Progress, Trust, and Going to the Pub: London Search Social write-up

Thursday 14th January, 2010
The Elgin on Ladbroke Grove

The Elgin, via flickr/Ewan-M

There’s a theory that claims expertise and associated salaries increase more rapidly in cities than they do in the country because physical proximity decreases the cost of sharing ideas (I’m desperately trying to dig up the source amongst the noise; which is either ironic or poetic depending on how you look at it).

The interwebs are a different beast. Proximity doesn’t exist in the same way, perhaps instead becoming a cultural rather than a geographic measure of separation. The cost of spreading an idea on the internet is more related to trust than physical distance.

On the internet, that trust must be earned by expertise and clear communication. In the physical world people behave differently, people tend to trust each other more quickly and be more open when they can look each other in the eye, or buy each other a beer.

[Only on a technology blog would you find a justification this obscure for going to the pub.]

On Tuesday we held this month‘s London Open Source Search Social at The Elgin in Notting Hill. This was the first time we’d used our shiny new Meetup account to organise the event, so it was nice not to have to send out reminders manually (laziness #ftw).

A few notes from the evening for those whose memories are as bad as mine

There’s plenty missing, and some of this may be fictitious.

Bruno from Jobomix talked about his use of Hadoop to detect duplicate job data, leading to a conversation about Pig and Cascade, then other distributed systems like Scala. Ben from OneIS brought up the subject of Duby, a Ruby-like-but-tidier language targeting the JVM, and when prompted gave us an outline of his company’s free-text graph store.

We talked about duplicate detection in various fields, thresholds, and the cost of false positives. We touched on human relevance testing; Richard told us he’d found people generally need to be paid to do it and not for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Joao from the Royal Library of the Netherlands told us how they digitise and index millions of pre-digital documents per month. Ben told us about a method of querying Xapian from Postgres using an SQL JOIN.


Open Source Search Social

Thursday 28th May, 2009

Following on from the undeniably interesting Search/Lucene social in London last month we’re organising another one… this time broadening the scope a little to other OS search projects and related geekery… Solr, Hadoop, Mahout, etc.

We’re meeting up on Monday the 15th of June, at The Pelican pub (nearest tube Westbourne Park).

If you’re working in the search field and fancy an informal chat then come along. Please sign up on Upcoming or drop me a line if you fancy coming along.

Update 28th May, 16:19:- Added Upcoming link


Search / Lucene social meet-up

Monday 6th April, 2009

Having just finished our product launch (apologies for the gratuitous plug) I’ve now got time to worry about more important things, i.e. organising beers.

We’ll be in The Pelican pub just near the Pixsta offices in Notting Hill from 7pm on the 27th of April. If you’re keen to come along and talk about Lucene, or search in general, then please do. There may also be talk of machine learning, computer vision, distributed systems, etc.

All I ask is that you sign up on the Yahoo event page so that I’ve got an idea about numbers (need to book tables, blah blah blah).


Pixsta job specs

Wednesday 15th October, 2008

I’ve just noticed that we now have job specs for the positions we’re looking to fill.

Positions include:

The office is on Portobello Road in west London. We’re playing with some cutting-edge technology, in a positive and enthusiastic environment, so if you’re looking or have any questions then get in touch.


Pixsta hiring developers

Tuesday 30th September, 2008

Just a quick note to say that Pixsta is hiring developers in London. We’re looking for a range of developers, and ideally a QA engineer. I’d like to hear from software superheroes whatever their experience.

The focus of the work is likely to be search and image processing, mostly in Java, so that’d have to be something that you’d be able to run with. You also have to be eligible to work in the UK.

As for us, we’ve got a solid team, in a sector that’s growing quickly. We’ve got loads of exciting projects, which is why we need more people, and have lots of opportunity for creative talent to spread their wings. Get in touch.

Contact me at richard (at) pixsta (dot) com. No agencies please.