Man oh man, those folks over at Open Source Bridge sure are nice. (Not me. The other ones.)
They knew you’d been pretty busy. And you had those things come up. Well and then there was all that work.
Trust me, I know.
March 31 probably snuck up on you. You probably forgot all about the looming Call for Proposals deadline. And the early bird pricing.
But the Open Source Bridge folks, beneficent beings that they are, also knew that you had a great—nay brilliant—presentation on open source dwelling in your soul. One that would bring tears to the eyes of mere mortals. And they knew that having you involved in the discussions in the hacker lounge would happen if and only if you could attend the conference for $175.
An agency model for application development? Would it work? Given the resulting backlog of clients—which is always impressive but especially in this environment—it seemed that it was an idea whose time had come. There was only one small problem: the agency didn’t have a name.
Now, the small team has managed to carve out enough time from client work to name the fledgling agency. Introducing Small Society:
In times of great innovation, cross-disciplined and talented individuals have come together to bring new ideas to life. It is in this spirit that our team has built a company that wants to help change the way people connect with each other and experience the world around them through iPhone OS.
We believe that the iPhone platform represents a major shift in mobility and provides a compelling opportunity for businesses to deliver new products and services, whether native or web-based, to a global audience.
Why did it take so long to come up with a name? Quite frankly, the team has been busy with other pursuits.
Like what? I’m glad you asked. Here are a couple of their recent releases.
iPhorest, while developed prior to the official agency formation, has been released to the App Store. It’s an application that allows users to purchase a virtual tree to grow on their iPhone. Even better? Purchasing and planting a virtual tree results in a real tree being planted, as well. According to the map, though, the so-called Silicon Forest is seriously lagging on the tree planting.
CLIF Bar Save Our Snow app allows users to get check resorts for the latest skiing and snowboarding conditions from their iPhones. But the coolest feature is the most useless one: blowing into the microphone causes the screen to ice over.
The Small Society site is still under development. Until it is complete, raven.me remains the primary resource for information on the agency and its efforts. For more information, you can also follow @smallsociety on Twitter.
Stearns is also currently a Software Architect Contractor at the Public Library of Science and a Principal at The Thomas Eliot Company (a Sole Proprietorship). Previously he was a Software Engineer at Open Source Applications Foundation and a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. Earlier in his career he was a Senior Engineer at Apple.
The Taptu team is growing quickly to support our growth as a business; we now officially have a new team member to our US team. You’ll be reading much more from Jason in the near future, as he covers the perspective of a mobile guy in the American market. Join me in welcoming him to the team!
But more importantly, she’ll be on KGW The Square at 7, tonight. And thanks to the beautiful new Pioneer Square facing studio, that means you can show up with signs and fanfare and whatnot to welcome Heather to Portland.
You know me. I kind of get all excited when the internet famous swing by Portland.
For those of you not aware of Heather’s work, you should be. I’m an unabashed fan. Not only is she an exceptionally talented writer, she’s one of the most refreshingly honest bloggers I’ve ever read—and has been since 2001. So honest, in fact, that it infamously got her canned from her design gig. Now, the term “dooced” means “getting fired from one’s paying gig for blogging about said gig.”
Lucky us. Over the past seven years, dooce has become one of the most prominent professional bloggers. And remains an inspiration to many of us who have aspirations of doing more with our blogs. That’s right. I used “inspiration” and “aspiration” in the same sentence—clearly indicating that I am still aspiring to actually learn how to write.
So if you have a minute, head down to The Square with your dooce signs or swing by Powell’s for her book signing. At the very least, take a few seconds to send @dooce a tweet, welcoming her to the Rose City.
Via Open Source Bridge “We’ll be getting together again this Sunday, March 29, at Ristretto (3808 N Williams) starting at 10am to hack on Open Source Bridge-related code, and work on contacting User Group and university outreach.”
Via Jive “And one of the tougher transitions for me will be saying goodbye to our Chief Marketing Officer, Sam Lawrence, who is leaving Jive at the end of this month. Sam is a great friend and a great marketer. He was an instrumental part of moving this company from a small technology vendor to the category leader – from the initial Clearspace direction to developing creative ways to evangelize this new space.”
Via Strands “Used to be your financial data was sentenced to solitary confinement in many hard to navigate web sites each singing a different tune and sporting a different look. Well, would you care to say ‘No more!’ with us? You can keep all your accounts with other sites and institutions but for your regular ‘Let’s check if any financial Gremlins have been sneaking up on me?’ rituals you now have moneyStrands’ free mobile versions.”
Via strdup “The hackerspace idea is obviously one I’m interested in. I have my own proposal for one, but tailored less of a 24-hour space for random hacking encounters, and more as an un-office to give remote-working people an in-person community of peers.”
Via Jive “Admittedly, it is early and the cynical may dismiss this move as pure marketing or hand waving. But, I’m willing to predict that the skeptics will fall silent over time. The module offerings were strongly pulled by our customers and will have an incredible amount of uptake. Our solution focused Centers strategy was not created on a whiteboard, but from a deep assessment of the way our customers are actually using our products. All we are doing is making their experience easier, cleaner, and more powerful by productizing and packaging our software in a way that provides clear solutions to large business problems.”
Stateside, Beer and Blog features chapters in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana (that’s right, Beer and Blog has secured both the “no daylight savings time” states), Missouri, Nevada, Texas, and, of course, the three locations in Oregon.
Interested in starting a Beer and Blog of your own? (Yes, Omaha, San Francisco, DC, and all of you other spots, I’m looking at you.) Just contact @justinkistner. You’ll get your own space on the Beer and Blog site, a Twitter account, swag, and team support from all of the other chapters.
Yesterday, a number of us celebrated the 14th anniversary of a gift Ward Cunningham gave to the world, the Wiki. So today seemed like an appropriate day to celebrate a new gift that Ward—and his current company AboutUs—have given to the Web community. Something that features some of that same Wiki goodness and yet, brings something new to the table, the AboutUs widget.
What’s the AboutUs widget do? Quite simply, it provides a chunk of dynamically updated information about any Web site referenced in AboutUs to any blog—actually any site for that matter. Or, as the creators of the widget describe it:
Whatever your blogging forte, the widget is a way for you to serve your readers better by providing an unobtrusive introduction to websites you’ve mentioned. The best part is, if you or your readers have ideas for improving this info, editing the AboutUs page updates the widget automatically.
And now, you can use the widget, too. Just go to any AboutUs page and look in the right sidebar for the widget code.
What’s that? The site you want to feature doesn’t have an AboutUs page? It only takes a few seconds to add it. Just add it, provide a short description and some topics, and voila! Widget worthy.
But how did the this little piece of widget magic come about? That, my friends, is an interesting little story. Gather round and let me spin a little tale….
AboutUs Widget: The True Hollywood Portland-collaboration Story
Not so long ago, I was a wee bit frustrated. I wanted to provide additional information on the companies about which I was writing, but I didn’t want to keep repeating the same boilerplate over and over—and I wanted to make sure that it remained as fresh as possible.
What I wanted was something like the CrunchBase widget. Something simple and compact that provided necessary details about the company.
But there were a couple of problems with the CrunchBase widget as far as Silicon Florist was concerned. What were they? I’m glad you asked (because I’m going to tell you anyway).
First, most of the companies I write about aren’t in CrunchBase—and aren’t likely relevant to the majority of the CrunchBase population. Once they reach that level, they’re a bit above my pay grade. Second, an important part of the CrunchBase data set is “funding.” Given that most of the startups I profile are pre-funding side projects or garage gigs, that was a gap. Third, in my experience with CrunchBase—when I tried to edit the content for Vidoop to indicate that it was, in fact, a Portland company not a Tulsa company anymore—the updates weren’t “dynamic.” They required approval. Meaning, that the CrunchBase information could be incorrect for the time that the majority of the folks were reading the posts. Finally, as much as I loved the CrunchBase content, it simply wasn’t homegrown.
So that got me to thinking: maybe I should build a little database and widget of my own? A database that contained relevant details on the companies or projects that I write about. That contained the information I thought was relevant—and that I could edit on a moment’s notice so that it was always fresh.
And after about two seconds of thinking about the time and effort required to build and maintain that kind of resource, I smacked myself for even letting that thought enter my head. Or I noticed some shiny new Silicon Forest startup about which I could write.
Honestly, it’s a bit cloudy.
Besides, if I built it, it would only be available to me. And seriously, how useful is that? That’s right. Not very.
If only, I thought. If only there were some structured database of Web site information that I could access. Some set of data that was always up-to-date, that was easy to embed, and that had access to information on the types of companies and projects I tended to cover.
And if only it existed in the Silicon Forest. A homegrown solution, as it were.
And then, there I was standing at Portland Lunch 2.0. And there was Ward standing there.
And then it hit me.
AboutUs has a structured database of the Web site information I need. AboutUs is always up-to-date—and if it’s not, I can change it. I mean, it’s a wiki, right? And AboutUs has every single Web site ever—and if it doesn’t I could add it in a matter of seconds. Best of all? AboutUs is a homegrown Portland, Oregon, Silicon Forest production.
So, I walked up to Ward and said, “If you’ve got a second, I have an idea….”
And Ward was kind enough to listen. And we talked it through. And it turned out that there was something interesting for AboutUs there, too. It provided another way to distribute the AboutUs content to a variety of providers and a way to get folks back to AboutUs to edit and update their content.
So a few meetings, some note card sketches, and countless hours of coding that fell on someone else’s shoulders besides mine, and we have the first iteration of the AboutUs widget.
I can’t help but take pride in helping this little widget come into being—if only as being one of the sparks of the idea. And I couldn’t be happier to get the chance to work with the amazing AboutUs team—Ward Cunningham, Didip Kerabat, BJ Clark, Vinh Nguyen, and Jon Farr—to bring the idea to fruition.
This is still an early first step. And there’s room to improve. So give the AboutUs widget a shot. Embed it. Test it. Give me or them feedback about what you’d like to see.
We’ve already got some ideas on how we can improve it and what features can be added. But it would be great to hear from you—and to see you adding it to your blogs and Web sites.
At the very least, you’ll find the widgets a regular addition to Silicon Florist blog posts. Hopefully, they provide you with some relevant and meaningful information beyond my usual blather. And if not? You can always change them—unlike my blather.
Concerned you’re going to get bored this spring and summer? Worried you’re not going to have enough geektastic events to keep yourself entertained? Worry no longer, my friend. There are a ton of good tech events just around the corner.
“We have secured Keynote Presenter Rahaf Harfoush, New Media Strategist, Member of Obama’s Social Media Team, & Associate Director of the Global Cooperation Initiative at the World Economic Forum, to present on Thursday, April 23, 2009. We have Scott S. Ballantyne, former VP General Manager, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard kicking off this year’s eMarketing Summit @ InnoTech and we have a Windows 7.0 Sneak Peek session at InnoTech as well.”
“BarCampPortland is an unconference for the Portland tech community, produced BY the Portland tech community. Interesting topics, cool people, great networking opportunities, wifi, and more! Building an active tech community in Portland, Oregon.”
“Explore the future of Web design, user experience and business strategy for three days of mind-melding on what’s new in the digital world. Get a glimpse into the future, along with practical information that you can apply to your Web site, company and career.”
“Connecting developers across projects, languages, and backgrounds. Open Source Bridge is a new conference for developers working with open source technologies and for people interested in learning the open source way.”
Take 6 on Ignite Portland. “If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.”
“The 6th annual Internet Strategy Forum Summit conference is set for July 23 & 24, 2009. Confirmed presenters so far include Forrester Senior Analyst and Web Strategist blogger Jeremiah Owyang and Web Operations Management guru Lisa Welchman.”
“Inverge brings presenters and attendees together from a variety of professions and disciplines to explore changes and opportunities presented by the increasing digitization of media, the democratization of distribution and the proliferation of connectivity into new areas. The big picture is revealed via the unique integration of disciplines at the event. The presentations are high-level, informative and conceptual, pointing the way toward the future and facilitating advanced professional development.”
“LinuxCon is a new annual technical conference that will provide an unmatched collaboration and education space for all matters Linux. LinuxCon will bring together the best and brightest that the Linux community has to offer, including core developers, administrators, end users, community managers and industry experts. In being the conference for “all matters Linux”, LinuxCon will be informative and educational for a wide range of attendees. We will not only bring together all of the best technical talent but the decision makers and industry experts who are involved in the Linux community.”
“The Linux Plumbers Conference was created to bring together the key developers involved in Linux plumbing – the “Linux plumbers” – and give them an opportunity to discuss problems face-to-face, both within subsystems and across subsystems. Participants include invited attendees, speakers selected through an open, competitive review process, and students. Registration is open to the general public as well.”
And that’s not even counting all the awesome non-techie stuff and all the cool weekly events we have going around here. Not to mention the fact that I probably missed some other interesting tech events. Because I have a tendency to do that.
So don’t worry about getting bored, sugar. There will be plenty for you to do.
You know the one. The one that will convince the Treasurer for the State of Oregon that we have a ton of viable startups in the area—startups that deserve access to state managed funds.
While we’ve had a bunch of people take a moment to fill out the form—more than 60 at last count—we’d still like to see some more.
What’s more important is that I still don’t see your idea on there. Yes, you. Procrastinator. You know who you are. Don’t make me call you out.
Even if you don’t want, need, or like the idea of the money, it’s still important to make your voice heard. Why? So that the powers that be in Oregon understand what we’ve got going here. Because it’s something special. And it deserves their support.
Remember, geeky or not. Codified or not. Oregon-based or willing to become Oregon-based. Come one, come all.
I’m not putting any deadlines on this, but I’ll likely be pulling the form down within the next few days.
Don’t make me beg—or continue to whine. It’s not pretty. Fill out the form.
Via Open Source Bridge “When we had the opportunity to build Open Source Bridge, one of our primary concerns was that we had plenty of space for hacking. But we weren’t thinking a couch in the hall or a bunch of people crammed around the table. And we wanted our attendees to have something better than a desperate search for places with outlets, wifi, and space to code at 3:45 AM. We were thinking about dedicated space for hacking, 24-hours a day.”
Via Beer and Blog “Last time I wrote, I said that March would focus on social skillz. Well it’s still March, so get out your party hat and floss your teeth. Yes, now that we’ve walloped bloglessness and joblessness, this Friday we’ll be putting an End to Awkwardness!*”
Via Clicky “Go to your Spy page, then click the “test the mega spy beta” link to check it out. It still has some issues and is not yet feature complete, but we’ve drastically increased the performance since the original beta was released on Friday. It now runs very fast on all browsers, including MSIE. This will also really help you out if you have a slow computer.”
Via OTBC “In spite of the difficult economy, Ontier CEO Sebastian Rapport recently closed an investment round, launched a product, and added tech heavy-weights Paul Gulick and Les Fahey to the Ontier Board. At this lunch program, Sebastian will talk about Ontier, share some lessons learned, and give attendees a peek at Ontier’s Pixetell™ product, which provides ‘The Power of In-Person Interaction and the Convenience of Email.’ Join us to hear about this local success story in the making!”
Mike Rogoway writes “Portland-based Ontier, which makes online communications tools, is donating 250,000 stock options to the Entrepreneurs Foundation of the Northwest. A fifth of the donation comes from investor and board member Les Fahey and Ontier CEO Sebastian Rapport.”
Marshall Kirkpatrick writes “Every time a person learns that they can edit the content on a web page, view the history of edits by other people and become a part of that history as their edits become subject to further editing – that’s a life-changing experience. 14 years and a whirlwind of innovation later, wiki is still probably the best example of collaboration on this social technology we call the web. So thanks, Ward, for inventing the wiki. The world is a much better place for it.”