Spring Comes Early for Oxford Geeks

Friday, February 15, 2008

As the January blues began to lift, web developers, designers, neophiles, hardware hackers and hardcore programmers all descended on a local Oxford pub last night for the first in 2008’s Oxford Geek Nights (OGNs). Thanks to Google's drinks sponsorship the atmosphere at the Jericho Tavern was warmer and more convivial than the chilly February evening outside.

The OGNs are semi-formal evenings consisting of alternating speakers and chat. People interested in the web, new technology, beautiful design, or fascinating ideas can get together and be inspired by the event. Last night we began with two fascinating keynote speakers: Rufus Pollock from the Open Knowledge Foundation talked about how the techniques behind distributed software projects might help us crack open the vast silos of information already available on the web; and Denise Wilton from Moo explained how to establish a character for your website, paying careful attention to exactly how you want your visitors to see you, and how to establish consistency of tone.

After some announcements from local groups (discussing among other things the mooted Barcamp Oxford), and another break for the thirsty (courtesy again of Google's Open Source Team), we began our microslots. These are less formal, five-minute talks that anyone can volunteer for, in the weeks leading up to the event. We heard some really interesting talks from such as: Tom “Carbon” Dyson, technical director at Torchbox (the OGN’s other major sponsor), discussing development of CO2 emissions accounting software; Jon “Firefox” Hicks on the fundamentals of icon design; and Andrew “Who Should You Vote For?” Chapman, who treated us to some lessons learned from going viral.

To a still-full house of happy geeks, we ended the night with a raffle of books from Friends of ED, and a brief look forwards to OGN6, planned for mid-April. Everyone present seemed to have a great night, and we'd love for you to join us whenever you're in the neighborhood. If this post hasn't got you convinced, you might want to check out the video from


Full talks are available as always on the OGN website.