Month: April 2009

Cooking Up A Story partners with SARE

Cooking up a StoryAs much as I love the startup tech community here in town, I love it even more when I see the community doing things for the greater good. One of those Silicon Forest startups that manages to accomplish this on a regular basis is Portland-based Cooking Up A Story.

What’s the latest? A partnership with the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education organization (SARE):

For those who may not be familiar with SARE, it provides critical funding grants to farmers, researchers, and agricultural educators to promote farming systems that are ecologically sound, and benefit all parties involved, including (of course) the farmers, eaters, and the local communities. Over the course of their 21 year history, they have come to the aid of countless farmers, and have provided the kind of assistance that has helped farmers to survive, sometimes by providing the means and the knowledge to branch into new production and marketing avenues for generating additional income and long-term growth.

The new partnership will help Cooking Up A Story expand their video offering with more stories, more how-to videos, and more profiles of farmers whose practices have benefited from SARE grants and SARE research. What’s more, it will enable Cooking Up A Story to expand their reach to other regions.

For more, see the Cooking Up A Story post on the SARE partnership.


Open Source Bridge Town Hall this Tuesday: Where we’ve been, where we go from here

Open Source BridgeI was originally going to title this post “Open Source Bridge: We’ve only just begun” but I didn’t want you to get that song stuck in your head.

What’s that? Oh. Oopie.

Anyway, the fine folks of Open Source Bridge—the 100% volunteer run open source conference being held in Portland, Oregon, June 17-19—would like to do two things: 1) Bring you up-to-speed on all of the progress they’ve made and 2) Outline the programs, plans, and volunteer opportunities for the next few months.

To make it as interactive as possible, they’re inviting all interested folks to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 7 PM at CubeSpace for a Town Hall discussion:

One of the challenges we’ve recognized in organizing this completely volunteer run conference is that sometimes it is hard to consistently and effectively utilize all of the willing people who have volunteered to help. We are hoping this town hall meeting will make some of this easier with the opportunity to interact face to face.

If you’re interested in volunteering, we hope to see you there. Even if you don’t want to lift a finger for Open Source Bridge, we’d still love to see you there. Or if you’re unable to make it—or simply immune to our charms—please check out the volunteer page or join the discussion groups.

For more information, visit the Open Source Bridge Town Hall on Calagator. To RSVP, visit Upcoming.


Chatting with InnoTech keynote Rahaf Harfoush about Obama’s use of social media

Rahaf Harfoush (c) Jesse Morgan. Used with permissionThis Thursday, Rahaf Harfoush, Associate Director of the Global Cooperation Initiative at the World Economic Forum and part of the Obama campaign‘s social media team, will deliver the keynote for InnoTech, one of the Silicon Forest’s premier business and technology innovation conferences.

The keynote will be a great opportunity to hear Rahaf’s insights into how the Obama campaign embraced social media to affect political change—and will likely cause you to reassess your use of social media. No doubt, her talk will also include an early glimpse of some of the themes she’ll approach in Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand, her upcoming book.

I had the opportunity to send Rahaf a few questions ahead of her arrival, and she was kind enough to take some time to answer. Here’s what we covered:

How did you get started in social media?

I have always loved technology. I guess I inherited it from my dad who is an avid science fiction junkie and technology always seems to represent unlimited potential and opportunity. I’m fascinated by how we use the web to interact and collaborate with each other. I love people and I love information and social media is the perfect combination of the two.

I don’t really remember when I got into social media, but I do remember it was before we called it social media. 😉

What brought you to the Obama campaign?

I was on the research and writing team for Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital, and I was responsible for gathering research on technology, young people and the political process. My research took me to the very talented Chris Hughes, Obama’s Director of Internal Organizing who was designing a social network for the campaign.

I interviewed him and we hit it off. I was really inspired by what they were doing in Chicago and asked Chris if there was anyway that I could help. One thing led to another and I went down to Chicago for the last few months of the campaign as a full time volunteer. It was an awesome, empowering, thrilling experience.

Prior to your efforts, the strongest US online political campaign was championed by supporters of Howard Dean. What, if anything, did you learn from Dean’s efforts that informed the Obama campaign?

I think the Obama campaign heavily refined a lot of the strategies initially pioneered by Dean.

Dean was the first to use social networks (like Meetup) to organize supporters and start building the beginning of an online campaign infrastructure. He was also one of the first to experiment with online donations, particularly small amount donations.

The one main thing the campaign built on was the need for all of that online organizing to translate into offline action. This was where Dean’s campaign faltered, online enthusiasm did not turn into tangible votes or on-the-ground support.

Ultimately, everything the Obama campaign did online reinforced the need for offline organizing. Blog posts, contests, house parties, canvassing events the emphasis was always on getting supporters to get out of their house and into their communities on behalf of Barack.

(Prefacing this with the fact that a bunch of Portland people were essential to the development of the Obama iPhone app… 😉 ) In your opinion, what was the most unique use of social media in the Obama campaign?

Even if I didn’t know that, I would have to say the iPhone application. It was an extremely innovative foray into the yet untapped area of mobility. It effectively turned every iPhone into a fully functional field office. It allowed the campaign to stay connected to supporters in a very intimate way and ensured that they received the most up to date information.

That is very powerful to me. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface on what we can do with mobile.

If I had to pick a favorite social network for Portland, it would be Twitter, hands down. In both your work for the World Economic Forum and your personal life, within which social media site(s) do you find yourself most comfortable/engaged?

Twitter is my favorite too! [Editor: She’s @rahafharfoush.] I love my twitter community and I always find myself going to them for their opinions and advice.

For example, some people at the Forum were interested in identifying some thought leaders in particular industries. I asked my Twitter community and within minutes and over fifteen names of experts that had come recommended by people I trust and respect. You just can’t beat the speed or quality of information.

I am weary of this sudden mainstream appeal of Twitter, particularly those people that focus only on the number of followers. For me, it’s all about meaningful conversations. I’d take that over a big crowd any day!

Finally, a softball. I know you love to travel and explore. Have you been to Portland before? What would you like to experience while you’re in town?

I have never been to Portland before! I heard you have a beautiful waterfront. If the weather cooperates I would love to sit in a nice café with my new kindle and catch up on some reading and relax.

Thanks, again, to Rahaf for taking the time to provide those responses. I’ll be looking forward to seeing her speak on Thursday. If you’d like to join me, please register to attend InnoTech, this Wednesday and Thursday.

(Photo credit: Jesse Morgan. Used with permission.)


SurveyMonkey picks up former Yahoo as new CEO

SurveyMonkeyWithout a doubt, my favorite “they’re a Silicon Forest company?!!?” startup is Portland-based SurveyMonkey, the nearly ubiquitous Web-based survey service. It’s one of those local success stories of which everyone seems to have heard—even though they don’t realize they’re Portland-based.

And while the company keeps a fairly low profile here around town, that may have just gotten a lot more difficult. You see, the former head of Yahoo! Music, Dave Goldberg, has just been named the CEO of SurveyMonkey.

As Kara Swisher reports on All Things D:

SurveyMonkey is the largest such survey company online, with competitors that include Zoomerang and Constant Contact.

The move is an unusual one for Goldberg, whom many expected to join or start an online entertainment or music company, given his background.

With changes like this, the first question that crops up is usually: But will they remain a Portland company?

According to paidContent, it appears so:

Goldberg will be based in Menlo Park, where SurveyMonkey is opening a new office. (Goldberg’s wife Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook.) The company is also holding on to its Portland headquarters, where Ryan and Chris Finley will work.

Hopefully, with someone else on board to help guide the company, Ryan and Chris will finally find some free time to spend with their Portland fans (hint, hint 😉 ).

In related news, Dave is being brought in by Spectrum Equity, which has lead a group of investors in gaining a controlling stake in SurveyMonkey.

Todd MacLean, a Director at Bain Capital Ventures [one of the group of investors in SurveyMonkey] said, “We are extremely excited to partner with Dave Goldberg, a dynamic entrepreneur who we believe is ideally suited to lead the next phase of the company’s growth. We believe our experience with low-touch, viral software models will be an asset in supporting Dave and the team of talented professionals at SurveyMonkey as they grow the business. In addition, we have great affinity and respect for Spectrum, having co-invested with them in the past, and look forward to a great partnership on the Board of SurveyMonkey.”

For more on Dave, see the ReadWriteHire write-up. For more on the company, visit SurveyMonkey.

(Hat tip Adam DuVander)


COLOURlovers and Webby Awards: Third time’s a charm?

Webby AwardsGetting nominated once is an honor. Twice in a row is impressive. But three times in succession? That’s starting to say something.

Such is the case with our own local Deborah Kerr of nominations-without-wins, Portland-based COLOURlovers, which has now been nominated for the third year in a row for Best Community by the Webby Awards.

Third time’s the charm? Wow! It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of such an awesome community. This is the 3rd year in a row we’ve been nominated for Best Community in the Webby Awards (The Oscars of the Internet). First time it was huge validation for our idea… Second time it was proof that the first wasn’t just a fluke… and this time it totally confirms that you all are the best bunch of people on the internet.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Webby Awards? Well, I may be showing my Internet years but suffice it to say that the Webbys are one of the most respected awards for Web types—if you’re into awards. They’re the Oscar of the Web world:

The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

The Academy is an intellectually diverse organization that includes members such as musicians Beck and David Bowie, Internet inventor Vint Cerf, political columnist Arianna Huffington, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, R/GA Founder and Chairman Robert Greenberg, Virgin Atlantic Chairman and Founder Richard Branson, and The Weinstein Company Co-Founder Harvey Weinstein. Members also include writers and editors from publications such as The New York Times, Wired, Details, Fast Company, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, Vibe, and WallPaper. The 12th Annual Webby Awards received nearly 10,000 entries from over 60 countries and all 50 states and generated over 750 million media impressions worldwide.

Now, here’s where you come into the picture: the COLOURlovers nomination is a People’s Voice award. That means that any of us can help COLOURlovers walk away with a win.

So if you like COLOURlovers, now is the time to act. You have until April 30 to vote in the People’s Voice awards.

Who knows? Maybe this year, COLOURlovers will finally walk away with the award they so rightly deserve.

In any case, one thing is for sure: win or not, they’ll remain one of our favorite Silicon Forest Web communities.


TechShop Portland Lunch 2.0 is Wednesday

On Wednesday, April 22, we’re headed back to the ‘burbs, Beaverton to be exact, for a lunch hosted by Denney Cole and TechShop Portland.

What is TechShop? Glad you asked because it may not be what you’re expecting.

TechShop is a 33,000 square foot membership based workshop that provides members with any skill level to  have access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a creative and supportive community of like minded people so you can build the things you have always wanted to make.

TechShop is perfect for inventors, “makers”, hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, crackpots, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.

In short, TechShop is DIY paradise.

I took a brief tour last week, and if you ever had an itch to build something, you should know about TechShop. Amenities include: every metal and wood-working tool you can imagine, kilns and furnaces, a CNC router, a painting space, a tech hardware tinkering space, a robotics course, a textiles area, and more that I can’t recall right now.

If the tool you need isn’t on the list, they might get one, just ask. Don’t know how to use any tools safely? No worries, there’s a safety class.

TechShop is also home to OpenTechSpace, an open lab space for electronics and computer projects that you can use for free. There are also offices for rent and a computer lab, so it’s an incubator of sorts, with a shop attached.

Denney mentioned he might start a wiki for projects completed at the TechShop, which sounds like a fun time.

img_0373.JPGMy personal favorite project is the urban logging one member is doing.

Ever had a tree toppled by a windstorm? Maybe the city comes to cut and chip it or maybe you pay some company to do that. What a giant waste of perfectly good timber.

Urban logging consists of a guy with a tractor and a big log cutting machine who removes these trees, transports them to TechShop, cuts them down, dries them out in a kiln, and leaves them there, much to the delight of the wood-working members.

So. Very. Portland.

Anyway, Denney is giving us a sneak-peak at the TechShop. He’s been taking members for a while, but the official opening isn’t until April 25. You can get a deal on membership until it opens.

So, head out to the ‘burbs if you’re in Portland, or if you’re in the ‘burbs already, swing by TechShop and say hello. If you’re driving, there’s parking in the front, and if that’s full, you can park in the loading dock area.

As always, please make sure you RSVP over on Upcoming so they know how much food to get and drop a comment there if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.

Hope to see you there.

Don’t forget these Lunch 2.0s, coming soon:

If you’re wondering about the WebVisions’ lunch, it will be open to anyone, attending the conference or not. There’s also a rumor that Open Source Bridge may be hosting a lunch before the conference (June 17-19) sometime. Any ideas on venue? Drop a comment.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

Portland types journey south for Social Web Foo Camp #swfoo

Social Web Foo CampA who’s who of the social Web industry is currently camping out at the O’Reilly campus in Sebastapol for Social Web Foo Camp—and a good chunk of them happen to be Portland folks.

What’s that? You know BarCamp but not Foo Camp?

So here’s the deal. To keep it brief, Foo (Friends Of O’Reilly) Camp began as an invite-only unconference that brought leading thinkers together to discuss issues and ideas.

The event started as a joke between Tim O’Reilly and Sara Winge, O’Reilly’s VP of Corporate Communications. Sara had always wanted to run a “foo bar”—an open bar for “Friends of O’Reilly”—at one of O’Reilly’s conferences. That joke morphed into a brainstorm after the dot com bust left O’Reilly with lots of unused office space in its new buildings, creating the opportunity for Foo Camp.

In response, others started BarCamp (because the complement to foo is obviously bar, as in foobar ne fubar), which was an unconference open to anyone.

If you’ve never been to a BarCamp, you’re in luck. BarCamp Portland is only a couple of weeks away.

But back to the Foo. Especially the Social Web Foo.

Right now, a bunch of the regular Portland gang is embroiled in interesting discussions down at O’Reilly. And camping, of course.

Like who? Well, like:

You can keep an eye on the goings-on by watching the tweet stream from attendees on Twitter Search for or Tagalus.


SoMe Awards announces social media finalists for its inaugural ceremony

Social Media AwardsThe SoMe Awards, a new award designed to recognize compelling uses of social media and outstanding campaigns, has announced the finalists for the inaugural SoMe Awards ceremony on April 23.

And the finalists are:

[UPDATE] Whoa whoa whoa. Not so fast. Hold your horses, there’s been a little recount due to some dangling chads. The list of nominees below has been retooled a tad.

Social Media Award changes


Costa Pacific Homes

House Party

Conkling, Fiskum & McCormick
Portland Trailblazers

Next big thing

TwitalyzerWeb Analytics Demystified
Grady Britton
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide – Twendz


Anvil Media John McPhee
LiP Service and Big DealPR

Sugar Daddy

StepChange Group
The New Group
Marcelino Alvarez


GoSeeTell Network
IntelBryan Rhoads
Supporting CharactersCarri Bugbee

On Thursday, April 23, one winner from each group will be selected—based on their “originality, effectiveness and creativity”—as the inaugural recipients of the award.

Cost of attendance is $15 and space is limited. No word on whether the event will be streamed.

For more on the event, visit the SoMe Awards.


Toonlet captures your Twitter comedic genius for posterity

ToonletThere are some pretty witty folks on Twitter. I, for the record, do not happen to be one of them. But they are there. I’m talking about people like former Portlander Simon “@pagecrusher” Goetz. That kind of witty.

And sometimes, magic happens. Tweets—that don’t seem so humorous when taken out of context—combine into a string of entertaining @s of back-and-forth dialogue. The result? Pure comedy gold, my friend.

Unfortunately, those fleeting moments of jocularity used to simply disappear into the ether. Forever lost.

Until now.

Enter the latest feature from our cartoon-errific friends over at Portland-based Toonlet, the Twitter Toonletifier. (In their defense, that’s not actually what they call it. They call it “Twitter Comic.” But I’m calling it the Toonletifier.)

See a Dorthy-Parker-esque series of rapier retorts or a layer-tennis-like volley of banter? Capture it for historical reference.

Simply head over to Toonlet and search for keywords or users. Select the tweets you want to add to your toonlet. Do a little editing magic on the characters. And voila! Instant hilarity.


The feature is still in its early stages, but it’s absolutely stable enough for you to begin banging on it. So give Toonlet Twitter Comic a try.

What’s that? You don’t even have to have anything witty to say. You can still use the Toonletifier. That’s how cool it is. I mean, seriously. It never stops me.


Get your (Twitter) war on* with WebVisions at Beer and Blog Portland

Twitter Wars at Beer and BlogWebVisions—the awesome event that brings some of the best and brightest Web types to Portland every year—is hosting Beer and Blog Portland this week. And like many hosts, they want to do something that makes the event memorable.

So they’re standing up and presenting? Not exactly. They’re hosting Twitter Wars between technology factions. The prize for he or she who dominates all contenders? A free pass to WebVisions.

What are the topics about which the warring factions will argue for dominance? Well, there will be:

Tons and tons of pulse-pounding action. In a giant mud pit. We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge. And all that.

This may actually be the first Beer and Blog where geek blood is spilled.

[UPDATE] With special guest stars Ken Brady and Frank Gruber (maybe).

Beer and Blog with @kenbrady and @frankgruber

Now, I’m fairly confident that I’ve got a good understanding of the topics over which the folks will be fighting. But then I get a little foggy on how the whole “Twitter War” thing works. (Me == Not so bright.) But I’m sure that once I’ve had a beer… Oh wait.

Anyway, it should go something like this:

Each panelist will have one minute to state their case, followed by 3 minutes of free-for-all. People can comment and vote via twitter the entire time.

To Vote: Tweet !v and a comment with the and/or @panelist included. This will vote for a hashtag, panelist, or both. A person can only vote once for a hashtag or panelist, subsequent votes will be ignored, but their comments will be saved. A user can vote separately for a hashtag and a panelist to write a longer comment.

To comment: To comment only, leave out the !v and just tweet your comment with the and/or @panelist included.

Got it? Good. Explain it to me when you get there.

Who will be on the panels? Well, that’s up to you, my crowdsourcey friend:

Nominate yourself or someone else for a panel by tweeting “@TWarsBeerBlog I nominate @username for #Topic.” (But, seriously? Whatever you do, don’t nominate @username for anything. That guy has a temper. I’m just saying.)

What do you win? A free pass to WebVisions is up for grabs for each of the battles. Not feeling battleworthy? Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? Because you also have the chance to attend WebVisions for free by answering one question. And I won’t battle you, at all.
As always or almost always, Beer and Blog will be at the Green Dragon. Hope to see you there (so you can explain the whole Twitter War thing to me). Visit Upcoming to RSVP.

* With apologies to “Get Your War On.”