December 14, 2007
More Smart Folks: Optaros and LocaModa

In my previous post, I wrote about the smart people I met at Communispace out in Watertown. There are a lot of other great companies and bright minds I've been crossing paths with here in the Boston area of late. We were honored, for instance, to have Jim Nail from out at Cymfony join us on our recent panel on Metrics and Measurement at FoE2.

Another guy in attendance who I've been honored to get to know is John Eckman from Optaros. We had a chance to meet John a few weeks before our conference, when he came in for a visit. Eckman had written about Henry Jenkins' appearance at the Forrester Consumer Forum back in October, and he ended up coming in to meet myself and Joshua Green, C3's Research Manager. The conversation ended going on even past the point I had to leave for another appointment.

In short, Optaros consults and finds business solution using Web 2.0 solutions, particularly through "assembling solutions using open source software and open standards," as explained on their site. Turns out that there's plenty in the Optaros philosophy that aligns with C3's interests, particularly in relation to the collective intelligence of users/fans/audiences. Optaros and the Consortium have ended up working on very different ends of the same projects, and I was especially interested in discussing journalism with John. Since Optaros has done some work in the journalism realm, he has developed quite nuanced thinking about the role of journalism online, a topic I'm particularly interested an passionate about.

See John's notes from his attendance at our FoE2 conference here.

Another group that I've been glad to have on my radar of late is LocaModa, a Somerville-based group here in the Boston area which uses mobile technology to create new forms of location-based interaction between businesses and their customers. According to their site, LocaModa believes "that millions of people accustomed to the immediacy and richness of the web will seek the quickest and easiest method of getting information, entertainment and social experiences when they are away from their desktop PC or TV. That immediacy will come via the mobile phone connecting and controlling media on out-of-home networks."

I met with Stephen Randall, the company's founder who previously founded Symbian. Symbian is backed by the U.S.-based Dace Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan (an organization I came to know well back in Kentucky, as they used to have an electrical wiring systems plant next to my hometown), and Mahindra Group in India, for which former C3 manager Parmesh Shahani is a major point of contact.

One thing is certain: Randall has spent a lot of time thinking about his work and this company. We had an enlightening conversation, or rather he was enlightening, while I did a lot of listening. The LocaModa Web site provides plenty of info, but where Stephen is most compelling is in explaining his passion, so look (and listen) here.