Thursday, April 06, 2000

The Cyber Scene in London ~ by Maggie Rosen

Brits & Bytes – The CyberScene London – April 6, 2000
"Boobs Just Want To Have Fun"
For weeks I had been hearing that no search for the soul of London’s new media scene could be complete without a visit to ‘Boobnight’ (, the monthly cyber-happening founded by Geoff Inns, Business Development Manager of the ubiquitous Guardian Online (, Jonathan Baron, Sales Manager of MSN and Brian Fitzpatrick, Media Director of MMPT.
“Boob” stands for ‘bring our own booze’ but since confirmation of the URL was elusive, of course no search for something with the word “boob” in it would be complete without a healthy dose of, well, boobs. Suffice to say, until I finally hit the right suffix, I found much to (ahem) Bsupport the theory that pornography is the only ‘business’ on the ‘net that’s attracting critical mass.   
The first person to greet me at the Pool Bar, 104 Curtain Road in gritty-chic Shoreditch (EC2) was Andrew Moore, also of Guardian Online. He introduced me to host Geoff Inns, who explained that in its 1½ year history, Boobnight has never had a sponsor, relying instead on a no-sell approach of being by the cyber-people, for the cyber-people. He made me regret not having been around for the Award Ceremony which took place at Boobnight XVI.  Democratically judged by a committee of 1800, Geoff was nominated – and I believe, won – the award for sexiest male.  (Note to self: ‘pen’ this in calendar for 2000.)
That Boobnight has remained adamantly oriented to the social rather than the professional was borne out by the fact that despite our best efforts, Jules Ruston –UK Manager for design shop Webysm (,  Jennifer Bruni - Management Associate at Citigroup ( and I had a hard time finding anyone willing to discuss business between beers. 
For awhile, I found myself chatting to the excellent DJ, as you do -- Bunny of Klooks Kleek Records, the quintessence of London’s legendary 60-70s rock scene. I finally had my chance to ask him something I’ve been dying to know for years – what those little plastic gizmos that go inside 45’s are called: a) a dingle b) a boggle c) a dongle d) a buggle. Remember - you can phone a friend or ask the audience!
After talking to a mysterious (some say sinister) gentleman from Railtrack  ( whose interest in 1) Boobnight 2) the internet/new media 3) The Pool Bar was indeterminate, I found myself deep in discussion with Kannan Rajalingam, a talent scout for New Age-esque recruitment agency Major Players ( )  who confirmed that he also was just there for the tunes. 
Next we happened upon “Tom”, from Connextra (, which provides a smart ‘internet browsing companion’. I don’t often think of those who shout instructions over my shoulder as ‘companions’ exactly, since I prefer to linger than to browse. Tom was in the midst of explaining that his company has developed smart software to rival competitors like Gurunet and Flyswat –when we were interrupted by a colleague who advised – a bit rudely, I might add - that Tom shouldn’t be talking to me, as I am “The Press” (wow! How exciting!), and that I should contact their PR office. Curses, foiled again!
Perhaps the second most useful thing I learned (next to the fact that the little plastic thing inside a 45 is called, somewhat obscenely,  a ‘dongle’ – there – I’ve given it away*) is that there is a software reported entitled “call manager” that alerts users who are online (via a landline) when a phone call is coming through – and provides a variety of options for diverting the call. Apparently this is unique in the UK, but the dark and handsome stranger – his name MIGHT have been David - who told me about it wouldn’t give any further details…except that his company operates as a joint venture with Redstone Communications…If anyone has further information, I’d be most interested.
Anyway, I left Boobnight at somewhat of a loss for juicy, hard-hitting news and sites to explore. I also didn’t see anyone playing pool – but I’m glad to know that for one night a month, there’s Boobnight, where everyone seems to be taking a break from all {their} worries, and people are all the same.  With apologies to…
*The answer seems to have sparked some debate, so if you do know the answer and can provide its provenance, I’d appreciate it.