NUI Galway Campus Company And Technology Publisher To Set Up Second Office In Silicon Valley

After less than a year in operation on the NUI Galway campus, the Technology Voice – a daily publisher of articles on innovative and emerging technologies – has announced that it will open a second office in Silicon Valley in partnership with the Irish Innovation Center (IIC) in San Jose. Technology Voice aims to create a ‘news bridge’ between its headquarters in Galway and its new office in the US.

Technology Voice’s coverage of innovative and emerging technologies is reflected in its five main newsfeeds: Video; Mobile; Business; Technology; and Social Media.

According to founder John Breslin, who is a lecturer in electronic engineering at NUI Galway: “The main aim of the Technology Voice is to cover emergent technologies and share new, innovative ideas with an audience interested in learning what future trends to think about and how they might be affected by them. We’re very excited to work with the Irish Innovation Center in San Jose since they are ideally placed in Silicon Valley and are extremely well connected to the heart of the tech universe.”

Technology Voice writer Tom Murphy says: “Technologies that are sometimes obscure and difficult to decipher are explained in such a manner that an average reader can explain the essential ideas with ease to a third party not familiar with the area: to their boss, co-worker, friend, and so on. Natural areas of activity are innovations and ideas emerging from large companies such as Cisco and HP, as well as the bubbling undercurrents of start-ups and early-stage ventures.”

John Hartnett, the founder of the Irish Innovation Center and also of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), says: “We are delighted that the Technology Voice will launch its US base in the IIC on April 5th at our yearly ITLG/Irish Times Silicon Valley Awards. We have been working with the Technology Voice in the run up to the awards on the Irish America ‘Silicon Valley 50’ magazine, recognising the top Irish American tech executives in the Valley and also profiling various Irish technology companies of note.”

With its origins in Ireland, one goal of Technology Voice is to promote Irish technology wherever possible, in the belief that Irish companies and entrepreneurs are on the same footing as other international contributors when it comes to technology, business and innovation.

Some of the tech leaders interviewed on Technology Voice during its first six months include: Carlos Dominguez (Cisco); Dylan Collins (Jolt Online); Andrew Parish (Wavebob); Nova Spivack (Live Matrix); Bernardo Huberman (HP Labs); and Iain MacDonald (SkillPages).

A varied set of topics are covered on Technology Voice, including: pervasive computing and mobile networking; how to measure influence on Twitter; similarities between neurons and social networks; robots learning from their environments; and solar technologies for harvesting light.

About the Technology Voice

Technology Voice started producing daily articles in July 2010. The team behind the Technology Voice is John Breslin and Tom Murphy.

John Breslin: A lecturer and researcher at NUI Galway, John is also co-founder of Boards.ie Ltd. – Ireland’s largest community website with over two million visitors per month. John started Boards.ie as a computer games forum in 1998. John is also co-founder of StreamGlider, Inc. StreamGlider is a breakthrough iPad app for tracking personal interests.

Tom Murphy: Tom is a producer and cameraperson with over 20 years experience filming in many different environments throughout the world, specializing in current affairs and documentaries with ABC Nightline, CBS, and many more. He is an award-winning journalist, and has received the George Polk Award for his secret filming in Burma during the Saffron Revolution.

About the Irish Innovation Center

The Irish Innovation Center is the Silicon Valley launch pad for Irish technology companies. From San Jose, California – the capital of Silicon Valley – companies can rapidly accelerate their growth by taking advantage of the extensive services available from the IIC. The IIC provides an environment for like-minded entrepreneurs to gain access to venture firms, bankers, customers, suppliers and employees that will enable their companies to grow and flourish. Within the IIC flexible office space, reception, administrative, legal, financial, human resource, and IT support services are all available to resident companies.

Loc8 Code: Navigating Ireland with Greater Accuracy

After four years of development Loc8 Code was launched in Ireland in July, 2010. The product was developed as PON Code (position orientated navigation code) by Gary Delaney of GPS Ireland. For two of those four years Garmin provided devices for field testing the technology and later they went on to licence the product from Loc8 Code.

In 2006 Garmin released their first SatNavs in this country with detailed mapping. Up until 2006 there were satnavs for Ireland but they only had main roads on them. Navtech, which is owned by Nokia, had spent five years driving around Ireland making the sort of detailed maps that take advantage of satellite navigation (satnav) capabilities.

At that point in time Ordinance Survey maps didn’t capture road attribute data such as; how many lanes the road has, what surface the road has, what speed limit the road has, whether two roads that cross on a map are actually intersecting, i.e., you can get from one to the other and so on.

A satnav not only looks at a road but all the information associated with a road to make a decision about routing

GPS Ireland specializes in the professional use of GPS products for surveyors and other people in need of accurate mapping tools. Utility companies which made up some of its customer base appreciated the advantages of the satnav systems but were confounded by the addressing system used in Ireland. 40% of the addresses in Ireland are non-unique. None of these addresses can be regarded as a precise location.

Gary explains further, “That prompted us to start investigating how to come up with a solution that was usable. When we started off with this we had no intention of replacing a post code because as a piece of modern technology a post code is a bit of a dead duck.

“A post code identifies a cluster of houses so you can group bits of mail in a bundle with an elastic band, give it to a postman and let the postman find the actual door itself. That was a technology that was invented in the sixties.

“Mail as a business is a diminishing industry. If you are going to invent something you don’t want to do it for diminishing industry. Our aim was to develop technology for couriers, which is the logistics industry, emergency services and utility companies.”

At the outset of the development of the digital address code Gary had to establish clear criteria to ensure the effectiveness of the system.

“It was very important for us that if a scanner was passed across a parcel Loc8code would be picked out from all the other noise that is on there.”

  • Self-checking: The code is self-checking. It started off with seven characters but then an eighth character was added that acts as a check for the other seven.
  • Adjacency: It was decided that it was very important that, for example, W8L is next to W9L. This allows for human interpretation of the code instead of the code being only related to a database. To that end the code starts at the top left of the country with the letter A. The first character is for broad areas. N is for Dublin and W is for Crosshaven and so on.
  • Concatenated Code: This allows for secure social networking. If someone didn’t want to give away their exact location the could by truncating the code reveal only their general area. The first three characters cover a zone of 3.5km. The use of six characters reduces that to around 120m and of course the whole code is pin point accurate.

The code is language and place name independent and does not matter if the community would prefer Irish or English.

An additional advantage for commercial operators is that considerable savings can be had in fuel costs from not having to drive around hunting down unfamiliar addresses. Gary estimates that the savings could be as great as 20% for operators serving rural communities.

The idea of Loc8 Code is that it should be an addition to the present addressing system instead of being a replacement. Gary explains, “ At this moment in time it is elective. People use it because they find it valuable. If it were to become a national system we wouldn’t require people to come to the site and create a code for themselves. We would actually deliver it to them. But that would be a huge cost to us so we are going to hold off on that.”

Loc8 Code can also be used as an app on an iPhone. Point 8 developed under licence by One Touch Solutions can be downloaded from itunes. It can create dynamic codes that you can send to others to enable them to navigate to you which once used can then be disposed of.

Should you ever wish to stop by for a chat or a coffee or send us something nice in the post then the Loc8 Code for Technology Voice is LTD-99-BZ9

Jim Long on SXSW ’11: No Breakout Platforms but Still Worth the Trip

This was my second tour of South by Southwest Interactive and what I have come to see is a conference whose popularity – the official tally from conference organizers puts event attendance at nearly 20,000 – has engulfed some of its usefulness and value.  If you go as an individual, you really have to be strategic with your time there to make it worthwhile, by my estimation.

It’s important here to note here this is “by my estimation”.  Your results may have been vastly different than mine.  Perhaps if I hadn’t parachuted in mid-conference coming off a grueling overseas work trip, or if I had avoided the lure of the social gatherings and gone head down into some serious panel attendance, my takeaways would’ve been different. 

Still, I think to derive value from panels and keynotes you really should fan out in teams and arrive very early.  Much of the panel content is duplicative and some panels simply aren’t that good.  But there were some quality panels and keynotes, and Patrick Ruffini of Engage communications has outlined four of his favorites.

Face to Face – It’s the People That Make the Conference

The real, measurable value of these conferences is spending time meeting people face to face.  Frankly, you could do that without buying a pass to the conference.

While some of the parties and lounges require a badge, you can meet people and do business simply by roaming the lobby of the Hilton or Driskill, or on the main floor of the convention hall.  You can always catch the keynotes at SXSW Interactive.

Even with all of this ambient intimacy allowing us to keep tabs one one another – defying time and space – it’s still no substitute for a handshake or a hug.  I had the opportunity to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in years.  These meetings produced measurable value professionally, in terms of projects/plans I have in the pipeline, and at a personal level it was lovely to spend time with the folks who mean a lot to me. This is what made the trip worth it for me.

No Breakout Platforms This Year

This was no coming out party for any shiny new technology like there has been for services like Twitter and Foursquare in years past.  Venerable Silicon Valley blogger Louis Gray proclaimed Hashable and Foursquare ”winners” of this year’s confab, but other than that, there weren’t any real standouts.

Like the title of this post implies, all of these platforms are evolving, and more emphasis is being placed on how people are using these tools – sometimes with wrenching geopolitical implications.  If nothing else, this demonstrates the maturity of mobile, social and location based technologies. 

Todd Watson from IBM said in a recent <a href="post, “For so much of the past 10-15 years, we’ve been so enamored with the technology itself. But more recently, we’ve begun to take much more notice of what the technology can do to empower humanity and human relationships, in often profound and game-changing ways: the Green revolution in Iran, the Haiti earthquake, the Chilean mine, the recent quake/tsunami in Japan…”

Watson adds that all of this technology is forcing organizational change upon institutions. Unable to keep up with the ”speed of the network” governments, businesses and other command and control institutions are increasingly being outpaced by networked individuals.  This is an compelling trend that bears watching. 

I’m interested in reading ”As One” by Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley.  In it, the authors outline many different types of organizational structures that work toward successful, unified goals.  Not the stuff of SXSW party buses, but it looks like a worthwhile read.

The Promise of Web Video at SXSW

I live, eat and breathe video.  I’m invigorated by the fact that production, distribution and monetization of video is now within the reach of anyone.  A scant few years ago this was the sole realm of broadcast and cable giants. But as with many institutions, the internet has leveled the playing field. 

I see great opportunity here and am fascinated by the idea of launching a internet TV network.  In one of the more energizing conversations I attended at SXSW, IAC chairman Barry Diller described how this internet “miracle” is disrupting broadcast and cable TV dominance, “Here you have this classic thing… You have a group of people, they’re on the train tracks. The train is five miles away. It used to be 10 miles away. In a year or two it’s going to be a mile away, and they’ll still have their hands out.”

He appeared to be quite bullish on the future of internet television and believes it will be ubiquitous within three years. 

Quietly, web video companies are doing something very de classe in the tech world.  Many of them are making money instead of just taking money.  Call me old fashioned, but I like that. In back-to-back “lightning round” sessions, companies like Howcast and Revision3 touted video ad CPM’s of $9, $15 and even $35.  More impressive is the potential for growth in online video.  Revision3 Chief Revenue Officer Brad Murphy shared these encouraging projections: (source: eMarketer)

  • 2011 – 68% of US internet users will be watching online video at least once a month
  • 2015 – 76% will be watching online video regularly
  • 2010 – Marketers spent $1.5 billion in online video (up 48% from 2009)
  • 2014 – Expected to grow to $5.7 billion

I sense great opportunity here and was inspired by these sessions.  One big disappointment for me this year was that I didn’t get a chance to meet Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback.  It’s impossible at something this big to see everyone you would like to, so hopefully our paths will cross soon.

Will You Go Next Year?

I think I’ll go back next year.  I’ve got a line on a condo just two blocks away, so at least that part is taken care of.  I’d say this SXSW was worth the trip, but as I noted to someone, I didn’t “love” it, I “liked it a lot.”

Special thanks to Jim Long for allowing us to repost this truncated version of his original article which is entitled “Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary – No Breakout Platforms But SXSW ’11 Still Worth the Trip.” You can also view some more of his SXSW pictures at flickr.

Miravex: 3D Imaging Technology

Miravex started as a company in September 2009 but the project itself started some four years previously. Guido Mariotto and some colleagues, research fellow Dr. Roman Kantor and Professor Igor Shvets, both of whom went on to become co-founders with Guido, were toying with some ideas in the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin.

In the course of their experimentation they developed a technology where basically by illuminating any surface with a light in a particular fashion it becomes possible to reconstruct the shape of the surface.

They realized that this platform technology, which can be applied to a range of surfaces such as paper, fabrics, skin and leather, had the potential for commercialization. The filed filed a patent application to protect their intellectual property and in parallel to the product development they also started to analyze the market opportunity.

Guido explains further, “We looked at the paper industry and the quality control of paper. We also looked at the area of biometrics, fingerprint recognition and scanning facial features for security screening at airports.

“In the end we concluded that the best opportunity lay in the field of dermatology and cosmetic medicine. For two reasons. One is that the technology works particularly well on skin. The other reason is that the cosmetic medicine market is very large and is constantly growing.”

There seemed to be a requirement for a device that could quantify the results of these treatments.

“Our market research showed that there was no imaging device available that could quantify and measure a number of parameters.

“If you undergo a laser treatment for the resurfacing of the skin, a very common treatment, where clinicians us a laser to burn off the outer layer of the skin and the result should be a smoother skin, there was no way of measuring how much of an improvement there was.

“This was something that clients of cosmetic clinics were starting to require because not all treatments show an immediate result. There is a need for a device that can show the trend for treatment outcomes over a period of time and over a number of sessions to prove that these treatments have an efficacy.”

They have three beta machines in Ireland and one in Italy and have been busy gathering data from the first users. They acquired their first distributor in May, 2010 and have been generating sales since following July.

Miravex is one the companies that will be showcasing their technology at the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Technology Leaders Awards on April the 5th.

“Our strategy was to establish our product in Europe for geographic, regulatory and resource reasons. But the main market is the United States and this is where we want to get.

“The ITLG event will provide us with an opportunity preliminary contacts with potential distributors or beta-testers in the United States. So, it is very important for us to be able to showcase our product at Stanford.”

Learning From Yapta

It has often been said that “the market defines you”. That is, you can do all the PR and advertising you want to become something else, but the market will define you in ways that are embedded in perceptions and, believe it or not, the truth.

For Ireland, the market has defined it for hundreds of years, and it is a good position. I just received this note from travel site Yapta. I like Yapta and I use it all the time. Take a look at how they define Ireland through words like: beauty, culture, history and finally, inspiration. Yapta knows what will sell Ireland.

For those of us who are trying to work in and assist the Irish economy we need to find a new set of words. The words I hear all the time are flat, negative, emigration and “someone opened an office” somewhere in the country. We need to continue to work on perceptions of how the market has defined our economy so that to hear are words like innovation, entrepreneurship, company building and talent; and not from those who are preaching to the choir.

Maybe we can learn from Yapta.

New Cookie Law: Greater Protection for Internet Users

I donned my lawyer’s hat to take a look at the major change to the EU e-Privacy Directive due to come into force by May.

A new Article in the Directive referring to cookies has sparked media controversy about the negative impact it may have on online organisations. This controversy may be unjustified as the law seems more focused on the protection of personal privacy than the banning of cookies.

Under existing EU law, clear information must be provided to a website user to explain the purpose of a cookie and offer that user the right to block it. This has been adopted liberally in practice and information on cookies is generally inserted into the website’s privacy policy.

The new Article 5(3) provided by Directive 2009/136/EC now requires consent to store a cookie to be sought by an online organisation. This new rule aims to protect the website user by adopting an opt-in mechanism to indicate the willingness of a user to receive a cookie rather than just block it.

There has been criticism by online organisations that this enhanced requirement will disrupt business. If the new provision is adopted literally, there may be a significant cost involved with figuring out a suitable model for obtaining this user consent.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills in the UK carried out a fantastic study into the potential costs. Annex 3 should be of interest to anyone affected by the new rules.

If the adoption of the provision is not so literal and the included exception to the rule is interpreted widely then, the new rules may not be so harsh. The exception provides that where a cookie is “strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose” of allowing the user to access a service he or she has specifically requested then no consent is necessary.

It appears from this that the new rules may target third party cookies primarily and first party may generally fall within the exception. So, for example, cookies used to remember passwords may fall within the exception whereby a user is accessing a service he or she expressly requested.

Under EU law, each EU Member State has a certain amount of latitude in how it implements certain legal measures. As a result, and due to the rather ambiguous wording of the Directive itself, the cookie provision and its exception may be adopted slightly differently by each country.

Ultimately, the new cookie rules aim to protect an internet user. Directive 2009/136/EC is called the “Citizens’ Rights Directive” and that is exactly what it deems to uphold in relation to cookie storage.

There is a lack of basic information out there about cookies. This fosters suspicion among many average internet users. If more information on cookies is made available through the consent process, this may actually encourage a more accepting attitude to them. That would be a welcome outcome.

[Note: Information provided by this post represents the personal opinion of the author and should not be deemed as legal advice]

Mcor Technologies: 3D Printing with Paper

Conor MacCormack was born, bred, and still lives in Ardee in County Louth, Ireland. He has a primary degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in finite element analysis, which involved using computer models to simulate the stress within metal structures.

It was while studying for his doctorate that he gained a lot of exposure to the whole area of 3D printing and computer aided design.

As Conor says, “I had spent time when doing my PhD drawing things on a computer and getting them printed out in 3D, and realized it was a fantastic technology, but it was really niche and only the top universities and the top companies would have them.”

So, in very early 2003, Conor and his brother Fintan, who is a co-founder of Mcor Technologies, came up with the idea of building their own 3D printer.

They realized that apart from the capital cost of the machine, the running costs were the real barrier to entry, “The consumables that go into these machines would cost thousands and thousands every year.

“So we said if we could make an entry-level machine that was low cost to run, it would have a real future. It would accelerate the adoption of this technology.”

They asked themselves what would be the lowest cost material that could be used for 3D printing that could be bought off the shelf? They realized that paper was a perfect material. It’s very accurately made. It’s very precise in its thickness and the quality doesn’t vary much across the reams that can be bought.

As Conor says, “We thought that getting a 3D printer to work with A4 sheets of paper would be a brilliant idea.”

Conor and Fintan assumed that getting the machine to work and getting the software to enabling the slicing of the parts would be the most challenging aspect But the biggest challenge they had to overcome was trying to deposit an adhesive on to paper without the paper blistering.

It is not possible to make a 3D product with blistered paper so they had to develop their own adhesive dispenser, and the Mcor Technologies intellectual property is based around this device.

In October 2008, the team released some information on their product to some blogs that were discussing 3D printing and the issues that were surrounding it and there was an instant global response.

They received over 2 million hits in 10 days, and had to switch to a more capable web hosting service.

“From that point, we knew that we were onto something that people really wanted.”

Conor and Fintan have decided that Mcor Technologies need to have a foothold in the American market.

“What the ITLG Awards Ceremony means to us is that it gives us a chance to not only to meet some of the VCs in Silicon Valley and develop some potential leads for business. It also gives us the chance to tap into the expertise of the people at the Irish Innovation Center.”

A video of the printer in operation can be viewed at golem.de

Intelesens: Wireless Health Monitoring

After working at a senior level at various multinational companies, including Seagate and Marconi, Michael Caulfield chose to settle back where his family is based in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, and joined a very small startup technology company that eventually morphed into Intelesens.

Intelesens in its original form had been started as a spin-out company by three professors from the University of Ulster (the University is a shareholder.) One of these professors, John Anderson, is credited with developing the world’s first portable defibrillator.

Michael explains, “I joined them to add my commercial experience to, what to me, looks like a very exciting opportunity.

“Back in 2005, we really focused our minds and we developed a consensus to focus on wearable wireless health monitors.

“With a degree of foresight and a willingness to take a little bit more time to develop the product, we thought we would be able to enter the market at exactly the right time. That is exactly what has occurred. There is now major interest in trying to understand this technology and how to deploy it.“

As well as having uses inside hospitals it can be, just as importantly, used remotely in the homes of patients. In addition, there are a greater number of people who are living alone but otherwise fine but who would nevertheless like to be able to notify someone should they have a mishap.

“We are now at the exciting stage with the technology that we have developed of turning it into a product for the market. We have taken them through the European regulatory approval process so they are all CE approved. We have taken them through a couple of very important clinical trials at major hospitals both in Belfast and Dublin.

“We have taken huge strides and ticked an enormous number of boxes to bring these family of products to the market in Europe.”

Now Michael and his team have their eyes set on the North American market, “We have just completed a trial at the Mass General Hospital in Boston and have filed for FDA approval.

“Although we started in Europe, it is the US market that will take up our technology that much more quickly. The US is a faster moving market we have competitors in which we don’t have in Europe.”

In one sense, having competitors is an advantage as they help to familiarize customers with new technology. In another sense, competitors could sometimes become partners.

“There are two things that Intelesens needs to allow us to realize that dream of getting Intelesens technology into hospitals in the US and chronically-ill patients at home in the US.

“We need investment and therefore I am keen to get my proposition in front of potential US investors.

“We also need partners to help us with routes to market.

“We could do this ourselves and our business plan shows us being a $100m business in five years. However, our considered preference to find partners who are already in that market place.”

Intelesens are one of seven nominees being profiled in Technology Voice that will be participating at the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Technology Leaders Awards Ceremony on April 5th, 2011

The Silicon Valley 50

The 4th Annual ITLG Technology Awards will take place at Stanford University on April 5th and is being sponsored by the Irish Times and the Silicon Valley Bank.

The event will be hosted by Emily Chang, Bloomberg West Anchor and the keynote speaker will be Craig Barrett, ITLG Chairman and Retired CEO/Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation.

Of especial interest this year will be the compilation of the Silicon Valley 50 – a list that gives recognition to the top 50 Irish American technology executives doing business in Silicon Valley.

A random sample of names from this list gives an idea of the extent of influence and depth of involvement that Irish Americans have had in shaping Silicon Valley into what it is to today – the gathering of the most creative minds in technology, marketing and management.

Many will have been aware of the massive changes that the economy of Ireland has undergone in recent years, from the heights of the Celtic Tiger to the depths of recession. These have been serious changes that have had and will continue to have an effect on economic growth for a little while more.

But all the gloomy news has hidden from sight one of the great success stories of the modern era – the incredible and remarkable story of the Irish tech sector.

According to ICT Ireland, (the voice of the Information and Communications Technology sector in Ireland), over 75,000 people are employed in the ICT area which is responsible for approximately 25% of Ireland’s total turnover and represents one third of Ireland’s exports by value.

Employment alone has grown by 6% in this area in 2010 and there is still the promise of more to come.

Any economy, anywhere in the world would crave for these sort of figures.

And the future looks better.

Three of the world’s leading research institutes are based in Ireland:

In a recent interview Barry O’Sullivan, Vice-President of Cisco’s global voice technology group, stated,

“Technology, by definition, is about the future – to the extent that you are in high tech then you are always in the next big thing.”

If one looks at what Ireland has been able to achieve in the harshest of economic climates then one can only begin to wonder at what can be achieved when the wind is set fair in the sails.

A major next step for many Irish companies is to take advantage of the world-renowned technological, marketing and management experience that resides in Silicon Valley.

The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) was founded in 2007 by John Hartnett. He is a recent recipient of the prestigious Spirit of Ireland Award from the San Jose-Dublin Sister City program.

He says there are three overwhelming reasons why Irish companies should establish a presence in Silicon Valley:

“One, you have access to the greatest collection of technology companies in the world. These companies are all over the world doing things with sales and operations. But you want to come to the heart of where they’re at, and that’s their headquarters.

“Number two, if you’re going to get investment, a smart investment from someone who is going to change your organization and make you a true winner, these VCs, these angel groups are sitting here, not in Ireland.

“The third piece is access to talent. You have the world’s talent sitting here – guys that invented Google, guys that are running companies like Facebook or Twitter – if you want to build your organization and build some key leadership where you might be weak.”

The ITLG have set up an innovation center right in the heart of Silicon Valley as a launch pad for Irish companies to set themselves up, and to make it easy for them to do the necessary networking and have the essential face-to-face meetings.

The ITLG is determined to create the most powerful Irish network in the world. The Irish Diaspora is estimated to consist of over 40 million people. If this huge and powerful potential resource could be harnessed, organized and focused, then the door opens for all sorts of great and marvelous possibilities to occur.

To help facilitate this the ITLG can draw upon its network of 1,500 Silicon Valley executives and industry leaders who are either Irish or of Irish descent. Many of these people have had great success in their professional lives and view their contributions to the ITLG as a means of payback for their own good fortune.

These contributions vary in nature but can consist of:

  • Mentoring new Irish businesses coming to Silicon Valley.
  • Providing vital contacts for business development through their personal networks that would be very difficult to obtain by any other means.
  • Providing facilities such as the Irish Innovation Center to provide Irish businesses with a solid base from which to work from.

The rapidly growing Irish tech sector can only continue to succeed if it can take its place in the global marketplace as quickly as possible. The center of the global market place for high tech is Silicon Valley and the ITLG is ideally placed to facilitate and further the growth of Irish technology businesses.

The Silicon Valley 50 will be recognized at the 4th Annual ITLG Technology Leaders Awards at Stanford University on April 5th. You can register here for tickets.

Storyful: Curating News For A New Generation

The idea of curation has long been associated with cataloguing collections in libraries and museums. More recently, it also refers to the person who is responsible for picking the artists to perform at a music festival.

In the context of social media, a new concept of the role of the curator is developing. This curator aims to filter the deluge of social media content washing over us every day to edit this and provide context for the interested public.

On average there are 140 million tweets a day and 35 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. With this swell of information, how does a curator sift through it and catalogue what is valuable, accurate and newsworthy? How is this then built into a digestible story?

These questions led to the creation of Storyful, a website founded by journalists that is dedicated to the curation of the real-time web.

Storyful founder, Mark Little, a journalist with 20 years experience, explains where the idea came from, “My passion has always been foreign reporting and I did a huge amount of it in the nineties. News organisations were spending less money on this and it was becoming far more difficult to get to go to places where there was interesting stories.

“I saw the rise in social media as an opportunity. My role was not necessarily always to travel but was also to find out if we could find the sources that were reputable within this mass, big conversation. It just became so much more important after the Iranian protests in 2009. The big problem was there was no filter.

“The beginning of last year when I set Storyful up, I really had no idea except a hunch how we might do it. Gradually I just met people who shared the same vision.”

In order to create a news story, Storyful finds reputable sources from around the world on YouTube and Twitter. It selects people who are talking about unfolding issues. Many of them are journalists.

“What we do is we work very much to begin with around lists. We believe that every news event creates a community.” Storyful then watches this news community and it effectively becomes a newswire for a particular story.

This creates the content for a story which is then translated into news with added context, insight and information from the Storyful curators who are located in countries including Ireland, China and America. The stories feature a mixture of tweets, maps, video and context drawn together by the curators to promote the depth of understanding around an unfolding news story.

As well as the public element, Storyful also operates a subscription element which has clients including ABC News and YouTube.

“The business is orientated around a private Twitter account called Storyful Pro. Storyful Pro is effectively a newswire.

“What we are is the first news agency designed for the social media age. We built a set of tools and workflows and our clients pay a subscription to get all the material that we find.”

Relying on sources from social media for both the public and private element of Storyful raises questions of reliability. A recent story published on Storyful profiled a man claiming to be dying of cancer who used Reddit to speak of his last hours and answer questions on his illness. Later it emerged that the entire story may have been a hoax.

Does this worry Mark? “Yes, absolutely, but the great thing about it [the Reddit story] was it was Twitter that exposed it. So, from our point of view, in that kind of story what we’re interested in is the way the community itself does the verification. And that’s the next step for us. We can’t just be eight people or twelve people, or whatever we end up being, doing this ourselves. We have to get the community.”

To encourage the wider community to engage with the curation of news, Storyful has just launched a public curation tool.

This curation tool is a customised app that allows the public to curate the news and insert tweets, video and other content. A story can also include paragraphs of text of up to 500 characters. The subject matter can be as diverse as the conflict in Bahrain to star trails.

Mark hopes that this will encourage thousands of people to become involved with the curation of the news.

“Something like this becomes very much more interactive and social. We’d love people to join with us. If they’ve got problems with the way we do things come and join us. Tell us. We’re wide open to people coming in to help. If they’ve got a specialist interest or they have a particular way they want to do it then they can do it themselves, we’ll give them that capacity. That’s the whole point.

“What we eventually hope to be is effectively like the public utility within social media that anybody who is of that 1% who does the important things – tells stories of universal value – they can congregate around our site and around our services.”

The gauntlet has been thrown down to social media users everywhere with an interest in curating stories to engage with news and a news community through Storyful.