Nightswimming GeekDinner

27 Dinner. Yes. My comments.

First a disclaimer, I blame this on the fine Tanqueray No. Ten I had tonight, this includes the language.

Next, three quotes, the first is from the song I listened to on the way home. The second is from the high priest of Gonzo. May he rest in peace. The third is my point.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I'm not sure all these people understand
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday
-- R.E.M

"Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later?
Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era -- the kind of peak
that never comes again. San Fransisco in the middle sixties was a very
special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe
not, in the long run... There was madness in any direction, at any hour.
If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or
La Honda... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic
universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...
And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory
over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't
need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting
-- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest
of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go
up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes
you can almost see the high-water mark -- that place where the wave finally
broke and rolled back."
-- Hunter S. Thompson

See all this? It's simply shaping tomorrow.
-- Mr. Atto, Black Hawk Down

I'll post the photos tomorrow. Thanks for the slide show images of our blogs, nice touch. Nice food. Nice community of people.

Down to business.

Why the fuck did I have to sit there and listen to some marketing chick on speed and some soulless blood sucking GSM network puppet telling us how WAP 2 and IRV is cool? "Get the .mobi domain" wtf!. The forces of Old and Evil.

The worst thing a geek can be is bored.
I was sitting in the corner with all the real geeks and we were bored. bored.

Ask them.

Back to the story. Why the quotes? Because.. if you dilute it too far it will die.

Blogging is about Gonzo journalism and exposing your underbelly. Brutal honesty. It is about optimism and subjective opinions. Newness. Fun. Revolution. Being a part of something. Community. Cape Town in the summertime. But. These things fade away. Replaced by everyday.

Please don't invite anymore boring people or I'm getting off at the next high water mark.

44 thoughts on “Nightswimming GeekDinner

  1. It was supposed to be a “geek dinner” not some invite boring marketing people from Quirk, Itouch, Cerbera, etc. to talk dribble. You summed up Angus from Itouch’s talk quite well. But you forgot to mention the USSD is also one of the new killer mobile technologies.

  2. FYI Jacques (I think u may have been asleep or in some kind or geek trance) – no one from Quirk spoke, Mike from Cerebra was damn funny and many people found Angus exceptionally interesting. Dude – your word vomit offends my eyes. Here’s a real easy solution – don’t go next time. Oh and to the team who put last night together – YOU ROCK.

  3. Hmm.. a hungover anonymous comment. I wonder who it could be.

    joe@blue[~]$ traceroute
    traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
    1 ( 0.301 ms 0.282 ms 0.136 ms
    2 ( 0.473 ms 0.426 ms 0.412 ms
    3 ( 4.836 ms 4.628 ms 36.377 ms
    4 ( 10.474 ms 6.137 ms 8.064 ms
    5 ( 8.053 ms 7.128 ms 7.114 ms
    6 ( 8.032 ms 7.718 ms 6.871 ms
    7 ( 8.931 ms 41.359 ms 9.128 ms
    8 ( 23.173 ms 8.585 ms 8.421 ms
    9 ( 40.011 ms ( 36.418 ms 44.506 ms
    10 ( 39.526 ms 38.818 ms 60.061 ms
    11 ( 48.734 ms 42.265 ms 39.954 ms
    12 ( 70.609 ms 44.227 ms 73.244 ms
    13 ( 61.128 ms 36.773 ms 43.963 ms
    14 ( 67.777 ms 43.994 ms 45.782 ms
    15 *

    ..those last hops look a bit strange. why does that router respond 4 times?

  4. As per usual a great post Joe – I love it when you just speak your mind. I agree whole-heartedly with the Gonzo Journalism aspect. Frikkin bare your soul. Make a difference otherwise what are you doing. Anyway enough of that.

    Hungover I didn’t get the feeling Jacque was personally attacking the the guys who organised the dinner but you made it personal – “word vomit” is a bit hectic “dude”. He was merely stating something which I believe has been on most people’s minds – it’s a geek dinner, not a marketing dinner. Or at least that’s what the name would lead us to believe. Perhaps that’s false advertising right there? Or maybe just a little bit of misrepresentation? Geek doesn’t necessarily mean techie, at least not to me, but there is an element of non-conformity and coupled with this is not selling out. I could go on and on, but I’m losing the momentum now. I’ll be back to rant later. Bye Joe ;)

  5. I think hungover @ quirk was misreading what I was saying about the event. The Lush, geeks are normally associated with being a ‘techie’, or as the dictionary definition goes along the lines of geek being short for a ‘computer geek’. Basically someone who is passionate for computers.

  6. Jacques thanks for setting me straight. There’s a lot of power in a name so I might as well have the correct definition before I go throwing it around willy-nilly.

  7. Ja, busted… lol. It’s true, I am a QuirkStar – but seeings as I was commenting in my own personal capacity it’s kinda redundant.
    I though last night’s dinner was awesome – I’m not a techie and perhaps that doesn’t qualify me as a Geek, who knows… I have a passion for the Internet (hope that counts).
    This “exposé” has caused me to do a little bit of thinking about blogging. Being a ‘corporate’ blogger can get a little tricky in terms of what can / can’t be said (refer to “word vomit – one of my fav phrases by the way)– so Joe you have prompted me to start my own blog that will have no affiliation to the company I work for – thanks for the inspiration ;-)
    The fact that you have comments that are moderated and that you publish your traceroute when some one comments anonymously is not particularly cool – but that’s just my (and by my I mean “my own, personal, private”) 2 cents. :-)

    Have a FAB one

  8. This wasn’t ever branded as a purely geek event by us, but targeted at people at the nexus of media, marketing and technology — hence the name change, 27dinner… not Geek Dinner. But, geeks are a very important part of that – particularly entrepreneurial geeks, who can derive value from the ideas, connections and collaborations that arise at these events.

    It was primarily meant to be a fun, environment for people to meet like-minded others – and there shouldn’t have been so many speakers (communication error on our side – we’d asked people to talk without conferring with each other).

    The idea is to develop web and tech industry relationships and collaboration – the conversations and meetings that Jacques mentioned are exactly the kind of thing that this event is about… So despite his criticism (and misspelling of my name and company’s name – which I think is disrespectful, sloppy and detracting from his point), the event achieved some of it’s objectives anyway.

    All that said… I’m taking this feedback into consideration for future 27dinners.

  9. First time I’ve been to one of these and I must say it was a bit of a mixed bag:
    – the Stormhoek story was really interesting
    – Verity’s story was equally interesting and the music was nice. Just too much of it
    – Shelly – she might know her stuff but not a very good speaker. Will have to meet her face-to-face to find out what she was talking about
    – Angus was interesting, but waaay too many acronyms and if felt like he had to summarise the whole 3gsm conference in 10mins. Why not pick one or two interesting things and focus on them for 5mins?
    – Guy – a very good speaker, but he didn’t have anything interesting to say. Maybe someone should give him a topic next time?

    I agree, not enough tech/internet stuff…

    On Relish – nice venue, nice food, ridiculously tiny portions.

    On the event – there were too many speeches and not enough opportunities to chat/meet early in the evening. Maybe there should be longer breaks between the talks? Apart from that, very well organised. Thanks to Mike and Dave.

  10. Hi Sarah

    I moderate comments because I get spam. I installed a wordpress module to at least prevent spam from machines, but I still get spam comments. Must be those little sweat shop bloggers taking a break from making L.V. bags.

    The traceroute.. well “Truth is Free, Information costs”.

  11. Nick, good comments.

    The challenge is going to be to get a good balance of geekyness and groovyness at these events.

  12. Joe,

    From what I understand(read) a lot of effort gets put into these evenings, without the organisers charging any type of fee.

    Surely if the evening was boring, and you were not enjoying yourself, why didn’t you stand up and leave ?

    Simple me thinks.

    Sounds like you had quite a “crap” evening ?
    Just my 2c worth ;)

    btw, I have never attended one of these dinners, and have no association the organisers.

  13. Hi Marc

    No, not at all, I had a fun time.. if I exclude about 15min of pain.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the GeekDinner idea. If I did not care I would not piss and moan.

  14. Hey Joe – I’m the ‘soulless blood sucking GSM network puppet’. Apologies if you didn’t find any of my talk worthwhile. I was hoping to give real examples and insight that would help in showing that ‘mobile’ is something to seriously consider.

    Also to show that a mix of old technologies – USSD, and WAP, as well as the new, new things like VideoIVR are both relevant – but just for very, very different applications and segments of the market. Oh, btw – its IVR – not IRV..

    ‘Blood sucking network puppet’ – sorry Joe, I don’t work for the networks, and have just the same view as everyone else about their voice charges being borderline criminal. However – I’d guard against discounting the networks they have built, the platforms they offer and the market size at the detriment of building awesome apps, product and services that take advantage of what’s available. You may even hit paydirt.

    On the .mobi – use it, or not. For a brand out there (that you may be consulting to, working for, etc) – I bet they’d appreciate the advice from you and the $10 spent on securing their next TLD.

    I agree with you on – ‘it is about optimism and subjective opinions. Newness. Fun. Revolution. Being a part of something. Community.’ Now think of how the mix of old and new, some great ideas and the mix of the right people can make all of these things a fantastic reality with mobile products and services – with the potential of making a difference to many, many millions of South Africans (and Africans).

  15. Jacques – some comments.

    I’m not from iTouch – I have my own mobile and social media business.

    Your comment – ‘you forgot to mention the USSD is also one of the new killer mobile technologies.’

    That’s not what I said or implied. I emphasized that USSD is old, very, very old (remember *41*123#). What I did say was that its use has grown over 300% in the last year – to tens of millions of sessions per month. That growth is something to take note of.

    What I am saying is that it does not have to be a new technology to be relevant – and especially in SA where 80%+ of the market is prepaid and have fairly basic phones. Every single phone in this country can access USSD. Consider the potential opportunities of this.

    Granted – we all want to be on the cutting edge and play with the newest toys/tech/etc – but sometimes its the simple (and older) things that can make a bigger difference when they become adopted by the mass market.

  16. First of all, to Jacques who is clearly a tosser who can’t speak for himself, spell, or figure out who paid for his shitty dinner on Tuesday – grow a set of balls. Geeks have balls, don’t they? Is that in the definition Joe?

    To Joe… :P

    On the subject of balls, how is it that after such a disgusting evening you stared at me like a kermit drowned in a pool and responded to my enquiry as such:

    “Joe, did you enjoy the evening”
    “Let’s do coffee next time I’m in Cape Town”

    You might be honest in your blog – but I can go one better and be honest in real life. w00t (I think that’s the geek happiness expression).

    I look forward to another marketing oriented 27 Dinner in April, and to seeing you all there!

    P.S. Joe, did you get that proposal from us for the marketing strat you asked us to do for Frogfoot?

  17. Yo Mike

    Long time listener, first time comment? (-:

    Read the reply above to Marc… “I had a fun time”.

    Hmm.. Ja, Ja.. sounds like the script from Blood Diamond. *grin* Now the Prius thing makes sense.

    I think you guys did a very good job organising, as always. I just think we have a different idea about all this. Example, I don’t see myself going to Primi in Joburg. I just don’t like people that do brand extensions.

    Primi food, Primi hotel, Primi sms, Primi porn.

    The cd business card was uber lame, but I can look past that. The statement that “product launches” should be channeled though your company was mildly annoying. But..

    What made me write this post is that the speakers just did not fit my idea of a group of people I would ask to talk about new and interesting things. This and the fact that a big part of the evening was taken up by having to listen to their marketing pitches.

    I was sad that with all the potential and opportunity in that room it felt like all the kids were made to sit still, listen to the preachy jabber and not interact. Worse, I don’t think the geeks wanted to interact with the speakers, the topics were just too lame.

    I also feel uncomfortable with who decided the list of preachers. One did actually leap into religious discourse.

    Ok, I’ll stop now.

    ps. Proposal is still in my inbox, thanks. As explained in the meeting, it’s not 100% my call.

    pps. I don’t drink coffee. I must have been really glazed over. I guess the cardio makes one a cheap drunk… scratch that, value for money drunk.

  18. Angus

    Thanks for your comment. I see your point. “Mobile” (as in GSM) makes money. Nobody is going to dispute that. In fact it prints money. It’s hard to think of a better business to have than being in the Porn SMS racket.

    Consumer culture loves GSM. They are dumb enough to pay R20 for a ringtone.. sorry, not dumb enough, conditioned well enough. This can not be a rational

    The whole thing makes me nauseous.

    I’m a bit of an edge case. I don’t use SMS’s. Never. I hate SMS’s openly and passionately. I don’t have voice mail and I never leave voice mail. In fact I think just the fact that people pay for reaching a voice mailbox without the option to disconnect without cost at that point is evil.

    I’m not even going to go into the anti competitive nature of the networks and who owns whom.

    Life would be so much more simple if I did not have these business ethics issues, but..

    “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
    — Ayn Rand

    No, I don’t smoke crack. :-P

  19. Hey Joe.

    The mobile porn business is probably the worst to be in right now. Everyone from the networks to the govt regulators are trying to cull it, so don’t do it mate….

    On your other points ‘R20 for a ringtone’, ‘hate SMS’, ‘don’t have voicemail’, etc. This emphasizes my point exactly! I am saying that ‘mobile’ is more than sms, ringtones and voicemail as it provides the opportunity to develop/offer fantastic apps, products and services – that use network capabilities beyond the sms.

    By using the data capabilities (plus things like USSD, WAP, etc) you can reach masses of South Africans and make a real difference to their lives. Cheaply. Remember the example of crop prices for the local farmer?

    The collective brainpower in geekdom can make these things real. It just needs the will (and some insight).

  20. Joe, all relevant points. The business card thingies were handed out not because they are for our company, but because they’re part of a customer of our’s launch. The whole campaign needs feedback, so I thought who better to ask than you guys? The guys in the know. Plus, the winner of the campaign gets a Macbook Pro and a Canon camera. Not bad. Seeing as the whole campaign relies on effecive social networking, I thought you’d have a pretty good chance, as bloggers, to take advantage of it. In retrospect perhaps I should have told you about it and let you come to me to fetch one if you were interested – my apologies.

    Also, this is not a geek dinner and never was. It’s a 27 Dinner. It’s an off-shoot. That was a demand made by the geek community when I tried to ‘hijack’ it in the first place. I purposely do not make mention of geek dinners anywhere in my communications or on the wiki. That was an assumption.

    The jibe about religious discourse is unacceptable. People get to stand up and say what they want. I have no problem with you guys preaching geek, which is a religious discourse in it’s own right, what happened to freedom of speech?

    Dave and I chose speakers because we believed they could address the wide range of interests represented. We weren’t spot on. We weren’t completely wrong. We are learning. In future perhaps we should crowdsource the process and let you guys vote for speakers on the evening? I don’t know. Either way we learned.

    So thanks for your (and I mean it) wise input. Apart from the anti-religious sentiment and ridiculous comments about the Jozi venue, you make perfect sense.

    I will see you next time I’m in CT, but not for coffee…

  21. Just wanted to point out, once again, that we didn’t ever hijack the geek dinner concept.

    We actually started the geekdinners in SA (and barcamps), and as Mike points out – 27dinner was never punted as a Geek Dinner, simply a less daunting alternative for people who are interested in trends and innovation in technology, media and business.

    That said, kudos to you on reframing the whole thing – you are giving people a word to use (hijack), which makes it easier for them to speak about the issue in your terms.

    “If you want a crowd, start a fight” – Banksy

  22. Dave

    As far as I know Conrad Strydom started the CPT Barcamp movement.

    Does “We actually started the geekdinners” include Max?

    Also if you claim to have started the blogger geek dinners, why did you feel you needed to “change” it to 27?

    If I remember correctly Mike changed the original geekdinner wiki, renamed it to 27, then backtracked his money ass out of there and started a new wiki. Now the original geekdinner wiki is dead. What am I missing?

    I don’t like that pbwiki thing anyway.

    “People with opinions just annoy each other.” -The Dali Lama


  23. Thanks for the mention Jo.. you’re an angel. eish naughty marketers, always relegating the geeks to the background lols. I don’t give a damn actually whether I get the mention or not, because organising them is always worth the effort for the awesome offline connections.

    Quick 1 in correction ‘cos Dave & Conrad did the BarCamp together – I was a total slacker on that one, but geekspin & marketinggeek made it happen.

    The drama from the geekdinner/27 thing was supposed to be a quiet disagreement btwn Mike & I that got out of hand and spawned a beast with two heads.

    Best if the one siamese twin gets on with the other, because we’re sharing the same body!

    If you’ve ever developed software you’ll know what I mean. Having your marketing & dev not getting on means the project suffers & we all end up looking like idiots.

    We’ll just have to get more competitive about creating better & more exciting events than the other.. and keep inviting each other. (and heaven knows geeks can be competitive!)
    Classic co-opetition for the greater good >> I don’t want to bloody well leave SA:
    I want the brilliant people I know to do so well that we become a global tech hotspot & every1 wins.

    Make it so >>

    PS.. thanks to Dave for staying the course on organising this dinner – I know that a lot of the original plans he had for the eve didn’t go as expected (longwinded talks wasn’t on the bill – tighter discipline on the speakers for the next pleeeeeeease!) I know Tertia & I toddled outside & I would’ve LOVED to have chatted more to the brilliant people who came. He’s a marketer though & if there’s one thing any decent marketer does – it’s listen to feedback – and he got a lot, I know the next will be cooking!

  24. @mike when I was writing my blog post after midnight (prob the worst time to write one when you’ve been up since 4am in the morning for work due to work).

    @angus: yes I’m aware that USSD is taking off and has huge potential. I’ve played with various USSD applications over the years but the one issue I have with it is that (a) people who use premium rated USSD fail to mention that it’s R 1.20/minute on their first screen and (b) sessions timeout after two-three minutes, before you finish typing in your email address into a reply box you are disconnected.

  25. Max

    It would be very interesting where a bit of competitiveness takes the geekdinner idea..

    Mike: yes, geeks have balls.

  26. Jacques. USSD charges are now 20c/20 seconds – ie 60 cents per minute. And the timeouts are 3 mins on VC and 4 mins on MTN.

    I agree that there should be pricing on the first page – especially when premium-rated USSD surfaces!

  27. Joe,

    As the only person here that probably wouldn’t call himself a geek and know only the basics of computers, I feel I would like to comment on the loose use of the term ‘geek’. I’ve read some definitions of the word on this blog and looked it up on the nets’ dictionary, etc and I feel I want to share my thoughts on it and get your feedback.

    I think the word was probably started some years ago as an alternative to the word nerd as it might be taken as derogatory. It seems by definition a nerd is higher on the scale of computer knowledge than a geek, only coupled with bad social skills :) The word ‘nerd’ was probably started, in my view, by people refering to a person who was sitting in front of the pc all day and being an absolute expert in his field, and thus creating groundbreaking work. I doubt he was sitting there and suddenly got an opitemy and thought “hell, theres no word for what I’m doing” so decided to call himself a nerd! It was most probably given to him by people around him.

    Which brings me to my point. I think a word like geek and nerd is something given to someone by the man on the street, not by oneself. I’ve heard someone the other day call himself a geek that I know for sure knows less about computers than I do! It seems that anyone who knows where the ‘on’ button is for a pc or sells software or even only assembles a computer thinks he’s a geek. Not to me you’re not! The term seems to be thrown around in your industry as if it’s a title- you move from techie (or similar), to geek to nerd.

    In my opinion, save it for the people who deserve it. If you are doing groundbreaking work, developed a new operating system, cured computer cancer,… something that defines you from the guy next to you and people are hanging on your every word and following your every move to see what you’ll come up with next, thats a geek. Just because I use mathematical formulas every day as an mechanical design engineer, does not make me a ‘math-geek’ or a ‘design-geek’. If I was to do that, what would you call Niels Bohr or Albert Einstein (to name a few)- super-duper-uber-math-nerd? Few people feature on a scale with them in math terms. Compare yourself to those people before sitting back and calling yourself an expert in your field.

    That’s my definition of a ‘geek’.

  28. WSE

    You live for watching the Simpsons and you took the time to write this.. and research the topic. Face it dude, you are a geek.

  29. Joe

    My point is, I think a geek has more to it. If that was your definition, what would a supreme expert at following and writing a blog be?

    The measuring scale should have been lowered on that term a while ago already. Geek is too close to the pinnacle of your field and everyone is calling themselfs by that title and it looses all meaning.

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