#PDX11: The software summit wrapup

So, the software summit happened this evening. Mike Rogoway posted his brief overview here: http://blog.oregonlive.com/siliconforest/2010/12/portland_gathers_software_deve.html. The back of my head, Teyo and Amy are featured on the bottom of the photo 🙂

I livetweeted the event, so tomorrow there’ll be a cavalcade of tweets here: http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/03/twittering-on-2010-12-03/

Big ideas:

  • Portland is about Community. And our competitive advantage is that community.
  • Part of what makes us what we are is the fact that we stick with the same companies over time. What can we do to enable collaboration across company boundaries?
  • We cultivate enduring wealth.

My takeaway from the Q&A was that we’ve got this huge biz/developer divide. We have management talent – but maybe not the big M&A talent that the VC-oriented folks are after. We have loads of developers. We need to make more effort to get those folks connected to one another in a way that makes sense!

We have tons of events that are advertised on calagator.org, and the city is making an effort to make itself a hub (hosting Lunch 2.0, and now this software summit in the City Council Chambers). Overall, I really think the City is doing a great job, and I can’t wait to see what the citizen initiatives come up with.

So if you want to get involved, subscribe to our lists:

http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-announce (announce only!)

Find out more at: http://pdx11.org


Portland Business Journal coverage!
Slides from the City’s presentation
Video from Software Summit

#PDX11: It’s alive!

Alright, PDX11 is alive!

Tonight’s the big software summit! If you didn’t already sign up, it’s going to be live streamed, and I’m sure there will be tons of tweets and blog posts after. PDX11 will have followup information, and announcements related to the next steps each group involved will be taking.

If you want to get a head start — sign up for the mailing lists!

For announcements: http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-announce

For more information about today’s meeting (4:30pm at City Hall!) check out Mike Rogoway’s coverage: Portland wants to transform its software culture into an industry

What else should we have on the site? Want to help make it better? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Looking for a few good OPML files!

We’re looking for a few good OPML files!

Tell us where you go to find information about tech in Portland! I’m interested in software companies, non-profits, developer blogs and culture resources that are relevant to tech businesses. Off the top of my head: Silicon Florist, Mark Rogoway’s blog, BikePortland and Sarah Mirk’s twitter feed all are relevant. Urban Airship, Puppet Labs, Bank Simple, Small Society and Cloud Four are all local businesses and startups I’m keeping an eye on.

And what will I do with your contributions? I’m going to pick the best-of and curate a feed for the pdx11.org site.

Let me know what’s in your feed reader below!

#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 pdx11.org. 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

Thoughts on Grace Hopper

I’ve been at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for the past two days – soaking in the presence of over 2000 women in computing at a sprawling conference here in Atlanta.

The interesting thing about this conference is how much the same it feels to me as any other large conference I attend, and a couple small ways that it is very different. I realized while I was here how I have spent the last few years surrounding myself with accomplished, amazing women like Jen Redman, Leslie Hawthorn, Claire McCabe and Sarah Sharp. What’s funny is that we’re connected by Portland (although Claire is down in Oakland… for now…), and we’re all at Grace Hopper this week. They, among many others, made me feel right at home.

I feel the dislocation of being at a conference comprised 95% (or more) of women. There’s an odd politeness that I’m not used to. There are a lot of people who are in academia or industry who wear suits and use words like ‘leverage’ without irony. There were tons of students – over 900 of them, and an incredible job fair. And I was shocked at the number of people who asked me: What exactly is free and open source software?

As congratulatory as those of us who are “in” the free software world about having essentially won out over proprietary software, there is a huge, mainstream portion of the computing world who are not aware. I’m not saying that a person needs to understand the minutia of license differences, or have even read one. But wow, there is an incredible missed opportunity when a computer science student can graduate without knowing what open source even *is*.

So, congratulations to the women who put the first ever Open Source Track at Grace Hopper together: Jen Redman, Cat Allman, Sandra Covington, Sara Ford, Jenny Han Donnelly, Leslie Hawthorn, Avni Khatri, Stormy Peters, Hilary Pike, and Natalia Vinnik. I was very happy to participate in the “getting started in open source” panel. And many thanks to the NSA for sponsoring the hackathon with Sahana, a very worthy project, and one that I hope is infused with new excitement and contribution from the 200 people who signed up to participate. I hear that we’ll be having a hackathon again next year in Portland — when Grace Hopper comes to our very own city!

CivicIdeas for greater portland meetup May 27th, 6-8pm

From: http://civicapps.org/news/important-upcoming-events-civicapps

CivicApps Ideas scheduled for Thursday, May 27th, at the Portland Building Auditorium is a two-hour discussion of ideas and datasets between data providers and citizens. As a precursor to the CiviCode Day Event, scheduled one week later at Open Source Bridge, this meeting is your chance to initiate the discussion surrounding your project ideas and data needs with others.

Join us -> http://civicideas.eventbrite.com/

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!

PDX tech scene community facilitation

I was just thinking about this today, because I went to Last Thursday on Alberta street on April 29th. (that picture of a cookie is from an awesome vendor at Last Thursday)

I didn’t realize that the vendors there are primarily self-organizing until about two weeks ago. I had always thought there was a central committee (But there is this ning…). But the vendors just show up, set up tents and hang out.

People would probably make more money and not have to work so hard if things were a bit more organized, but they need more of a light form of administrative assistance, rather than a bunch of top-down organizing. Creating a contact point and information hub, making sure there are portapotties, figuring out ways of providing power, and making sure that business owners and locals are (mostly) happy with what is going on would do wonders. And really, it seems like Magnus Johannesson is working toward that.

This is how I feel about tech community facilitation – we should be making incremental, measurable progress in our tech community on goals that most see the value in and in ways that continue to make organizers and participants feel empowered to act on their own.

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.

Space and time to help our neighbors

I wrote the following in response to Mark Lawler’s original post.

Hey Mark,

We’ve never met. I’m not currently on the board of Legion of Tech, but was one of the founding board members.

I currently am chair of the Open Source Bridge conference and am deeply involved in the open source community both in Portland and throughout the world.

It saddens me deeply to read what you’ve written.

As a person who devotes a substantial amount of her time to volunteering in technical communities, and is also a full-time software developer, I know that the volunteers who work on tech events are the life-blood of our community. Without them, and the incredible number of hours they volunteer, we would have no portland tech “scene”, “community” or an environment that new tech companies or startups would consider being part of.

As points of reference around “decay” – Reductive Labs, a VC-funded startup that develops an open source product, moved to Portland *because* of our vibrant, diverse tech scene. Small Society, Raven Zachary’s consultancy, stayed in Portland because he loves it here – and he is a fixture in our community. Urban Airship (VC funded) is made up of Pythonistas and advocates who have been regulars and organizers of user groups like PDX Python and a new-ish Django group. @al3x, a lead developer at Twitter, is moving to Portland from the bay area next month and will be joining Rael Dornfest, who develops the user experience for Twitter. ShopIgniter just got funded and is hiring.

These are just the examples I have off the top of my head – were I to consult the Silicon Florist blog, I’m sure a dozen more would immediately pop out.

When I look at our community, I see productivity, diversity, opportunity and passion. I see acceleration.

Drumming for consolidation seems to me to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what could be done further to best serve the needs of this community. That’s what these volunteers do – they directly serve the needs of the Portland tech community.

Their goal isn’t to be on a national radar – their goal is to be productive citizens, making the place that they live better. It’s great when others notice, but we work for the gratitude of our neighbors and friends, not national recognition.

And, so, when thinking about the fragmentation, I recommend that you consider whether what you are saying and doing is providing a space and time for people to help their neighbors. Because that’s ultimately what matters to us.