A few weeks ago I was in London on a Friday and happened to pop into the ICA’s cafe in the afternoon. This is where the Tuttle Club, London’s Social Media Cafe, meets every Friday morning to do the sort of things we do at BSMC. Three hours after it had officially ended there were still people there working away on their laptops and having the sort of discussions that aren’t really possible during the more intense morning session. That got me thinking.
Last week, at SXSWi, I spent a lot of my time talking to people who were running coworking spaces and organising meetups in various cities around the world, sharing ideas, plans and notions about this kind of thing. One thing I’ve noticed about Americans is when they get a good thing going they tend to formalise it, BarCamp style, into a set of guidelines or rules so that others can take that knowledge and implement it in their own city. A number of these models are potentially useful for doing stuff in Birmingham but the one that immediately seemed relevant to the Social Media Cafe was Jelly.
The original Jelly took place in someone’s home but the principles are pretty simple. Provide free wifi, comfortable seating, an informal atmosphere and fill it with interesting people. What distinguishes this from the morning BSMC is it’s about getting work done. Here’s a handy video from the New York Jelly:
I don’t think that’s a million miles from what we’ve got going at Coffee Lounge.
So, here’s my proposal. When the networking finishes around noon those of us who don’t have to get back to a specific office stay on for a few hours for some ad-hoc coworking. The idea is we get work done but do so amongst our peers for mutual help, support and advice. This way we can maybe take the energy and passion generated in the morning and rather than let is dissipate turn it into something real.
And then we’ll see where it takes us. Maybe a formal Jelly, maybe something completely different. We’ll see…