(Thanks to Paul O’Malley for taking the photo)
We talked about some interesting things. One stream of thought that struck me when we were talking about the work that Braun’s company does is where long-term value comes from in building IT businesses, when Doc compared the IT development to construction work, in that it is similarly concerned with building infrastructure.
My idea was that the long-term value will come from developing long term assets, rather than from the actual development work itself. This is how many construction companies have developed. For example, there is a large group of hotels in Dublin that was founded by a guy who started off building hotels.
From this we somehow progressed to the idea of discussing relationships and value, and that transactions were only part of trade. More important was the ‘conversation’ around the transaction (for example, the discussion between a builder and a homeowner about the kind of extension they want to build, or between a software developer and a client about the software she needs to sort out her company’s processes, or the conversation between a clothes designer and purchasers, to find out what the market wants).
Then I talked a little bit about Local Ireland, a project which I worked on for several years. The concept behind Local Ireland had been to enhance and exploit the relationship between Irish people and their home place in Ireland. The idea is that Irish people would be willing to pay a premium for goods (for example crafts) that came from their ancestral home. The Local Ireland website was supposed to mediate this relationship (and it remained a great source of information about places in Ireland until the site was closed down recently).
Braun has an interesting story to tell. He has done lots of great work promoting open-source application software and operating systems for Irish companies. Very impressive stuff.