I was at the Carson Summit recently, which was full of European developers interested in the future of web apps.
Two stories stick with me, which told me something about a culture that damns too many Englishmen to constant whining rather than getting things done. Not all Englishmen are tied to their armchairs, watching the footie on TV- Tom Coates and Cal Henderson, who spoke at the conference, are both English. But let’s face it, Cal had to leave the country before he could start building a visual language future.
Here’s the deal: the reason other people were onstage giving a speech that day is that got off their backside and did something. They started something. They were clueless enough to think they could create something useful.
So what about my anecdotes?
First I overheard two guys whining about why Joshua Schachter’s advice was worthless because he had already sold del.icio.us to Yahoo.
“What does he know about boot-strapping when he is a multimillionaire? It’s easy for him to say.”
Easy? How clueless can you be? Josh built del.icio.us in his spare time over 2 years while working at an investment bank. In his spare time… I was fairly shocked to hear these plonkers complaining Josh had not been explicit enough about how to build a Web app startup. His advice was MIGHTY. Here an MP3 of the material.
Later in the day I overheard another young guy talking to a couple of others, saying they couldn’t implement their idea because they didn’t have the right hardware. So I gave him my business card. I said “Look – don’t let hardware be a limiting factor. If you really do have a cool idea I bet I can get you a free server from Sun. I am an industry analyst and I am pretty well connected. I am sure John Fowler will give you a box if I ask him.”
He never contacted me. A word of advice to would-be infrapreneurs: whether or not you’re ready to take aim and fire, when someone you never met before offers to get you what you need in order to do something exciting, then at least ping him, or comment on his blog, or do something to find out if he’s legit and then.. contact him.
If only English developers and designers showed the kind of spirit and gumption we’re seeing from the British music scene at the moment. Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Hard-Fi, even the Ordinary Boys, whose lead singer went on that crappy Celebrity Big Brother show to try and increase the band’s profile, which could have, and still might, kill any indie credibility stone dead. I keep hearing the record on Radio 1 though.
At the beginning of the day I thought it was a bit condescending that a US firm was running the conference. By the end of the day though I realised why. Nobody English tried.
I don’t actually know what the underlying problem is, but it feels a bit like an entitlement culture – what have you done for me lately? If you want to succeed though you’re going to have make a contribution.
In the spirit of getting things done, I should say if you’re a European developer why not sign up for a euromashup conference. It will be free, and you can help decide where it is by using a map…
Or take on the Eclipse 20k euro challenge. I am willing to bet the award is not won by an Englishman.
The only people that can make a living from whining are standup comedians. There are many great English standups. I just wish there more great English startups. Maybe I just should just stop whining about it.
Disclaimer: I am half-American half-English, which either does, or does not, entitle me to these opinions.