A funny thing happened on my way to Eastern Europe last week. I sent out a Twitter message saying I was heading to Prague and Berlin and wondered if there were any bloggers or online media people I could meet. I got a reply from Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association (MBA), telling me that Radim Hasalik in Prague wanted to start a branch of the MBA for the Czech Republic. Cox wanted to know if I would meet Hasalik and some bloggers in Prague to tell them more about the MBA. I emailed Hasalik, and we arranged to meet up in Prague. He then invited about 75 local bloggers and tech people via Facebook to join us.
We all met up at a bar/restaurant in Prague on Sunday, November 23, and I used my small Canon Elph SD800 IS to shoot video of the people who showed up. It was an interesting group of 15 folks, many of whom hadn’t met each other before. Most of the conversation was in Czech, so I’m not sure what they were talking about much of the time! I explained the purpose of the MBA, and how it defends bloggers who get hit with frivolous lawsuits. They told me that they didn’t have the same problem in the Czech Republic, because bloggers don’t get sued in the same way, largely due to the very slow court system there. Still, by the end of the night, I had four people tell me they would be interested in joining a Czech branch of the MBA. Hasalik told me later that he will try to start a group like the MBA in Prague, but will try to get a corporate sponsor to pay any possible membership fees.
The next night, I was invited to another Facebook-organized meetup in Prague, this time with web workers at some of the top Czech companies: Seznam.cz (the most popular search engine); Stickfish.cz (technology and IT company); and Jobs.cz (popular job site). This group was even more lively, and I interviewed them about their views on Google — and its slow entry into the Czech market — online privacy and the way a Buddhist runs a technology company, LMC, in Prague. The following is my video report of these two nights of networking that helped me understand the online world in Prague, and the people who populate it.