The coffee societies

July 10, 2006

I’ve been involved with brands and social software since I left University over a decade ago, but recently I’ve taken a huge interest in how the communication industries are working with social media, such as Authentic Media. Possibly because of the work I do for my current employer, but actually it’s more about the similarity in the themes of Nicolas Bourriaud’s notion of relational aesthetics [PDF link], that I was interested a decade ago, and the current web2.0 concepts that have caught my attention.

Recently, I stumbled across the brilliant Blog by Russell Davies, who was talking about the value of social media from an non-technology perspective, particularly it’s value to brands. When he posted a suggestion of having a coffee morning at the excellent Breakfast Club cafe, for anyone interested is anything, so that he could take his virtual conversations into the real world, I went along. And again the following week. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to stick around long enough to meet the other attendees due to the imminent launch of our new project.

Russell’s idea reminded me about how Lloyd’s of London originated from coffee shop chats, and the above image on the right is a screen grab from a project, produced by Okupi (who I used to work for back in the day ) – It’s a VRML application of Rogers’ Lloyds of London building where users could interact in 3D with avatar based cashiers and advisers. The project is no longer on line, to be fair VRML was never stable enough to be commercial offering, but it was born at a time when ‘Being Digital‘ was started to be explained. Negroponte‘s book is still relevant to this day – the development and management of a community seems key to the communication industry managing the relationship between brands and the consumers requirements.

Hopefully the coffee mornings continue, allowing for short stop conversations and connections to be made between interested parties. It beats reading Blogs and the hassle of a conference, and could well be the ‘insurance’ that online communities need to ensure that the thinking that supports them is done in a social community and not an office.

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