I’m starting this post on Friday, June 9, from the Dublin Airport, signed in for an hour for 5 Euros, courtesy of Eircom, a telecom certain to raise your ire. They’ve ensured that the most highly educated and prosperous work force in Europe has the worst broadband access. It’s remarkable when a company intentionally withholds product improvements from its best potential customers.
We’ve had a great time in Ireland and are headed home. We met some amazing people and had a chance to hang with Salim Ismail and Shel and Paula Israel. On Wednesday night, there was a blogger dinner at Proby’s Bistro, organized by the redoubtable Damien Mulley.
Yesterday, we only had time for the American portion of the Web 2.0 Half Day Conference, the buzz machine that the Lads from Cork, Tom Raftery and Tim O’Reilly promoted into the bigtime by a round of communications with little outcome except to promote the conference. Tom said that the moment he read the Cease & Desist letter from the O’Reilly/CMP lawyers, he felt grateful to the Buzz Gods.
Everything I assumed about Ireland was wrong. This is the richest, most entrepreneurial and debt-ridden country in the EU, a testimony to the tough times behind them and a single-minded commitment to education and low corporate taxes that they established in the 1970s.
Damien Mulley seems to be a force of nature. By email, he introduced me to Simon McGarr, who in turn introduced me to several top-level staffers at Ireland’s Parliament, which is called the Dail (pr. “Doyle”). Kathy
The WonderBra Economy
Another force of nature is Pat Phelan, a telecom entrepreneur in Cork who gave me a copy of The Pope’s Children, by David McWilliams. As the Amazon UK page implies in its other-books-like-this-links, it’s basically a Bobos in Paradise for the Emerald Isle. McWilliams’ title is inspired by the improbable coincidence that the greatest number of births in Irish history occurred precisely nine months after the Pope’s 1972 visit. McWilliams calls the Irish economic miracle WonderBra Economics because it has concentrated wealth into the middle class and pushed up every demographic’s circumstances, especially the poor and lower middle class.
Pat’s trying to open my eyes to the fact that this country is, relative to Europe, like Silicon Valley was in the ’90s: The place where the money and the most interesting ideas and progress and prosperity is happening.
It’s a fascinating country, people and time in their history. I’ll be back sooner than later.