Up the ZIL LANE to the Beach Volleyball changing rooms with BONG!

Our social-webpreneur columnist gets his OLYMPIC on


¡Bong! "Young workers, peasants and soldiers learn while they work, and so adequate attention should also be paid to their work and study as well as to their recreation, rest and sleep"

- Mao Tse Tung: 'The Youth League In Its Work Must Take The Characteristics of Youth Into Consideration'; a talk on receiving the Presidium of the Second National Congress of the New Democratic Youth League of China, 1953.

Greetings, pilgrims!

The Bong has been so busy revolutionising the media behind the scenes I have had no time to blog for you here at The Registry. [Yet we bear the trial with a becoming fortitude - Ed.] Earlier this year I was called up by my old pal Luke Bozier to act in the capacity of Unofficial Imagineer, for his incredible new concept Menschn. So, well done to everyone involved for a spectacularly successful launch: especially Jamon, the 9 year old software engineer Luke had hired.

(Thanks to the Coding-in-Schools network for coming up trumps, there).

When the site went live it got some unjustified carping from the usual Old Economy analog dinosaurs. I was disappointed to learn that what people objected to was actually one of my most brilliant conceptualisations.

One of our design goals for Menschn is to create a microblogging community platform where trust is enforced through an architecture of non-hierarchical radical transparency. Everyone can see what every one else is doing. As the office slogan says at Menschn HQ: "We're all naked before Luke and Louise".

That's why I insisted that the first Menschn members must send their passwords in the clear, rather than over an encrypted "https connection" - whatever that is. There are no elites here on the frontier of microblogging. Well, apart from Luke and Lou, obviously.

But not everyone shares the same ambitious goals for the community, so as a gesture to the paranoid pantswetters, down came the shutters. A real shame, I think. Still, if you look at Menschn today, and some of the amazing discussions taking place you'll see why Twitter should be getting seriously worried. I'm learning so much every day!

(Owing to the spectacular short-sightedness of the Spanish authorities, Jamon is no longer with us.)

Brand safe: Bong safe

The other intensive Imagineering Mission for Bong Ventures that I can't talk about has been, of course, the social London Olympics 2012. In many ways the Olympics are a microcosm of the East London digital vision for Britain that Number Ten wants to create: a brand-safe sustainable village completely unshackled from conventional profit-loss accounting or cost-benefit analysis.

Having conceptualised, with Rohan, the Prime Minister's hugely successful iPad Dashboard app, the Bongster was naturally the go-to guy for LOCOG. In return for a VIP access-all-areas pass to the beach volleyball, I was simply unable to turn down the offer; and - purely coincidentally - benefit from several years of no-fail investments for my innovative startups thanks to the far-sighted taxpayer.

As you know, it's vital that the supporters of the games feel they can venture into East London and not have their Boris bikes and iPhones nicked, or their brand equity damaged in any way. I have huge respect for the biggest investors in these social games, Coca Cola and McDonalds in particular. They're not just great companies, they're social platforms in their own right.

So Bong Ventures has helped develop several integrated connected solutions to protect the vital investments made by the Games corporate sponsors. One is Trademarkr, an iPad app that automatically identifies sponsor brand trademark violations takes appropriate action. Simply by pointing the iPad at a suspected breach of the strict-but-necessary guidelines, the wheels of justice are set in motion - seamlessly and wirelessly.

By the start of June, we'd enabled Mobile Community Moderators (as they're called) with Bong-powered iPads so they could zap a violator within seconds. How does it work? With just one click, the shutters come down, the power goes off (helpfully detaining the brand violator for further participation) and within minutes an Olympic drone drops a disabling 1,000lbs of soot on the premises. It's completey automated, and takes full advantage of the iPad's Retina Display.

It's true, we've had a few false positives. Dalston has completely disappeared for the past 12 hours, for example. But it's still in beta, remember.

In East London, the Olympic VIPs have special lanes on the roads just for their official cars - like the "Zil lanes" for Soviet commissars - a way of recognising the importance of their contribution. Let's make the UK economy one big Zil Lane for our biggest, boldest internet enterpreneurs!

Bong Out. ®

Steve Bong is the founder of Bong Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator focussing on innovative new technology startups based in Shoreditch, London. He enjoys parties, foreign travel, Open Data, hardcore coding and draws his inspiration from Ayn Rand and the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He advises No.10 policy guru Rahul Sativa on mindfulness and innovation, and Mark Zuckerberg on the Perfect IPO.


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