Feeds

UK taxpayers pay for Silicon Valley bloggers' holiday

Brits pay for Web 2.0 lotus eaters

High performance access to file storage

A group of wealthy Californian bloggers are taking a holiday in the UK this month - and the taxpayer will help foot the bill.

Calling themselves The Traveling Geeks, the bloggers will spend a week here meeting other bloggers. In addition to corporate sponsorship, they're getting a helping hand from NESTA, the lottery-funded innovation quango, and BERR, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Two BERR-funded quangos - Think London and East of England International - are providing public money for the jaunt.

BERR refused to disclose how much it's contributing. Or more accurately, would only tell us if we promised not to publish the figure.

"You'll have to put a FoIA request in for that," said Karyn Barnes of the East of England International Agency.

Paying for holidays is a departure for the business development agency. Part of UK Trade and Investment, it typically sponsors events from visiting businesses seeking to invest in the UK, and visits for UK companies - all laudible wealth-creation. So why pay for a Web 2.0 bloggers' jaunt?

"They are social media creators, and create blogs and podcasts," Barnes told us.

Susie Squires of the Taxpayers Alliance wasn't impressed by the Travelling Geeks, or the argument that they should get public funding.

"It’s an insult to ordinary taxpayers struggling in the recession that their hard-earned cash is being used to pay for holidays. This scheme is of no tangible benefit whatsoever, and no more money must be frittered away in this manner. People pay their tax for good public services and clean, safe streets, not for this sort of nonsense."

"The trip's a junket," is how one of the Traveling Geeks, Susan Mernitt, described last year's holiday in Israel.

Ms Barnes admitted she hadn't seen the Geeks' output from last year's holiday before making the funding decision. Examples of technology coverage are pretty scant, but include this, a profile of "Ayelet Noff, The Social Media Queen".

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is lottery, rather than taxpayer funded, but UK science innovators who need funding will be curious for an explanation. A spokesperson provided us with this statement:

"The ‘Travelling Geeks’ programme will bring together the world’s experts in the fields of digital technologies and social networking for the benefit of the UK. By bringing together a group of pioneers of this calibre, we will help put UK businesses, especially the UKs brightest and most innovative start-ups, at the forefront of digital innovation. Something that will have long term benefits to UK businesses and policy making."

[Our emphasis added]

That's a revealing comment. The two agencies have different ideas of what they're getting. And it shows that NESTA believes (or wants us to believe) that the visiting bloggers are innovators and entrepreneurs, rather than pundits. But apart from Craigslist's Craig Newmark - famed as the nemesis of the newspaper publishing business - it's hard to find a successful business entrepreneur in the group.

Digital innovators like this, says Nesta, will benefit UK businesses and policy-making

The bloggers include Sarah Lacy, author of Once You're Lucky - Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0, Robert Scoble and Renee Blodgett, who blogs about food and public relations. Silicon Valley heiress Meghan Asha (above), who in her bio says she's trying "to put the sexy back into tech". Asha was dubbed by Gawker as a "nontrepreneur", after launching the now-dormant chick site NonSociety, and will be addressing a Nesta conference on the topic of gender.

You can follow their trip here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.