This year is so nuts for having conferences in Portland, OR

UPDATED! Just added Open Gov West! Rearranged, and just listing these all in order now. And added #140Conf in Vancouver, WA. It’s close enough. :) And just added Digital Journalism Portland.

For real.

This summer belongs to the nerds, geeks and hackers. I can’t believe that Portland’s tech scene got no love from Portlandia this year. Thank heavens they got a second season!

I did some research, and found TWENTY distinct conferences happening from now through November in the Portland area.

Anyway, there’s a sweet new service that you might not have heard of called Lanyrd, and a quick search over there revealed 20 conferences.

And over the next few days, several people suggested a few more:

  1. Agile Open Northwest 2011, 8-9 February 2011
  2. SearchFest 2011, 23rd February 2011
  3. Python Software Foundation Sprint, Feb 26th
  4. PDX11 Civic Hacking Unconference, April 1-2, 2011 (Plans are coming together now.. so pencil it in!)
  5. Innotech, April 21, 2011
  6. TEDxPortland, April 30, 2011
  7. JSConf US 2011, 2nd–3rd May 2011 (Rumors of crazy fun abound for this, also a party open to the public. Epic!)
  8. NodeConf 2011, 5th May 2011
  9. Open Gov West, 13-14 May 2011
  10. Digital Journalism Portland, 14th May 2011
  11. #140Conf Northwest, 19th May 2011
  12. WebVisions 2011, 25th–27th May 2011
  13. World Domination Summit, 4th–5th June 2011
  14. HotStorage ’11, 14th June 2011 (Third workshop on hot topics in storage!)
  15. USENIX ATC ’11, 15th–17th June 2011 (USENIX’s annual technical conference)
  16. WebApps ’11, 15th–16th June 2011 (Second annual conference from USENIX on webapps!)
  17. Open Source Bridge 2011, 21st–24th June 2011 (Third year! CFP still open!)
  18. IndieWebCamp, 25th–26th June 2011
  19. OSCON 2011, 25th–29th July 2011 (Back in Portland, Again! And @gorthx is on the committee!)
  20. Community Leadership Summit 2011, 23rd–24th July 2011
  21. Vida Vegan Blog Conference, 26th–28th August 2011 (Blogger conference for vegans! Crazy!)
  22. DjangoCon US 2011, 6th–8th September 2011 (Organizer recently relocated to Portland!)
  23. Pacific NW Drupal Summit, October 14-16, 2011
  24. SPLASH 2011, 22nd–27th October 2011
  25. Onward! 2011, 22nd–27th October 2011 (@al3x is on the committee for this!)
  26. Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011, 9th–12th November 2011

Sources: Lanyrd, Plancast, Calagator and the comments.

What other geekery did I miss? Let me know in the comments.


Here are the conferences without dates:

Event organizers: spaces to have tech events or conferences in Portland

I’ve been asked more than a couple times about places to have events in Portland.

When you google for ‘event spaces portland, or’ you don’t get anything that I’d call useful.

So here’s the list that I’ve compiled:

East Side:

West Side:

Checklist for new event organizers: how to schedule and get people there

I was talking with @schmichael today and he brought up that it was insane how many different organizing tools are out there, and there’s no handy list of tools for new event organizers to use!

So, here’s my list of helpful tools if you’re trying to run an ongoing tech event:

  • Put your event on a calendar like This may be pretty Portland specific, but if there’s an event calendar in your area, be sure to put your event on it! Calagator is great also because it shows you a list of venues – possible places for you to hold events. When you need space, its likely best to ask other event organizers. In Portland, we have a special list for event organizers. Get in touch if you are an event organizer, and not already on it!
  • Create a meeting event on something like So many groups still use this. Several PostgreSQL groups do, and PDX Lean Startup Circle swears by it. There’s also, but we don’t seem to use that as much
  • Create a google group! Mailing lists are still the best way to keep in touch with people. All the research on electronic communication says this. Tweeting is not enough!
  • Don’t put tons of interested people on CC or personally-managed Outlook lists. This is spam, and the people on the CC list can never unsubscribe! It’s not just annoying, it is rude.
  • Make a twitter account for your group! Twitter is a great way for the always-connected crowd to stay on top of what you’re up to. Easy to search, and quick to post. Try out Cotweet if you have more than one organizer!
  • Tell other event organizers about your event. They likely know other individuals and groups that would be interested and can use their best judgement in passing an email or tweet along. Don’t spam a bunch of unrelated groups!
  • Make an event announcement 2 weeks, 1 week the day-before and day-of your event.
  • Include the following in your announcement: event name, date, time, speaker name(s), talk title and location including zip code of your event (so people can use maps to find you easily!)

What else do you think an event organizer should have in their checklist?

#PDX11: Turning things up a notch for Portland’s “software cluster”

So, last night a few Portland tech community folks got together at a bar and talked about the upcoming software industry summit on November 18th. You haven’t heard about it? Well, here’s the lowdown:

Mayor Adams, the Software Association of Oregon and the Portland Development Commission cordially invites you to participate in the development of a key software cluster strategy for the Oregon/SW Washington region. By attending this informative meeting you will play an instrumental part in the process with other top business community leaders.

The deal is: you show up, you get to help direct the resources dedicated to software industry development from the Portland Development Commission, the Mayor’s office and the Software Association of Oregon. That’s pretty much it. The people who go to this meeting are the folks who will be directing the future of the PDC’s “Portland Software Mandate”, which is part of that whole industry “cluster” initiative that targets active outware, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and software. More broadly, this is part of the 5-year plan to guide Portland’s economic growth.

Anyway, you really should attend this meeting next Thursday. If you can’t attend, see if you can get someone you know or a friend to attend on your behalf. We want to pack city hall.

That’s right — we’re meeting in the City Council Chambers. It’ll be great. Please attend! It starts at 4:30pm and goes to 6:30pm. And, if you show up we can lead you over to a sweet afterparty. Seriously. It’s gonna be awesome.

But — back to the PDX11 thing. One thing we talked about during the meeting was that we’re having problems communicating to everyone what it is that we’re doing with this whole “portland/pdx software cluster strategy”. It’s a mouthful to say that, and once you take another step and try to describe who is involved and why, things get muddy.

What if we just made a hashtag for it? What if we created a community site to start hacking on our city’s approach to software industry? To have public conversations about what’s next, and to bring to the table all aspects of development: education, small businesses, big businesses, hobbyists, investors and an epic number of volunteers.

Our first stab at this is to create There’s nothing there yet (sorry, just bought the domain name), so this is your opportunity to help create this thing.

Last night, as we tried to come up with a concise name for what we were talking about, people started to giggle, and laugh at “turn it up to 11″ jokes. Next year is 2011, so this thing has an expiration date (deadlines – my favorite procrastination ending technique). Because really, we’re kicking off this thing and wanting to deliver in 2011 on some initiatives. Which if you’re not aware are:

  • Creating a Knowledge Network to support local user groups – group convened by Warren Harrison of PSU
  • Developing a business mentorship network – group convened by SAO’s Matt Nees
  • Enhancing a financing network – group convened by Gerald Baugh of the PDC

These conveners are here to be project managers in the best sense — to find out what it is that *you* want to have happen, and then to communicate, document and follow up with public and private partners who are *making* these initiatives happen.

But back to PDX11. We wanted a name, a brand, something that made it easier for us to talk about with and recruit people inside the community, a connection point for locals, and a launchpad for outsiders to check us out.

If you’re up for helping to build the site, contact me directly (selenamarie -at- gmail -dot- com) and we’ll get going.

Otherwise, we’ll see you next thursday!


For those not familiar with the PDC surveys, here are links to the results in SlideRocket format (meh):

Survey 1 Results
Survey 2 Results

CouchCamp 2010: yay!

Max in a tree! Talking about GeoCouch

I was at CouchCamp last week out at the Walker Creek Ranch – a bit disconnected (no cel service, and spotty internet), but fully immersed in the CouchDB community.

I was there to give a talk on MVCC in PostgreSQL. I forgot to mention it during my talk, but it was a fitting topic given that I first talked with JChris after a talk he gave in Portland, where I basically trolled him about compaction and MVCC in CouchDB. My goal was to show people the benefits of CouchDB’s built-in MVCC, to point out some places where core developers can learn from PostgreSQL and avoid some of the traps we’ve fallen into over the years. I’ve got more to say about the talk some other day, but I wanted to just reflect on CouchCamp for a moment.

One comment a friend made was, “Wow, these people are just so nice!” And it’s true. Every hacker meetup I attend is full of people who are overwhelmingly kind and thoughtful, and CouchCamp was more of the same.

CouchDB is at a critical point in their development – 1.0 is out the door, and developers are already building cool apps on top of it. CouchApps + Evently are an interesting and fun way to get started building things on top of a couch. And replication parties – seriously awesome. Ward Cunningham is rumored to be considering a CouchDB wiki to drive the patterns repository wiki (And here it is! Thanks, Max!), and CouchCamp was overflowing with ideas and implementations (distributed social, a replacement for email, UbuntuOne).

So what did I learn at CouchCamp? I learned how to hack on a CouchApp (Thanks for the help, JChris!). I learned about what Max Ogden is up to, and am so excited for him and the lucky folks that get to work with him. (and he’s running a hack/project night next weekend you should TOTALLY GO TO!)

I heard about the success and tribulations of running CouchDB on the desktop, and the launch of UbuntuOne from Stuart Langridge. During his talk, Stuart brought up the idea of a general replication API – something that I also believe is important to the growth of open source databases and is critical to enabling data freedom. I met a real, live Pick user/admin/developer, and talked about the inability to move to another system but the possibility of interfacing something like CouchDB to it. I got to chat with Rebecca Murphey about Javascript, MVCC and quality booze. I saw bunnies, foxes, deer, raccoons, and tons of bright stars late at night. And, I saw Damien Katz perform a brief interpretive dance.

I also was pointed to a retrospective on Couch 1.0 development by Ted Leung. I don’t know Noah Slater, but wow, what a testimonial. Noah’s comments about why he continues to contribute to CouchDB mirror a recent thread about PostgreSQL contribution — we work on these open source projects because of the incredible community that develops around them.

Thanks, Mikael, JChris, Jan and Damien, and all the CouchDB folks for creating a community that so many people want to contribute and become a part of. I certainly want to be a part of it, and look forward to finding ways of contributing more.

And thanks for bringing us all together in person. From the squirt guns in the welcome bag, to the campfire and sing-alongs, to the very late night Android libc storytelling by Aaron… These are the moments that glue us all together, and make all that work we do to connect up with one another through software completely worth it.

Need reviewers – preparing for the first commitfest for 9.1

Now is the perfect time to get involved in Postgres development!

Starting June 15, we’re going to have a “reviewfest”, as a prelude to the first commitfest in July. We’ve already got 28 patches in the queue, and all need reviewers.

Think you’re not qualified to review patches? Think again!

From the Reviewing a Patch documentation:

If you can apply a patch and you can use the new feature, you’re already qualified to start reviewing it.

We will formally kick off a reviewfest on June 15.

We will assign reviewers and get all the patches that are queued up for 9.1 reviewed while the final touches are being applied to the 9.0 release. Have a look at Review A Patch guidelines for information about how to conduct your review. We also have a mailing list to track and recruit reviewers – pgsql-rrreviewers. (The extra R’s are for ’round-robin’)

Please subscribe to the list, and post if there is a particular patch you are interested in reviewing!

IRC hangouts in Portland, OR


A big part of the thriving tech scene in Portland is made up of IRC channels that many groups and projects use to coordinate real-time activity.

Some of the popular channels can be found at the following locations:



Tell me about others in the comments!

Ada Lovelace Day: Professor Leah Buechley

While in Boston last week for LibrePlanet, I met Professor Leah Buechley.

She doesn’t know I’m going to post this, but I figured that I would just do it, and ask forgiveness later.

What impresses me the most about Leah is her creative thinking about the issues of women in technology – recontextualizing issues of breadth and acceptance to apply to any minority groups. I learned about Leah because of her work to create Lilypad Arduino, a microcontroller designed for wearable DIY projects and textiles. She’s put together a sweet tutorial on using Lilypad, and continues to do research related to creative expression through materials not traditionally considered for computing.

She’s part of the high-low tech group at MIT, a group dedicated to integrating high and low technological materials, processes, and cultures.

A super interesting project she’s working on right now is Living Wall – wallpaper designed out of paper and conductive paint that response to it’s environment. The result is beautiful, functional and a geek’s paradise for making an interactive home.

Some of her research targets the issue of creating new communities by tweaking how the technology is used, focusing and targeting use of technology in a novel way. She did this with lilypad arduino by introducing people who aren’t traditionally microcontroller hackers (sewers, knitters, crafters) to a platform designed for their specific uses. Her ideas and success certainly inspire my free and open source software advocacy.

I was completely inspired in the very small amount of time I spent with her chatting about tech communities and the problems we’re trying to solve around diversity. I loved her directness and curiosity. I’m looking forward to seeing what beautiful and super geeky projects she’ll be working on next.

We need vision and collaboration

This is my final comment in this thread – in reference to a comment that we should to create a mega event like SXSW… (I have more to say about this idea, actually, because a large group of us discussed the possibility in detail, and why we thought it wouldn’t work.)

I don’t know much about how SXSW is structured inside, but I do know that they are providing a a unified vision for the conference. That has attracted not just more organizing power, but a huge, devoted attendee and presenter pool.

Stepping out on a limb – perhaps the issue here is more that a vision has not been offered which attracts the groups that you want to collaborate with. Collaboration is not the same thing as aggregation.

Portland tech groups collaborate with each other all the time, but they are loose affiliations and focused on what provides the most value for the limited resources we have. I’ll also say that they are joyful connections – based on mutual benefit, friendship and an outcome whose goal is not just a product, but also having fun.

We often have conversations with each other about how we can make things less expensive, smaller and more fun, rather than how we can grow larger.

It’s possible to have this mindset exist within a larger framework that might encompass it all. It just takes time, trust building, and work to find connections that truly benefit the community. The direct, local benefit should be considered first, and maybe involve promotion outside of our community second. Maybe third.

The tech community has regular, free-form events on Thursday nights at the Lucky Lab, and periodic meetings on Saturdays around OS Bridge. I won’t be here this week, but definitely will be next week. :)

I’d be happy to talk with you or anyone else how we might create a larger framework.

Whatever it is needs to be something which can be incrementally built up, and I don’t know that a mega event is what we really need.