Running a Coffeehouse

Yesterday I ran the first, to my knowledge, security coffeehouse. Based on the ideas I’ve taken on from Cafe Scientifique, where years ago I had one of my first public speaking experiences (on the science of cyber security), the security coffeehouse is about bringing people into a conversation on a security-related topic.

I have to admit, the positivity of the response has been a touch overwhelming. I can’t help but feel this has tapped into something that’s needed as much as Cafe Scientifique was. To explain I guess a little background is needed.

The Cafe Scientifique movement was born from the idea that science should be brought into the open and discussed in the public sphere. Somewhat based on the ideas of the Parisian Salons of the 17th and 18th centuries, Cafe Scientifique is about letting people talk on scientific topics that they have researched, and letting an audience engage in the discussion.

The Security Coffeehouse idea is somewhat based off that, with a touch of the London Coffeehouses of the same period (if you’re wondering if they went anywhere, Lloyds came out of one of those coffeehouses). It’s about open discussion of security between people who know or are interested in something about it, and about making that available. Not about it being a peer to peer forum, or a vendor session, or a conference, just giving anyone who’s interested the opportunity to talk about it.

The feedback suggests that there’s a definite appetite for these sorts of events, so I plan to keep running them. Unlike the coffeehouses (or penny universities if you lived in Cambridge at the time), a relaxing drink in the hands of the panellists is strongly encouraged to help encourage the right relaxing atmosphere. I hope I’ll see some of you at one of these in future, whether on the panel or in the audience, going by the inaugural event future ones are going to be good.

Last mention – a huge thank you to the panellists from the first event, you made it possible, and you helped me realise it’s a viable idea.

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