Category: tech & telecoms

Starting to recognise we’re here

"Start Up Britain"

The Start Up Bus

StartUp Britain has relaunched its 2015 nationwide bus tour aiming to celebrate, inspire and accelerate entrepreneurship in the UK, funded by sponsors Upwork, NatWest, Sage and the Start Up Loans Company.

It started in Canary Wharf on June 22, and finishes in Inverness on August 7, and for once Reading was on the map thanks to the folk at Connect TVT, which is making a steady impact putting start ups in The Thames Valley back onto the map. Because it’s so close to London, people forget we’re here or lump us in, yet the community is a very different one to the Silicon Roundabout.

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How old is a tech entrepreneur?

Adam Clark

Connect TVT’s Adam Clark making a case for the Thames Valley

As most of the clients I work with are either small businesses, owner managed businesses or start ups – and my own PR business is a small business – entrepreneurship is close to my heart. I’ve been working in this field for longer than I care to remember, and freelancing for 15 years now. It suits me and the buzz doesn’t go away.  Recently I’ve had cause to think a lot more about entrepreneurship.

“Around one in five people aged over 50 is self-employed, a higher proportion than for any other age group. Indeed, most entrepreneurs are in their 50s, not their 20s. They are more successful, too: more than 70% of businesses started by people in their 50s survive for at least five years, whereas only 28% of those started by younger people last that long.”

Thus noted the Guardian on Jan 1, 2014.

I have long been ‘banging on’ about old fashioned marketing targeting age groups rather than interest groups. (How long since we were all talking ‘Tribes’ in  digital circles, but it’s made little difference!) Beyond products such as nappies or age defying skin creams, there’s no real need to talk old fashioned demographics any more.

The digital field should, by rights, as a newer industry, be more liberal, more egalitarian. We are, after all in the 21st Century. But we’re hardly ringing the changes.

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Ada Lovelace Day: Wendy Hall

It’s Ada Lovelace Day – the day to bring to the fore the successful female role models in the traditionally male dominated fields of technology and science.

I’ve chosen to blog about Wendy Hall – now Dame Wendy Hall DBE, FREng, FBCS, FIET, FCGI, FRS.  Today she’s  Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and Dean of the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences.

She probably wouldn’t know me from Adam, but my first job after graduating was working for the language lab at the University whilst I started my (as yet unfinished) PhD, scanning language texts and linking them using this new ‘thing’ – hypertext – on a project called Microcosm, which was absolutely her baby. She was one of the first people to seriously research the possibilities of multimedia and hypermedia.

For the first time, it was easy to make associations between subjects in unrelated documents. It seems almost impossible now, but we were at the bleeding edge at the University, with students using word processors!

I’ve rarely seen Wendy’s name on the conference circuit. and she’s not prolific on Twitter (@DameWendyOBE). But she became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2009 UK New Year’s Honours list, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 2009.

Why? Her work has has had huge significance for digital libraries, the semantic web, and more.

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Ada Lovelace Day 2012

A quick flick flick through the programmes of most tech conferences will tell you what you already knew: there aren’t many women speaking on the tech circuit. If you can call social technologies ‘tech’, we do slightly better in that field, with advice on use coming from a few attractive, articulate women.

But when putting their programmes together, the organisers look around the circuit for people who’ve been on stage before with a degree of success, so the cycle’s been a hard one to break. Organisations such as Girl Geek Dinners  do well to address the balance, but why should the women in tech, who have to be pretty determined to break through stereotypes – only a quarter of university places on technology courses are apparently going to women, and this stat was one given out by Facebook this week, so I suspect it’s based on US figures – be confined to the niches of women’s networking and support groups.

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social technologist and writer.  Fed up with “the tech industry’s continual excuses regarding the lack of women speakers at conferences”, she founded Ada Lovelace Day – a day in which a mass of women technologists are written about, just to prove a point: women have always had place right at the forefront of technology.

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