It’s not easy being Irish but the Guinness helps!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And before we head out to drink some green Guinness we thought it’d be good to reflect on where the seventymillion project is just now and more importantly, where it’s headed. Karl and myself started this project, a project to connect the global Irish Diaspora on the Internet, exactly one year ago today. We wondered at the time if there were in fact seventymillion of us and if so, where exactly in the world. Beyond that, we wondered what’s the state of the global Irish Diaspora – is it alive and well? Is Irishness meaningful generations down the line? If it is, in what way is it meaningful beyond beer promotions and green hats on St. Paddy’s? Although we called the project ’seventymillion’, it was always more than about the number, it was about the people.

Seventymillion is then a human project and going forward into year 2 it needs to remain just that is our feeling. It’s been slower going than we thought in the first year – we have a thousand involved in the project now so just sixty-nine odd million to go. But this is a passion driven project – it’s not commercially backed and we’re not politically connected. We’re sure we could increase the numbers if we worked harder but we both have our day jobs. It’s organic, it’s modern, it’s the Internet the way Tim Berners-Lee intended it. We wanted this project to be for the community and to come from the community.

We only say that as today sees the launch of the well financed and well organised by Niall O’Dowd. He arranged for An Taoiseach Brian Cowen to launch the website in NYC. We could never do that. Or at least not yet. (What exactly does it take to get the current Taoiseach to launch your commercial enterprise I wonder, not shares in Anglo Irish Bank I’m certain of that. Never mind.) But that’s not what we want to do anyway. That website is a media project, a business project. (Also and by the way, did you notice how O’Dowd called his website the first online website for the global Irish? Cheeky! We all know who can claim that). O’Dowd’s site is a newspaper online. Which is great, I’ll read it. But it tells us nothing about the seventymillion people calling themselves Irish. The best way to get that is for that seventymillion to tell us themselves.

This Seventymillion project cannot and isn’t supposed to be owner-operated like a regular website. It can’t be an online Department of the Irish Abroad. But it can be a place for Irish people to connect and discuss and upload stuff that’s important to them. So for phase 2 of this project (March 17th, 2009 to March 16th, 2010) no more Karl and myself talking down from on high (not that we ever did), no more generic blogs about Irishness. Karl lives in the UK, he’s going to ‘natter’ or give his view on Irish stuff going on there. I live in the UAE and I’m going to give my view about Irish stuff going on here. It’s somewhat factual but it’s mostly personal. We’ve developed a new word for this, it’s called ‘NATTER’ (a sort of Irish expression, ‘Natter’ is to talk about Irish stuff online – a combination of twitter and chatter if you like, just to bring it online and up-to-date). We’re going to natter more and preach less (again, not that we ever did really).

Please natter with us and everyone else. Find a way to share what’s happening in your part of the world. And talk to as many people as you can about seventymillion so we can get them nattering online too. Good luck. Thanks agus Slainte. Nick

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