James Governor's Monkchips

On Beers and Innovation in London, and Irish names

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What is it with the Web?
I talk about why the UK isn’t fostering startups (too much whining and not enough action).
Then Stephen posts about Denver tech meetups, and why its nice to see people face to face every now and then, asking: is there a business model there for the post cubicle era? He cites my The Pub Is The Place.
The same day I get an email from Deirdre telling me about Beers and Innovation 2. Its on March 30th. I plan to attend if I can.
Irish names – love them. My first exposure to one of the “confusing” names was a girl in kindergarten in Greece-she was called Siobhan. I remember being quietly fuddled when she explained how her name was spelled, but knew immediately Gaelic had some strong magic to it… Even “Sean” is somewhat counterintuitive. Come on then- what is your favourite Irish name, or which name threw you when you first saw it spelled out?


  1. I once knew a girl from Dublin called Aoife. Prounounced “Eefuh”, not “A wife”.

  2. You had to say “Irish” and not just “Gaelic” didn’t you? 🙂

    Our boys are named Ian and Sean, from strong Scottish Gaelic roots – and we stayed with simple spellings. I always loved the name Siobhan, and that was my chosen name if we had a girl. I have Scottish cousins named Fiona and Catriohna and also love those names, too.

  3. sorry about that – i did go with irish. thought about gaelic. but went with irish. catriohna – that is very nice.

  4. Here’s some more: Gearoid , Saidbh, Maedb, Ó’Conchubhair, Laoise, Cian, Daire, ,..

    …oh yeah:



  5. But to a more serious topic – let’s widen this discussion a bit. If you extend the argument to Europe then it starts to look a tad weak. At least at one level.

    Sigurd Rinde has just built me a time and expense app in 34 minutes from OO components and using process flow with a liberal sprinkling of tags.

    I’ve written about it already. Here’s the deal. Sig is Norwegian, lives in France and is using some of Britain’s finest out of Cambridge. Jeff Clavier over at Software Only might be interested in this…what about Gabe Rivera?

  6. If you go back to your earlier post you really are being harsh on UK/Europe startups on the basis of a small (whining) sample. My colleagues at Twinfield in the Netherlands are doing excellent work creating the no. 1 online accounting solution in Europe, and my other business partners in the UK (Mtivity, OpenCRM, Business Collaborator, Tribal) are doing good work too.

  7. actually david the post was specifically about Brit whiners wasn’t it? i wasn’t commenting on European innovation more broadly. and of course the sample was small – these were anecdotes, that show something. it wasn’t a statistical poll.

    can you really deny that statistically speaking the UK, and I am afraid Europe more broadly, is not generating as many hot startups and successful examples of technology transfer as California.

    its not just IT. how many successful British manufacturing firms are there – Dyson? pilkington – about to be acquired by a japanese company.

    feel free to get any of those companies to ping me. i am interested in, and am usually a cheerleader for, local innovation. i have been known to argue the UK is full of innovators (many work at the BBC…. culture, eh.) but the carson home really brought it home.

    Skype was scandinavian – it was based in the UK for about three days while it got acquired by eBay. Fon is spanish.

  8. James O’Governer has a ring to it 🙂

  9. so let me get this straight dennis – you, not me, extend the argument to europe and then call it weak? isn’t that a straw man or somethin? jeepers. and yes i am v keen to get on the thingamy train too, from what i have seen so far. you know i am a tag nutter.

    cheers Bill – those are top. Ó’Conchubhair? How do i pronounce that one?

    Cheers John. My son is called Farrell – which is I believe derived from O’Fearghal. But given that there is already a James McGovern out there- i should probably be a bit wary of adding an o.

  10. My perspective – you’ve got the US (aka silicon Valley), you’ve got Asia (Mumbai+Shanghai) and you’ve got….UK? Not a reasonable comparison. I suggested Europe because in my mind that represented a fairer comparison. Why? If you look at the Valley it is populated by people of all nations. It isn’t a strictly US homegrown market.

    There’s some great brains in Cambridge but I think your argument is predicated on the wrong assumptions.

    I’ve asked Jeff Clavier why VCs don’t invest in Europe on a number of occasions. Really simple answer – it’s not where the action is. Nothing to do with culture. So Ray Lane was in India last week – didn’t notice him floating in this direction.

    Last year there was Innovate Europe in Zaragosa. There were some stunning examples of ‘stuff,’ rip-offs (IMHO) of which are being punted at TechCrunch and other places as brand spanking new. Wny?

    Because if it ain’t over there then it ain’t nowhere. Bottom line – wingeing or not – UK or Europe – the money goes where it thinks the best action is. And at the moment that’s the Bay Area.

    The sadness as always is that the home grown (UK/Irish/French whatever) talent does what it has to – it follows the money.

    So if there is any wingeing at all then I can understand it. But who said life is fair?

  11. James – this is geting spooky now. In my immediate family the other women are called Siobhan and Aoife.

    Inspired by the gorgeous sunny weather, I looked up the origin of whingeing this morning and found the most detail on US site word-detective.com:

    “In any case, “whinge” is basically the same word as our good old-fashioned “whine,” meaning “to complain peevishly.” Both whinge” and “whine” are ultimately from the Germanic “hwinan,” meaning “to whine.” The “ge” ending of “whinge” is evidence of its origin as the Scots and Northern English form of “whine,” much as “clenge” and “ringe” were at one time the Northern forms of “cleanse” and “rinse.”
    It comes directly from the Old English word “hwinsian,” and first appeared in its modern English spelling in the early 18th century.”

    So it’s a longstanding tradition round these parts 😉

    Dennis – I agree with much of what you say, and London/UK obviously doesn’t have the scale of the US or the Far East/Asia. But in terms of what we are fostering, is the discussion here fostering realism or pessimism and what’s the difference? If it’s a self-fufilling prophecy, what’s the point? (uh oh, I feel an existential haze enveloping me…)

    A couple of things though:

    If you look at London it is populated by people of all nations. Isn’t your point about the Valley that it’s got a global mix of technology professionals – not the same as being generally cospmopolitan, which London must be the epitome of..?

    Given what Ryan Carson said at The Future Of Web Apps about the costs of geting a start-up off the ground, is lack of VC backing being over-emphasised as the first UK-specific stumbling block on pathway to success?

    Not everything begins in the Valley Stateside – Del.icio.us recently had to up sticks and move there from its home turf of New York so Joshua Schachter could stop making money in Wall St (in his day job) and start making it with Yahoo! There are other examples too numerous to mention but I thought I’d pick that one becuase of the Web Apps conference connection.

    Also, mobile innovation has been totally ignored in this discussion and that’s an area where Europe excels, along with the Far East. Talking of which, mobilista Russell Beattie recently had a few timely words to say about the whole Web 2.0 thing, (‘WTF 2.0’) that might float your boat Dennis…


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