So you’ve responded to the surveys. You’ve heard about CivicApps. You’ve seen the City of Portland declare open source in government week. But you still don’t really have a clear idea about where we go from here. Or how the developers here in town fit in with the City’s plans.
Well, get ready for a little clarification. Tonight, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and the City of Portland will be hosting a Software Summit to discuss the economic growth strategy for our industry.
And while the event is overbooked and the chambers and overflow rooms will be, um, overflowing. You can still take part. How? Via the livestream of the event beginning at 5 PM, today. (A recording of the event will be made available by next week.)
What are they hoping to accomplish tonight? Well, after months of research and discussion and thinking, the Portland Development Commission and the City have come up with a starting point for better supporting the software industry here in Portland.
That’s so important, I’m going to repeat it: a starting point. This isn’t the end. This is the beginning. And your involvement is key.
“I would like to see honest feedback and a willingness to collaborate on a few key initiatives,” said Portland Mayor Sam Adams. “We have involved the community from the very start in helping to define the strategy, and before we move into the implementation phase, we need to refine our approach. This process will continue to be iterative and collaborative, and we will need active participation from all corners of the industry.”
Specifically, the meeting will focus on three things. The first is sharing the results of the surveys that the Portland software folks completed. Second, is getting feedback and advice on the initial plan crafted from that survey feedback. Finally, the meeting is designed to kickoff activities in three key areas for the software industry: a business network, a knowledge network, and a finance network—part of which has already begun to take shape with the Portland Seed Fund.
“After this meeting, we plan to be active participants in the implementation phase,” said the mayor. “We will contribute expertise and resources where possible, but this is fundamentally a collaborative effort. I want Portland to be known as a laboratory for innovation. This entire process is an experiment in using an agile approach to achieve economic development goals.
“We want a software industry that is highly networked, and bigger, richer, more sustainable, and more well-known globally than it is today. And I am convinced that, in order to achieve this goal, we must continue to define ourselves by our own unique values.
“We have a lot of positive momentum building in our software community, and we’ve seen some unprecedented collaboration among a variety of groups during the past year or so. This meeting is an opportunity to take that momentum and turn it up to eleven.”
Proponents are lauding these efforts. Dissenters say that this may be an uphill battle. A conversation on Hacker News spawned by Mike Rogoway’s recent article on the Software Summit, for example, drew both cheers and jeers.
Whatever the case or the chances of success, the City should be lauded for continuing the conversation and—perhaps more importantly—continuing to listen to the community. And their efforts to engage and collaborate with the community are reaping positive rewards—for both sides.
I’ll make sure to provide a write up on the event and a round up of blog posts and articles.
For more information and background, visit PDX11. Or see Portland wants to transform its software culture into an industry, Software summit to map industry growth, and PDX11: It’s alive! To get announcements, sign up for the mailing list. And as always, you can follow Portland’s mayor on Twitter at @mayorsamadams.