Social Devices Become Social Themselves

Adrian Avendano and Ellen Dudley are Irish entrepreneurs based out of Barna, Galway. Their current venture is Crowd Scanner. An application which not only allows you to share information using a mobile device but also to do so by physically sharing the device itself.

Just one example of its many useful applications would be in a meeting where consensus is being sought. A quick poll question can be set up in the software and then the device, (currently it is an iphone app but ipad and android apps are planned), can be passed around the participants who can enter their choice from a selection. The total of votes are then compiled when the device has finished circulating. Thus a quick, easy and unobtrusive sense of the prevailing sentiment in the room can be obtained in a shared, sociable manner.

Their work on Crowd Scanner is a direct evolution of their personal interests in bringing people together to create new conversations and generate new ideas. Ellen has a bio-medical background and Adrian comes from the world of computer science. As he says; “learning is our crack-cocaine. Everyone has something interesting to say regardless of who they are and meeting interesting people is a fundamental part of our life. That’s what keeps us alive.”

A prior venture to Crowd Scanner, meetforeal. was their attempt to bring people together to share ideas. A speaker was invited to give a talk which was then followed by timed discussions. Attendees were encouraged to switch groups at given intervals to continue the sharing of ideas with a constantly changing set of people.

The events themselves were very successful but required a great deal of organization and promotion and proved to be not very scalable. As Ellen puts it: “What we loved most about the events was the mingling afterwards but the amount of work you had to do was disproportionate to the value derived.”

So a new way had to be found to bring people together to create new conversations Being essentially creators and designers they turned their attention to how technology could encourage greater and more meaningful human interaction.

The idea of Crowd Scanner came when a client of theirs misunderstood an instruction in an application on his iphone. He handed his device to Adrian to complete the process and in that moment the idea of using a mobile phone to connect with someone else was born. Instead of looking and interacting with a screen of a phone the opportunity arose to make the device itself inherently social.

Mobile phones are highly personal instruments and many may feel reluctant to hand over such an important life tool to a complete stranger. But it is all about context and good sense. Ellen: “By giving someone your phone you are saying you trust them, you break through the ice completely. This person has trusted me with their phone and there’s an interesting question on the phone and I’m going to answer it.”

The action of handing over the phone creates the opportunity to bond with people who may otherwise have remained strangers and aids the construction of a more meaningful social experience.

Ellen goes on to say: “It fulfills the need we had with our previous meetforeal endeavour in that we can now meet people anywhere. We don’t have to do all this promotion and organisation. Finding a speaker, finding a location and finding the people to attend. We just have Crowd Scanner on our phone and that enables us to initiate meaningful human connections.”

Adrian and Ellen are now fully engaged in developing commercial applications for their technology. They have trialled the software on trains, on the street, with students and friends, at events they attended and in different cities such as Galway and San Francisco.

The pitch has been fully developed and well-practiced. They got to the final eight (out of forty-two) at the TechCrunch Summer Pitch Battle! in July 2010. They were also chosen for App Circus in San Francisco but were unable to attend because of #ashcloud, (the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volano in Iceland) which grounded flights all over Northern Europe. However, they were able to submit a video instead and as a result they now find themselves in negotiations with an angel investor.

Apart from the small size of the Irish market and lack of a large enough support structure they have found that being seen as entrepreneurs hailing from Ireland to be a distinct advantage. There is no doubt that the Irish are held in high regard overseas. Also, they find it beneficial to be away form the faddish, me-too culture so often pervades startup hotbeds in other locations.

With six hundred downloads a week and rising their focus is now on creating specific use applications in the conference and event sectors where there is the possibility to add a new level of connection for a lot of people who happen to be in the same room. Connections and conversations that could lead to all sorts of new and interesting possibilities.

BlogTalk 2009 (6th International Social Software Conference) – Call For Proposals – September 1st And 2nd – Jeju, Korea


BlogTalk 2009
The 6th Int’l Conf. on Social Software
September 1st and 2nd, 2009
Jeju Island, Korea


Following the international success of the last five BlogTalk events, the next BlogTalk – to be held in Jeju Island, Korea on September 1st and 2nd, 2009 – is continuing with its focus on social software, while remaining committed to the diverse cultures, practices and tools of our emerging networked society. The conference (which this year will be co-located with Lift Asia 09) is designed to maintain a sustainable dialog between developers, innovative academics and scholars who study social software and social media, practitioners and administrators in corporate and educational settings, and other general members of the social software and social media communities.

We invite you to submit a proposal for presentation at the BlogTalk 2009 conference. Possible areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Forms and consequences of emerging social software practices
  • Social software in enterprise and educational environments
  • The political impact of social software and social media
  • Applications, prototypes, concepts and standards

Participants and proposal categories

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the conference, audiences will come from different fields of practice and will have different professional backgrounds. We strongly encourage proposals to bridge these cultural differences and to be understandable for all groups alike. Along those lines, we will offer three different submission categories:

  • Academic
  • Developer
  • Practitioner

For academics, BlogTalk is an ideal conference for presenting and exchanging research work from current and future social software projects at an international level. For developers, the conference is a great opportunity to fly ideas, visions and prototypes in front of a distinguished audience of peers, to discuss, to link-up and to learn (developers may choose to give a practical demonstration rather than a formal presentation if they so wish). For practitioners, this is a venue to discuss use cases for social software and social media, and to report on any results you may have with like-minded individuals.

Submitting your proposals

You must submit a one-page abstract of the work you intend to present for review purposes (not to exceed 600 words). Please upload your submission along with some personal information using the EasyChair conference area for BlogTalk 2009. You will receive a confirmation of the arrival of your submission immediately. The submission deadline is June 27th, 2009.

Following notification of acceptance, you will be invited to submit a short or long paper (four or eight pages respectively) for the conference proceedings. BlogTalk is a peer-reviewed conference.

Timeline and important dates

  • One-page abstract submission deadline: June 27th, 2009
  • Notification of acceptance or rejection: July 13th, 2009
  • Full paper submission deadline: August 27th, 2009

(Due to the tight schedule we expect that there will be no deadline extension. As with previous BlogTalk conferences, we will work hard to endow a fund for supporting travel costs. As soon as we review all of the papers we will be able to announce more details.)


Application Portability
Content Sharing
Data Acquisition
Data Mining
Data Portability
Digital Rights
Folksonomies and Tagging
Human Computer Interaction
Recommender Systems
RSS and Syndication
Semantic Web
Social Media
Social Networks
Social Software
Transparency and Openness
Trend Analysis
Trust and Reputation
Virtual Worlds
Web 2.0