Why TechLudd should stop before it starts

Techludd logo

[Update. The TechLudd Web site to which this post refers no longer exists. The site and message I commentated on has since been replaced by a new professional one. The logo above was the original one used by the site. It’s also worth pointing out that the new posts on TechCrunch and other blogs link to this post and the new TechLudd Web site, thereby taking the entire debate out of context.]

I love to see people spend their quality time trying to help others. I’m also fond of collaborating, networking and connecting people myself. But, I draw a line in the sand when helping to improve the ecosystem could potentially do more harm than good.

There’s a proposed initiative in Ireland called TechLudd which I think is likely to damage the Ireland Inc brand. On the surface and to an untrained eye, it looks like a great plan. Well, actually it is a great plan and there is nothing other than great intentions behind it. But the execution isn’t great.

According to the site

The aim of TechLudd is simple. It’s an attempt to seed some the hugely open and beneficial networking culture of the Silicon Valley here in “The Auld Sod”. The idea is to create a relaxed social environment where people can socialise with their peers make business contacts or both and hopefully see others demonstrate some cool technology too.

Who should come?

– Founders (of Tech Startups), Developers, Investors, Designers, Journalists, Students, Managers, Directors, Consultants, Marketers, PR, Lawyers, Salespeople, Recruiters, Office Workers, and Everyone Else who has an interest in new technology.

The idea is to be as open to the needs of the various communities that are involved in the newtech community from “inventors to investors” so all your ideas for venues, speakers, covering the event, attendees, press, format, sponsors, and more will help keep the events fresh going forward.

The main thing that’s wrong here is the audience it’s trying to attract. It’s clear to me that the people behind this initiative don’t have experience running networking events and they certainly haven’t collaborated with people who do. I’d bet my house that people such as Fergus, Damien, Conor, James or Tom haven’t been consulted or asked for help prior to starting anything. You shouldn’t try to implement a community initiative without asking those already in that space, for help and advice.

You can’t possibly appeal to absolutely everyone who has an interest in new technology. It’s important to know your audience and then deliver content that’s contextual to them. Why on earth would a salesperson want to network with a coder?

The site goes onto say

First Event

The first event is in Dublin on the 24th but after that the plan is that it will move around the cities on the third thursday of the month. We’re open though so this may change if people prefer a different format.

If you’re interested in helping out in any way (even improving this website) please add your name and what you see yourself helping out with and jump on board – the more the better…

On the surface this looks ok. There’s no harm in providing a half-baked idea and then filling in the blanks as you learn more. Although I’d advise that this approach only be taken when you already have a name that’s respected by the community.

Moreover, you don’t invite people who live in faraway places to an event that’s missing 99% of the ingredients. According to the wiki and Facebook page, they don’t have a keynote speaker, they don’t know who’s going to pitch, they don’t know where it will be hosted and they don’t know who’s going to attend. So, why on earth would people like Loic Le Meur or Ajit Jaokar who have been invited, sign up to this event? I certainly wouldn’t.

This approach will do more damage than good because it may cast a shadow over any future event in Ireland. Ireland is such a small place that people may assume the same organisers are behind them all. I don’t run events in Ireland so I’m not putting myself in the mix.

This initiative was brought to my attention by someone who shall remain nameless as I’m not speaking on their behalf. What I will say, is that they are very well connected and run great events in Ireland. They hold the same opinion as me, but would articulate their thoughts differently. I tend to just say it as I see it without the diplomatic frills.

Another point of contention for me is the constant comparison that’s made between Ireland and the Valley. If it’s an Irish community initiative, it should be branded as such.

I think the logo sums it up nicely. What do you make of it? A caveman holding a club in front of a computer is hardly a good impression to give about Irish entrepreneurs. I certainly don’t want to be associated with it. I actually find it embarrassing and very insulting.


I think any type of initiative to bring people together is great. However, I’d like to advise the TechLudd guys to collaborate before starting a collaborative project like this. Speak to people like Damien, Fergus, Conor, James and Tom. Get their buyin, advice and help.

If I had my way, I’d scrap this initiative and run whatever they had in mind, under Web2Ireland.

Comments  Join the discussion

  1. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Jonathan said...

    Coming in from the outside it seems to me that both parties are trying to achieve the same goal. If anything I always believe that competition breeds success and having two separate initiatives will never hurt the Irish software industry provided that the people behind both efforts have the desire and willpower to succeed.

    Best of luck to both parties. Hope to see everyone who commented at whatever conferences are organized.

  2. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Jonathan – I can’t disagree with your point. What I would say though, is that the quality must always be good enough to compete with other events on the global stage – people can only attend so many events. We’ll otherwise end up putting people off any type of event in Ireland in the future. As Loic says, it’s about ‘people’, so we need to get everyone behind one initiative to help build the ecosystem in Ireland.

    We’re not discussing competitive ‘conferences’, we’re talking about competing ‘initiatives’ that clearly have the same goal and therefore should work together under one banner.

    Perhaps I’ll host a dinner in Dublin to discuss this outside of the meetup I’m arranging to discuss the introduction of a new industry association and the meetup I’m arranging for Enterprise Ireland and entrepreneurs. That’ll be 3 dinners – need to be careful not to grow extra chins though! 🙂

  3. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Conor O'Neill said...

    As long as the curry is good 🙂

  4. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » When Irish spleens are vented said...

    […] but these are the basics: TechLudd plans to run a regular, possibly monthly meetup. But Walsh argues in a post titled “Why TechLudd should stop before it starts” that another networking […]

  5. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Dennis Howlett said...

    @PaulWalsh’s point about quality is very well made. There are so many events these days, a lot of overlap. LeWeb3 was truly stand out for me though I’m told some of the US contingent were not that impressed. Maybe it’s because so many of the ‘usual suspects’ were in one place. Either way, it was great for me and most of those I bumped into.

  6. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Marcus Mac Innes said...

    @DennisHowlett – “There are so many events these days, a lot of overlap”… Really?? – The reason TechLudd was proposed and might bring value is exactly because there are so few networking opportunities in Ireland.

  7. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Robin Blandford [ByteSurgery] » Let 100 Flowers Bloom - Digital Media Engineer said...

    […] DUBLIN, IRELAND – I’ve been following James commentary and I like what Niall Larkin had to say about control of Ireland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Mike is now pitching in on TechCrunch (oooh and I got a TechCrunch t-shirt for Christmas – thanks Rafe!). So here’s my gut reaction on Paul’s (hi Paul!) TechLudd post… […]

  8. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Eoghan McCabe said...

    People interested in this discussion should read these three strong, parallel points:

    1. Comment by Gary Reid on TechCrunch: http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/12/24/when-irish-spleens-are-vented/#comment-87968
    2. Comment by Niall Larkin on Eirepreneur: http://eirepreneur.blogs.com/eirepreneur/2007/12/techludd-web2ir.html#c94685790
    3. Post by Robin Blandford: http://www.bytesurgery.com/blog/2007/12/24/let-100-flowers-bloom/#comment-20412

  9. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    Eoghan – “clique’s” as per Gary’s comment on TechCrunch is crap. There are no cliques within the networking scene in Ireland – you just have those who are willing to put in the time. Those same people are the most open and transparent people you’ll meet in Ireland too – so using the word clique to describe them is complete crap.

  10. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Marcus people don’t turn up to the networking events that take place so we need to improve how they’re communicated to begin with – i.e. build the ecosystem. Check out Damien Mulley’s blog post about his thoughts regarding the last one – can’t remember the link.

  11. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Jonathan said...

    @Paul, I’m just getting into the current scene here in Ireland. I’ve been living in China for the past few years and was very much immersed in the IT community in Beijing and Dalian.

    I’m quite looking forward to whatever networking events are created, I also agree that there must definitely be a main focal point for the best people in the business to congregate. Who that group is or what banner they unite under certainly remains to be seen, one must be aware that that does not mean this group is going to remain that focal point. That must of course be earned through hard work. Let the competition for the domination of Ireland begin.

  12. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  appleton said...

    “Why on earth would a salesperson want to network with a coder?”

    These ignorant attitudes prevent anything commercially interesting coming off this *island*.

  13. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @appleton – two comments on this blog and neither one was constructive. Perhaps you could share with us, the reason you think my comment warrants such a retort?

    Anyone with any form of experience running networking events will know that getting likeminded people together is paramount to the success of such events. I wasn’t picking out ‘sales’ people or ‘coders’ – I was only giving an example of types of people who wouldn’t ordinarily attend the same events alongside everyone else proposed by TechLudd.

    Perhaps you could elaborate a little rather than take a shot across the bow.

  14. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Clunky Flow » Heath Ledger dies. World economy stumbles. Auspices are good for TechLudd said...

    […] Techludd was first mooted, some hotly demanded it stop before it starts. And protested that the scene is already well enough served. That another event would simply dilute […]

  15. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » TechLudd - not so luddite after all said...

    […] being branded an event which could “do more harm than good” and was poised to “damage the Ireland Inc brand“, TechLudd, a first-time event […]

  16. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Tripleodeon » Two things I have learnt about the Irish said...

    […] TechLudd this week exhibited the best of the latter and the worst of the former. […]

  17. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Claim Blog » Blog Archive » I love to see people spend their quality time trying to help others…. said...

    […] Florida Progressive Coalition Blog wrote an interesting post today on I love to see people spend their quality time trying to help others….Here’s a quick excerptI would never claim to be a great networker but I just cannot support … I’ve changed this so it links to your blog. […]

  18. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    For the sake of the record (only), I have updated this post with the following:

    [Update. The TechLudd Web site to which this post refers no longer exists. The site and message I commentated on has since been replaced by a new professional one. The logo above was the original one used by the site. It’s also worth pointing out that the new posts on TechCrunch and other blogs link to this post and the new TechLudd Web site, thereby taking the entire debate out of context.]

  19. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Social Networking – Your Way or Mine? at James Gallagher said...

    […] responded in the form of condescending and dismissive diatribes of how Techludd should stop before it starts. When change start to overtake those we label the game-changers what […]

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