Steve has put up an MP3 of my boards.ie interview on Anna Livia FM, and for those who can’t be bothered downloading and listening, here’s the transcript.
Joanna: Now, we’re just gonna have a quick chat with John Breslin who was one of the founders of boards.ie, which is one of Ireland’s largest discussion boards. Good morning John?
John: Good morning Joanna.
Joanna: How are you?
John: Not too bad now.
Joanna: Good stuff. Em, how did you come up with the… Ah, how did you start Boards?
John: Well, Boards kind of came about from a very small community of, am, computer gamers, that em, I set up in 1998, and basically the idea was that we had this gaming, eh, website, and we wanted to add a discussion forum to it. So we had about 50 members or so at that time…
John: …and, am, it kind of grew from there.
(Edit: I didn’t get to mention how boards.ie Ltd. was set up, but I guess Tom has told that one before.)
Daniel: That’s great, yeah, I believe that it all started from Quake wasn’t it? The actual…
John: Quake, yeah…
John: …the third person shoot-em-up game, so.
Daniel: I remember that game myself, it was a great game, yeah.
John: Many’s the hours I’ve spent on it.
Joanna, Daniel: *laughs*
Daniel: Me included. But eh, I was on your site myself, and I was checking it out, and it really is a great site, I mean you talk about all ranges of everything really, I mean, it seems to be quite a really, really big site, you know.
John: There is quite a diverse range of topics from, you know, there’s forums for everything from David Hasselhoff to…
John: …politics to Irish skateparks to podcasting, you know, whatever you can think of, it’s… It’s pretty much there.
Joanna: All tastes catered for. *laughs*
Joanna: And, em, do you have a lot of members, at the moment?
John: Am, at the moment we have about, I think, 40000 accounts on Boards, so that’s grown from, I think, a community of about 50 people to 40000.
Daniel: That’s a huge amount, I mean.
John: As I was saying recently, like, if you think about 40000 people in the context of Ireland, it’s a big percentage…
Daniel: Oh it is, yeah. It’s huge.
Joanna: It’s a huge percentage, really.
John: …so, if you think of, you know, if you know 100 people, that one of those will be a member of Boards, yeah, it’s a… It’s a big deal.
(Edit: Of course, the statement “100 people, that one of those will be a member of Boards” isn’t entirely true but replace “will” by “could” and it’s a bit more believable!)
Daniel: That’s great, yeah. And have you got any new features that may be coming up, or anything like that, that might be coming onto Boards, or new?
John: Well, we’ve kind of tried to integrate… You know, Boards was always about discussion forums, to start off with…
John: …and we’ve tried to integrate any kind of new discussion features that there are happening at the moment, so blogs are obviously a big thing at moment, and we’ve about 300 or so blogs there now. And the latest thing we’ve added is a “wiki”; I don’t know are you familiar with wikis…
Daniel: I wouldn’t be, no.
John: …yeah, basically it’s an online website where anyone can edit and add content…
Daniel: Okay, yeah.
John: There’s been a huge surge recently in this site called Wikipedia, which is basically an online encyclopedia for the world…
Daniel: Oh, right.
John: …where anyone can add articles on whatever topic you can think of, so we’ve decided to try and integrate that into Boards as well where we have articles on Boards culture and Boards events and so on.
Daniel: Oh, that sounds really interesting, yeah.
Joanna: And I saw that, you know, cause it seems to be quite a tight-knit community that you often have events, em, you know like, you’d go out to the pub or paintballing or…
John: Yeah, I suppose when people think of online communities they think of, sort of, geeky people at home…
John: …you know, not interacting, but we do actually have, every few months, we have what are called the Boards Beers, where a group of maybe 100 or 200 people would actually meet up in a pub…
Daniel: Okay, yeah.
John: …and get to know each other in the real world.
Daniel: Yeah, which is always good! *laughs*
John: It expands people’s circles of friends and… *laughs*
Daniel: Well, definitely, I think it is, and… And how often did you say you do this, was it once a month, or was it…
John: It’s once every two or three months, I’d say. So we have this Boards Beers event. We also have another event called Boardstock, which is basically a music event.
Daniel: Oh right, and when does that go on?
John: Am, that’s about once a year as well.
(Edit: I have no idea when the last Boardstock occurred or if and when another is planned. Why did I mention it? Watch me divert the next question…)
Daniel: Oh right, and is that coming up, or has it passed or…
John: Am, the… I’m not sure when the next one is now, but the Boards Beers, the next event is coming up in November…
Daniel: Okay, excellent.
John: …and it’s usually held in Dublin City.
Joanna: And I see you have a couple of sister sites as well, one for Japan, and New Zealand and the US.
John: Yeah, they’re kind of spin-off sites that I decided to develop, just to, you know, test the waters and see. The boards.jp one is probably the next biggest one, and it’s kind of a site devoted to Japanese culture, like anime and manga and so on…
Daniel: Oh right, yeah.
John: …so that’s quite busy, but it’s mainly, not Japanese people, but perhaps Japanese fans from around the world that are interested in the culture and so on.
Daniel: Yeah, that type of culture, I know, I know myself there’s a huge.. There’s a huge following of that, eh, type of culture, all the cartoons, and…
John: There is, yeah.
Daniel: …that type of culture.
John: In fact, there’s an anime convention coming up in Dublin in, I think its October or November, so.
Daniel: Oh right, and would you know where that festival is or?
John: I’m sorry?
Daniel: Would you know where that event is being held or?
John: Am, it’s being held in, am, in DCU I think.
Daniel: Oh okay, excellent.
John: It’s called “Eirtakon”.
Daniel: Oh right.
Joanna: So if people wanted to know about that they could check out boards.jp…
John: They can check out boards.ie, there’s an anime section there…
Joanna: Oh, right, as well.
John: …and they can get a link to that event from that.
Joanna: Fantastic. Am, well it’s great that we have such, you know, that there is such a nice place for people from Ireland, you know, to chat, and I suppose you’ve got a few people who would be, Irish people living abroad as well…
Joanna: …who would use it to sort of keep up-to-date on what was going on at home.
John: It seems to be a huge part of it are people who are abroad and are trying to keep in contact with the culture at home and what kind of developments are going on, but, you do… You do lose touch: I was just away for the past month in America, and it’s amazing how much you kind of miss on what’s going on that you can’t find out from news sites and so on, you know, small… Even just things like what’s happening on television or whatever, so Boards I think is a great way to keep in contact with all that sort of stuff that you can’t find through the mainstream media.
Daniel: Oh right. I see also on boards.ie that there’s a new phenomenon about, eh… It’s… That it normally involves like, you know, “set my people free”, could you maybe, inform us more on… *laughs*
John: No! *laughs*
Joanna: Is this the “Gathering” cards?
Daniel: Yes, yeah.
John: There is a thing called the Gathering cards, am, which, kind of, they’re based on this “Magic: The Gathering” card system, where you have these kind of playing cards for sort of, I suppose you’d compare them to maybe roleplaying games or something…
Daniel: Oh right, yeah.
John: …and basically when someone says something on Boards that, em, resonates with one of these cards, it’s produced, it’s an image that is produced that kind of, I suppose, captures the feeling of what the person has said.
Daniel: Okay, okay, I understand you now. *laughs*
Joanna: *laughs* It’s sort of the “in-joke”!
John: I thought you were talking about, we’ve actually, our latest forum is a Digital Rights forum, so when you mentioned about setting people free I thought you were talking about something totally different!
Daniel: Oh right, right, yeah. *laughs*
Joanna: Am, thanks very much for talking to us John, I’m sorry that we didn’t have as much, a bit more time, we’re just running a bit short today.
Joanna: Sorry we didn’t have a bit more time to talk to you today, we’re just running a bit short now…
John: No problem.
Joanna: …but thanks for telling us about it and maybe a few more people will join up and become helpful members of the community… *pause* That… We’ve just lost him there. That was John Breslin, who is one of the founders of boards.ie, one of Ireland’s largest discussion board communities.