Cuban dance floor with some great live music that has the crowd on its feet! I think us Gringos must simply be born with ‘frozen hips’; luckily they can be loosened up a bit with some Cuba Libré and a few cervezas (or was it a cerveza and a few Cuba Librés — who’s counting?)!
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We had some great laughs at our little table of ‘pranksters’ – you know who you are! I was pretty exhausted by midnight as the party was winding up, and still a bit jet-lagged, but an enthusiastic tap on the shoulder informed me that “in Cuba the party doesn’t stop”, so it was off to a rooftop private continuation with a small group of about 8 of us until around 2:30 in the morning — plenty more music for the whole neighbourhood, dancing, rum, and hot debate about Software Libre. Then I had to get up at 7am the next morning for a great sightseeing visit to Viñales, but it was worth it… I can always sleep on the plane!

b) The exhibition booth from Universidad de las Ciencias y Informaticas. The same UCI I wrote about in the past, and they have really come a long way with some great student presentations showing a profound understanding of the state of the art. And it is not just UCI – I met some great individuals from many other institutions across Cuba and all of Latin America, and there is lots happening.
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c) A group visit to the Cuban National Ballet for a performance of Coppélia, put on specially for us, and a rare sighting of Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso, who first performed this ballet in 1948, in the balcony just above us, to the rapturous applause of the crowd.
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OK, time to pack my bags… thanks again everyone, especially Tomás, Pedro, Maité, Gretchen, Olga Lydia, Liliana and Idelfonso, Ana Gloria, Lourdes, Celia, plus Sigrid Wilson and the helpful people at Logistour, and all the numerous others who made this an unforgettable experience!

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Havana 2007 (4): RMS Rocks Havana, 2.5hr Gig

February 15, 2007

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Conference Day 3 (Wednesday). Wow… the joint is jumping (again). Another tough call between “Web2.0 in Health Informatics” that I really wanted to see and GNU-Meister Richard M Stallman keynoting in the big hall. But actually it was no contest. You’ve gotta go see RMS perform in the last bastion of communism, right? The hall is huge, and packed solid – standing room only. RMS strolls to the podium mic and, to my surprise and delight, starts speaking in pretty damn good Spanish!

This is great, not only for the obvious benefit to the home crowd, but also because he speaks with a nice clear Yanqui enunciation that, combined with the overall familiar context, makes it easy for me to follow 90% of his presentation even with my much poorer level of Spanish. And he keeps it up, with no notes, for a full 2 and 1/2 hours (including a lengthy Q&A session at the end).

Let’s face it, RMS is not someone you warm to at the best of times… or so I had thought! This gig changed my opinion…

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Havana 2007 (3): Bioinformatics vs ELearning

February 14, 2007

Tough call on Conference Day 2: many parallel sessions, including several on elearning and pedagogical models, and some on bioinformatics and informatics in health, in addition to all the other strands taking place at this massive event. Since I’m representing KMi and the OU on both the elearning and health informatics fronts, I have no problem flitting back and forth. Also, my first keynote address took place in the elearning strand at 10am, so I wanted to participate in the full session.

But in the afternoon, there was another twist.

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Havana 2007 (2): Venezuela 3 – 1 Eisenstadt

February 14, 2007

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Well, I wrote previously that Venezuela and China were here in Havana at Informatica 2007 in force. The highlight of the opening day was definitely the rousing inaugural keynote address by Señora Socorro Hernandez – “Directora Gerente de AIT (Asociación de Investigación Tecnológica) y Presidenta de PDV-IFT, Venezuela”. Let me just explain that PDV = Petroleos de Venezuela, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) the world’s 5th largest producer of oil, so in plain English that means: pay attention!

I wrote the rather cheeky 3-1 score in this post’s headline because I thought I made a rather modest but good point during question time. But this is not a quantitative issue, and there’s no question that her speech included lots of great points: but although I found the speech very moving (and said so during question time), I didn’t agree with all of her points (and said so during question time). Heck, I was the only lone voice against approximately 1000 down-with-Yanqui-Imperialism-highly-articulate-lifelong-schooled rhetoricians, but hey — I like this crowd, and didn’t feel threatened, so I spoke up (politely, as you’ll see).

Señora Socorro Hernandez was a great speaker. Not for her the formulaic lines of the opening ceremony speech by Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés Menéndez who spoke of the “still mysterious 9/11 attack” and resultant US policy “actions that would have shocked the strategists of the Third Reich” (both verbatim quotes from the simultaneous translation of his speech – as you can see already, Informatica 2007 is not your typical high tech conference). No, none of that stuff, thankfully. Her style was much more interesting.

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Havana 2007 (1): Stallman, Software Libre, Google.cu!

February 12, 2007

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[note: this is the first of several posts from Informatica 2007; this one duplicates a general posting I made on KMi Planet; later ones will be unique].

Hey, it’s not Comdex… but the joint is seriously jumpin’… I’m in Havana (again… see my Dec 2004 “Cuba’s Other Revolution” posting), this time at Informatica 2007, the biggest hi-tech gig to hit this town in, well, ever. It’s a meta-conference – 15 major conferences all taking place at once (list below), huge exhibitss, tons of delegates from around the world, and some interesting- looking gigs.

Besides, I’ve learned three things already:

1. I’ve got an internet connection in my hotel room (new this year), and visiting Google.com I get redirected to: Google Cuba!

2. Richard M Stallman is here, speaking at th 3rd International Workshop on Open Source Software

3. The Venezualans and Chinese are here in force: Venezuala has a super-cool booth announcing: “Software Libre, para una Nacion Libre”, with great images of the Linux Penguin and some not-so-subtle Venezualan oil tankers.

Registration was a tedious 3-queue affair (once to sign in, once to pay, once to collect bag, but I’m jazzed up for the main event(s).

I hope to post daily on this blog. I’m representing several OU ‘strands’ here: not only KMi in Health Informatics (we have nearly a dozen projects in that niche!), but also OpenLearn, LabSpace, and our EU-funded ELeGI project. So I’ll be speaking in more than one strand, and attending lots of others…

Here’s the conference list, and another link below to the main conference site.

VI International Congress on Health Informatics

12th Congress of Informatics in Education

4th International Symposium on Tele-Education and Lifelong Learning – TelEduc 2007

3rd International Workshop on Open Source Software

8th Iberoamerican Seminar on ICT Security

3rd International Seminar on Telecommunications

2nd International Congress of Bioinformatics and Neuroinformatics

3rd International Workshop on Quality of Information and Communication Technologies

2nd Business Meeting about Information Technologies and Communications

5th International Congress GEOMATICA 2007

3rd International Congress of Technologies, Multimedia Content and Virtual Reality

3rd International Workshop on E-Commerce

1st Symposium on Informatics and the Community

8th IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) Symposium on Cost Oriented Automation

Affordable Automation Systems

3rd International Symposium on E- government

Visit Informatica 2007

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