Online Politeness – A Glimmer of Hope

There are lots of horrendous stories in the media each week at the moment of people suffering awful abuse on Twitter at the hands of trolls.

I’m a middle aged, middle class, white, educated guy. So the worst offences I tend to experience on Twitter is their advertising algorithm occasionally getting things a little bit wrong and showing me something I’m not interested in a few too many times. Read More

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A Tale Of Two Coworking Spaces

Well, 5 spaces actually, but why ruin a good title.

So this week is global Coworking Week 2014 and I’m spending my day back at my coworking alma mater, Betacowork.

These days, I’m not to be found there so much as I spend most of my coworking time at The Mug, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at some of the coworking spaces I have experienced over the past 3 years. I’ve enjoyed them all, but usually in different ways as they offer something different for everyone.

I’m based in Brussels, but spend a fair bit of my time in New York and occasionally, London so I’ll cover those 3 cities.

Betacowork my Belle

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, my first coworking space was Betacowork. It was the first coworking space in Brussels to really get traction and this in large part was due to the personality and drive of the founder, Ramon Suarez and the connection with the BetaGroup community of tech entrepreneurs.

I spent nearly 2 years there, on and off, and really came to understand what coworking is. Prior to coworking, I would A) spend a lot of time working alone B) compensate for this by spend a lot of time at professional events. Once I was installed at Betacowork, I stopped spending/wasting so much time at events. There was no need. My peer group and potential customers were around me and then the events started coming to me! Betacowork and the ICAB building in which it is housed quickly became the hub for tech startup events. Read More

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Creating Value Is Not So Difficult

Tech startups have often been accused of creating products that nobody wants or needs. It’s a consequence of product focussed teams in love with their technology and product. But we see less and less of that nowadays. Hopefully we’re entering a post-lean era, where the principals of customer discovery, validation and lean development are engrained in the DNA of every founder. Read More

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Bury Your Business Model Artefacts

In coding we have code smells. Indicators of bad code that hint at underlying problems in software. In writing we have “darlings” that should be killed. You know the kind of thing, multiple ideas crammed into an article that don’t really belong there. They are usually indicative of an article that should be split into a series or edited heavily. In other words, an article that’s trying to cover too many things at once.

Trying to do too much at once is very common in business model design and as your model evolves, you have to wield your editor’s knife carefully and precisely, surgically removing all hints of confusion. Read More

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Social Media Is

When people ask me, “How did you meet so and so?”, increasingly the answer is now, “via Twitter”. I know a lot of the people that I follow and met many of them on Twitter first. I have a kind of a mental list of twitter folks with whom I’ve broken bread.

For me, social media has been social in the offline sense. Whether or not social media made us more or less social was big debate back in 2008 when Twitter was still in its infancy. Advocates defended it for its ability to be participative and accessible.

If you’re still cynical or just need an occasional reminder of its awesomeness just check out this amazing conversation that developed  around Hyperloop the other day between Elon Musk, John Gardi (?) and numerous others who felt able to chip in. Needless to say, there’s no TL;DR here. Take some time and enjoy.

Read More

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Looking for Problems

As startup founders you’re always reminded that the road to success is to solve a real problem.

If a never ending stream of ideas aren’t the thing that keeps you awake at night, but you’d still like to have a crack at creating your own business then how do you go about finding a problem to solve? Read More

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Dark Patterns on the Rise

I don’t know if it’s because the economic pressure that companies are under, if it’s because companies don’t get it that better user experience leads to customer loyalty or if it’s because users expect so little from the web that they tolerate so much. Whatever the reason, Dark Patterns still dominate most newspaper and a magazine websites.

This is a old ( 2010, ha! ) presentation by, Harry Brignull, but still incredibly relevant today.

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Programming Fads

I was recently researching some arcane programming techniques to do with language analysis for Search Cog ( I won’t bore you with the details ) when I came across this little gem in Wikipedia.

Regarding SNOBOL: In recent years its use has faded as newer languages such as AWK and Perl have made string manipulation by means of regular expressions fashionable.

Yeah, you really have to watch out for those PERL hipsters and their shiny new regex don’t ya.

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