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Ian Ozsvald picture

This is Ian Ozsvald's blog, I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, founder of the Annotate.io social media mining API, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, co-founder of the SocialTies App, author of the A.I.Cookbook, author of The Screencasting Handbook, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and FivePoundApps and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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4 October 2009 - 18:11Vicinity-like iPhone app for ‘nearby people I’ve met on-line’?

Another from the crazy ideas dept….

Whilst preparing for the ‘How to build a network‘ workshop last week I got to wondering about conferences and groupings of geeks (and Normals, but they need to catch-up with our tech first).

Why is it that when I’m at a conference or event, I don’t know if anyone nearby is a person that I haven’t met in real-life but someone that I do know online?  Surely there’s an iPhone app for that…

Here’s what I want – I start (proposed duff name) ‘WhosHere’ and it tells me, via my location:

  • TF people are nearby that are Twitter friends (two way reciprocal relationship or at least I’m following them)
  • NF people are nearby that I’ve referred to on Twitter but I don’t follow or vice-versa
  • BL people are nearby who have a blog that I’ve commented on (see below for details)
  • EM people are nearby who I’ve referred to in email recently (see below for details)
  • Same for Facebook, LinkedIn etc…

Probably I can mark off people that I know well so it doesn’t keep showing them to me (or maybe they appear in a separate tab?) – I’m interested in finding out when people I don’t know well are nearby as this will help me to turn weak-ties into stronger-ties.

Tieing a location to Twitter friends is probably really easy (assuming they’re posting location info). Presumably searching for people tweeting via a location is also easy (since iPhone apps already do it).

For the blog (BL) report the iPhone app would need to talk to a service that can check the Twitter profiles of nearby people, reference their blogs (or use a social graph explorer) and determine if I have left them a comment (since I’d use my domain when commenting) or linked to their blog.  I’d love to see this in an app!

For the email (EM) report the app would need to read my email (can it do that?) and look for names or URLs that are mentioned.  From these it can do a similar lookup via nearby Twitter people as for the blog report above.  Knowing that a company or individual is nearby that I’ve referred to in an email with a friend could be really interesting.

Am I barking up a crazy tree or does this idea make some sense?


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in Mor Consulting, founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

5 Comments | Tags: Business Idea, Life

2 October 2009 - 11:43“How to Build a Network” workshop for WiredSussex interns

Yesterday I ran a workshop on ‘How to build a network’ for 35 WiredSussex interns.  The presentation is clear, the links below will help.

During the talk I linked to some OpenStreetMap early progress videos for London 2006- and worldwide-2008 edits, these demonstrate a nice graphical result of building personal networks around a project.

Early on I ran an idea based on ‘free schools‘, I asked everyone to name something they could teach and something they could learn.  People put up their hand if they could teach something that another wanted to learn – of the 35 in the room we had 33 hits for skills that could be taught, sometimes over half the room could teach that skill. The goal was to show everyone that they had many as-yet-unknown links with everyone in the room which could help build their network.

Everyone wrote their skills/needs on a post-it and WiredSussex has listed them all here, here’s an example:

Roughly, here’s what I covered:

  1. Be yourself, be human, don’t be a shiny-suited-salesman-with-secret-handshakes
  2. Everyone spoke to someone they didn’t know and then introduced their name, their company and how they either met a friend or started a conversation – this was an ice-breaker aimed at getting everyone to meet one new person
  3. Laying the foundation of a FreeSchool (ignore the anarchistic overtones!  just take the general idea of non-formal education and skill sharing) using Post-Its to show ‘something you can teach’ and ‘something you want to learn’, then each person read out what they want to learn and others put up their hands if they had a relevant skill.  33 of the 35 interns could learn a desired skill from others in the room, only 2 misses is not bad at all.
  4. 10 years of my experiences learning to network, working for others and building my own businesses and projects all in 15 minutes
  5. Getting 3 people to stand-up and explain ‘here’s what I’m good at’ (for reference later)
  6. 10 minute break for the interns to meet someone new – most of them succeeded (which was rather lovely)
  7. Ranking business cards using bluetack on the wall – which cards were ‘most communicative’ to ‘least communicative’ and discussing what makes for a good or bad card
  8. Getting a Moo card – super easy card creation for personal cards and projects
  9. Who remembers people that were introduced earlier – emphasising that if you meet someone for a personal chat or stand-up you’re more likely to be remembered – so always take the opportunity to be memorable
  10. Online networking – who uses blogs, twitter, facebook etc
  11. Homework – interns to mail me a write-up on their blog, tweet, facebook posting or whatever that links them to the event – I’ll then update this post when they mail me the link
  12. Discussion of local events (listed below)
  13. Places and people the interns might come across – The Skiff, The Werks, SInC, Cafe Delice, Jon Markwell, Paul Silver, Sarah Bird, Seb Lee-Delisle, Emily Toop, Matt Weston

Some local events: Likemind, OpenCoffeeSussex, £5 App, BrightonFarm, FlashBrighton, BrightArray, BuildBrighton, BrightonRobotics, Slackspace, Brighton Business on LinkedIn, WriteClub, BANG, Brighton Illustrators, Girl Geeks, UXBri, CultureGeeks, GeekWineThing.

Someone (say if it was you!) asked me in the pub about the state of Artificial Intelligence (that’s another subject of mine), I came across this article on the End of the AI Winter which you might want to read.

My projects include working for MASA, building IMOzsvaldSystems, building Mor Consulting Ltd, co-building ShowMeDo with Kyran Dale, co-creating £5 App with John Montgomery, building ProCasts, writing The Screencasting Handbook.

My pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog – feel free to follow me or link to me.

Thanks Hon Mond Ng for the tweet.  Thanks to Maria Welby and Gearoid Conlon for Linking In, Alexandra Gaiger for Linking In and blogging, David Howard for Linking In and welcome Stefan Daniels to LinkedIn.  Hi Katie, Oli.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in Mor Consulting, founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

1 Comment | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life