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.

3 thoughts on We need vision and collaboration

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  1. I second the call for further discussion in person, it seems like a much better medium for the topic. That said I’ll toss in a few thoughts while I have them in my head. First we need to define some definitions, like who is the ‘community’? Are we looking to find a vision that encompasses what is already happening or just what we would like to see happen?

    I think that having something big like SXSW or OSB it’s really easy to lay out the goal for a single event, and then have everyone attach them self to that goal as they see fit. I think that we can do the same for finite slices of the community (get involved in GSoC), but what about the outliers? If we strive too large then we just end up with some pointless vision like ‘learn and have fun doing it’ so that it can apply to all groups.

    The other thing that I think would be fun to discuss would be to see what we can do about bottom-up solutions. Tools like Calagator stitch the idea of a larger community together in an opt-in manner. What other tools would we want to see that would allow the concept of a larger community to congeal? Are there ways we can better use the tools we have at hand (ie should we attempt to standardize a hashtag for all pdx tech related mentions on twitter/identica?).

    I guess in the end it really boils down to the developer in me requesting a spec, I guess thats the exciting part of this is that we have to build the spec first.

  2. I think it’s important to remember that SXSW didn’t start as a technology event. It began as a music event in 1987 and grew slowly and organically over 20+ years, adding film and interactive after tens of thousands were already familiar with the SXSW brand. Following that model to create a technology event doesn’t really make sense. Plus, there are many tech and marketing events that do a much better job of delivering high-level content. The crowd-sourced panels at SXSW tend to be rather rudimentary and very hit or miss in terms of value. SXSW is more about schmoozing and partying than actually learning anything.

    That said, the creative community has been discussing the viability of creating a creative cluster that would develop into a SXSW-style event for several years and actually did that in the past few years during the first two weeks of September with the Portland Creative Conference, PICA’s TBA festival, MusicFest NW, and Inverge (though Inverge didn’t take place in 2009). If you’re really interested in making something like SXSW happen in Portland, you should tap into those communities instead of trying to start from scratch. Start by reaching out to Oregon Creative Industries (http://blog.oregoncreative.org).


  3. Hey Carri,

    Thanks for the comment and insight about the creative events. Sounds awesome, and OCI I’m sure will be very successful.

    I’m most interested in providing intense, collaborative and useful learning opportunities. And I work to enable 1:1 connections between people as much as possible – both by being a connector myself, and by providing space and time for people to connect directly.

    That said, I love parties, the excitement that comes from getting like-minded folks together and want everyone to have fun.

    Personally, I’m not interested in creating another SXSW. That was Mark.

    I love TBA and how so many events spill out into the street. I love Last Thursday in Alberta, and I love Pedalpalooza.

    I’m looking to continue producing collaborative events, where we keep the producer/consumer ratio and overhead low, and participation incredibly high.

    I’m sure that we’ll be talking about this all tonight at @pdxhackathon (Lucky Lab, 7pm)