Monthly Archives: August 2008

Google Reader explained in Plain English

As a fan of the Common Craft website which explains tricky Web 2.0 concepts such as Twitter and Web 2.0 itself, I was pleased to see that their latest video covers Google Reader.

I have been using Google Reader for several years now as my RSS feed aggregator of choice, and although I am aware it has lots of competitors such as Bloglines and it works for me.

Deer in my garden

I like to think I live in something of a rural idyll, despite being less than forty five minutes from central London by train. And over the years I have been fortunate to see plenty of wildlife stray into my garden, including rabbits, squirrels, woodpeckers, pheasants and even a grass snake.

However, for the last two nights I have been surprised to spot a trio of deer (a mother and two youngsters) in my garden, just feet from my window. Tonight I managed to take a snapshot through the rain with my mobile camera (hence the grainy quality).

I’m just beginning to worry that if they become too settled, they may decide to start eating my vegetable patch.

City Information Group visits the Business & IP Centre

In what might be considered something of a busman’s holiday, last night we hosted a visit from the City Information Group. The fifty or so information professionals who came along seemed to be suitably impressed by both our Treasures Gallery and of course the Business and IP Centre itself.

The organiser Jill Fenton has written a nice note in her blog.

Katy Crosse came with a group from TFPL (the Recruitment, Consultancy and Training company), and put a short write-up on their blog.

Apparently the list of attendees was oversubscribed so we may do it again.

Business & IP Centre on the Richard and Judy Show

I know the Business & IP Centre has had a lot of good press coverage since it opened in March 2006. We even had a full page story in the Financial Times and appeared on Working Lunch on BBC2. However, I was very surprised to hear on returning from holiday last week that we would be appearing on Richard and Judy on Channel 4.

In the studio with Richard and Judy

Mark Sheahan (our inventor in residence) and Maurice Collins

The media interest (including a double page spread in the Daily Mail and an interview on the BBC Radio Today Programme) has been caused by our Weird and Wonderful small display currently in the Centre. It consists of over 50 ingenious gadgets, from a two handled self-pouring teapot (1886) to a clockwork burglar alarm (1852).

I first met Maurice Collins, the owner of this amazing collection, at the The British International Innovation & Technology Conference and Exhibition at Alexandra Palace, last October. He is also involved in the Prime Thinkers service for inventors and entrepreneurs I mentioned at the time.

Although we hoped the small display would be of interest to visitors to the British Library, the press interest has taken everyone by surprise.

The ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome

Since joining the British Library in 2006 I have been fortunate enough to meet many inventors. A frequent complaint is about the negativity they come across when trying to promote or sell their invention or idea. This usually stems from a ‘not invented here’ syndrome, and is very frustrating for inventors. The implication is that only a specialist working in a particular area is ‘allowed’ to come up with new ideas in that sector.

I had a client suffering from this syndrome last week, in this instance the resistance came from the shoe trade. Her experience reminded me of the story of my cousin’s invention.

He was a window cleaner and was frustrated by the difficulty in finding his clients locations using local map finding systems. In typical inventor fashion he spent some time thinking of a better way, and came up with “a method of specifying a location on a surface”. As with all the best ideas, it was very simple, and consisted of dividing the map page into 9 sections, in a 3 by 3 grid. This concept was repeated to give up to three levels of accuracy.

Unfortunately, despite having a patent application and a knowledgeable colleague, none of the map producers approached were prepared to take his idea seriously.

Given the cost of maintaining a patent over it’s 20 year lifespan he was forced to let it lapse, which means anyone can now apply the idea.