Dream (digital) destinations

As I tend to travel solo I am prone to taking the ‘busman’s holiday‘ route. I like to tie my holidays in to events or activities not a million miles away from what I do for a day job to give things some structure amongst the sight-seeing and drinking 🙂 It also gives me something fresh to write about and the opportunity to have some human contact beyond chatting to bar flies and asking directions!

Photo Credit: Steven McNeil via Compfight cc

It was my intention to return to Brooklyn this winter for Brooklyn Beta but as I only visited in April I wasn’t 100%. My plans have changed as it is now my intention to go full on long haul and visit New Zealand in February – catching up with one of my best mates but also attending Webstock a conference that has always looked amazing from afar and also trying to arrange a meeting with someone from the NZ Statistics web team as they have a site often held up as an example to us. Obviously I’ll also do my share of Hobbit hunting etc but the trip will have a bit of a geeky spine.

This got me thinking about where else I’d like to attend with a similar mix of tourism and geek (while avoiding the obvious like SXSW and SF/Valley).

The two places that I settle on as dream destinations were pretty different.

Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc

The slightly more obvious one is that I’d love to attend the XOXO Conference in Portland one day and combine it with a visit to Seattle and maybe blag a visit to Amazon HQ somehow 🙂 I love the way XOXO describes itself “independent creators using the Internet to do what they love, and the geeks building the tools that make it possible.” I’ve always wanted to visit the American North West – I have visited a lot of the US now but that area remains unexplored by me.

The other place I’d love to visit is Nairobi! It seems to me that some really interesting things are happening with digital in Africa these days and a lot of it seems to be radiating from a single building in central Nairobi.

Photo Credit: exfordy via Compfight cc

The stuff Ushahidi do around their mapping apps etc and now with their BRCK hardware is amazing. Important work for sure but also genuinely interesting from a geeky point of view. Thanks to the power of the Mozilla global community I am lucky enough to have met Heather Leson, their Director of Community Engagement, a couple of times and one day I’d like to visit her and her colleagues when she is at the Nairobi office.

Funnily enough just down the corridor from the Ushahidi office FrontlineSMS have their local office and former Bristol resident, Delib product manager and viral video star Alex Pitkin is now working there. I met Alex a few times over the years and he gave a talk for me at GovWest last year and his blog has been pretty interesting since he moved over there (especially the post-match interviews!).

It seems like there is loads of other interesting stuff going on there – especially in that kind of open source / civic technology space I find interesting.

I don’t know much about the city or the country really but I’d really like to have a proper visit to Africa at some point after my flying visit to Uganda at the start of the year.

Guess I better start playing the lottery if I want to do all three of these trips on the next couple of years!

[now I’m relying on Flickr metadata for whether these pics are actually of the correct cities!]

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