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Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Global Tech Hub

Writing.ie | Magazine | General Interest
Silicon Docks Final.indd

By Pamela Newenham

The idea of being a published author has always appealed to me. It also adds a feather to your cap as a journalist. There was just one problem – time. I had no time to write a book. Even if I did, I had no publisher. I also only had a very rough idea.

Over the course of a few months, I voiced my desire to write a tech book to work colleagues. They had heard it all before. A few years previously I was gung ho about writing a book on cakes. Needless to say, it never made it to the shelves. Turns out I like baking cakes more than writing about them!

That all changed last year, when one of my workmates was asked by Liberties Press to write a book about the rise of the Dublin Docklands, particularly Grand Canal Dock. She wasn’t interested but recommended me.

The book would detail the redevelopment of the docklands, the arrival of companies such as Google and Facebook, how a tech ecosystem developed, and what the future is likely to hold for the area of Dublin that has become known as Silicon Docks.

The book would have to be completed in a very short time frame, but luckily for me, it could be a multi-author book. That way, I could keep my day-job, taking a few weeks off as the book neared completion to focus on it fully.

Pamela NewenhamThere’s not a lot of money to be made in publishing. Unless you write a book like Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey, you will probably never make millions. I worried it might be hard finding contributors willing to work for very little pay. I was wrong. Turns out the other journalists, like me, were happy to do it for the experience and to add it to their CV.

Before long I had Joanna Roberts, Elaine Burke, JJ Worrall, Philip Connolly, Emmet Ryan and Ciara O’Brien on board. Ciara was the last to join as she was heavily pregnant at the time and unsure she would be able to juggle writing a chapter with a newborn baby. It was an impressive feat, but she pulled it off.

The other contributors and I quickly discovered the development of Dublin as a tech hub is not an easy story to tell. The reason is down to the sheer volume of tech companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups in Ireland.

Even focussing on Dublin, and then a tiny section of Dublin was difficult. The book could only be so long so how would we fit everyone in? The simple answer is we couldn’t. There are many tech companies that were worthy of a mention that didn’t get one. There were also entrepreneurs and people in business whose full story couldn’t be told. They might have been worthy of several pages in the book, but only got several paragraphs.

A decision was taken to focus on the bigger, well-known “anchors” of Silicon Docks, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. We would also look at the influence of state agencies like the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, and how conferences such as the Web Summit cemented Dublin’s reputation as a tech hub.

The aim would be to tell the story of how Grand Canal Dock changed from a thriving port to industrial wasteland, before being redeveloped into a tech hub. However, the book wouldn’t be 100 per cent confined to the Grand Canal Dock area. It would also look at the impact of the tech companies on wider Dublin and Ireland, as well as the arrival of multinational tech firms to other parts of the country. The last part would be the hardest as some of the companies arrived in the fifties and sixties, and others in the eighties. It would be difficult finding out stories from their arrival, either by tracking down the first employees or local newspaper articles from the time.

The main challenges of being an editor of a multi-author book would be ensuring everyone got their chapters in on time, and editing it so it flows well. I didn’t want the book to be heavy going. I wanted it to appeal to the everyday reader, as well as people with an interest in technology. I had to tread a fine line between detailed information for techies who would be our main target market, and the explanation of tech words. The ordinary reader might not know what “Series D funding” means, but entrepreneurs and tech workers would. We would have to explain terms without dumbing them down too much.

As the book is all about tech firms, start-ups and technology conferences such as the Web Summit, it will be interesting to see if the majority of our readers opt for the paperback or eBook version!

(c) Pamela Newenham

Pamela Newenham is the editor of Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Global Tech Hub. The book is published by Liberties Press in paperback and as an eBook. Pick up your copy online here.

About Silicon Docks

What was once a symbol of industrial decline, Dublin’s docklands has become the single most potent symbol of Ireland’s economic recovery. Edited by Pamela Newenham, Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Global Tech Hub chronicles the rapid development of Dublin’s docklands, from an area of industrial wasteland to what is now one of the most dynamic technology and business hubs in Europe.

Over the past fifteen years, many of the world’s biggest technology firms have opened offices in Dublin. But just how did the Irish government convince the likes of Google, Twitter and LinkedIn to set up bases in Dublin?

In Silicon Docks, a team of Irish journalists tell the inside story of how Dublin’s decaying docklands were transformed into a hub for tech companies wanting to expand into Europe, and how attracting such firms helped kick-start Ireland’s very own entrepreneurial boom.

About the Authors

Pamela Newenham is an award-winning business journalist with The Irish Times, specialising in the areas of technology, innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship. She was named Technology Reporter of the Year 2014 at the Smurfit School Business Journalist Awards. She has previously written for the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Food & Wine magazine and NUI Maynooth’s ReSearch magazine among other publications.

Elaine Burke is a journalist with Silicon Republic covering new media, gadgets, start-ups and tech careers news. She previously edited Maternity magazine and was also named Tech Writer of the Year at the inaugural Journalism and Media Awards.

Emmet Ryan is a technology journalist with The Sunday Business Post and editor of Action81.com and BallinEurope.com. He is a previous winner in the Journalist category of the Irish Internet Association’s Net Visionary Awards.

Philip Connolly is business journalist with The Sunday Business Post, specialising in covering technology and start-ups. He previously worked for The Sunday Times as a news reporter.

Joanna Roberts is a freelance journalist and copywriter, who specialises in writing about business and work issues. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Sunday Times, Women Mean Business and Irish Tatler.

JJ Worrall is a freelance technology journalist writing for The Irish Times, The Sunday Business Post, TechPro and ComputerScope.  He previously worked as an online editor for Yahoo!

Ciara O’Brien is a business and technology journalist with The Irish Times and has previously worked for The Sunday Business Post and Business Plus.

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