When the incredible opportunity to help create TechFestNW fell in my lap, I decided to focus first and foremost on building an event that I would want to attend. I got inspiration from a variety of sources: Gnomedex, BIG Omaha, XOXO, Iconoclasts… Long story short, I’m as excited about this show as (hopefully) you are.
And so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of the elements—in no particular order other than when they popped into my head—to which I’m most looking forward.
- Chatting with Portland people—in Portland. Events tend draw out the awesome Portland people who are often overly busy. Unfortunately, these events are often in other towns. Like Austin. Or Boston. Truly looking forward to hanging out with awesome Portland startups and tech types in our hometown. (And in addition to TechFestNW proper, there’s also the TechCrawl and the Sunday hack day which are both open to the public.)
- Connecting awesome dots. I can’t wait to be a fly on the wall while amazing people discuss subjects about which they’re passionate. I’m really looking forward to the discussions with Chris Lindland & D’Wayne Edwards, Jessica Zollman & Asha Dornfest, Alex Baldwin & Alex Bilmes, Kelley Roy & David Frederickson, Ward Cunningham & Nigel Kersten, and Brendan Mulligan & Joe Stump.
- Mixing music and technology. One of our ultimate goals with this event is to get it to mix the creative cultures of music and technology. With musicians attending tech the same way the tech folks attend music at MusicFestNW. That’s why music and tech panels are an important part of the event.
- Seeing our startups grow up. This event is all about fostering the awesome startup community here in town. And the TechCrawl—an opportunity to visit a number of the startups and tech companies who are hiring—is a big part of that. It’s open to the public. And GeekWire is coming into town to host the closing party.
- An interesting vantage on Portland I’m always psyched to get Portland folks up on stage. But sometimes the most interesting Portland viewpoints come from folks who haven’t here day in, day out. Hearing from folks who lived in Portland but have since moved—like Alex Payne and Alan Webber—and folks who have relocated to Portland recently—like Joe Stump and Ryan Carson—provide the kind of “forest for the trees” insights that we sometimes overlook.
- Looking into the future. With speakers like US Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Jackson Gariety, Deena Pierott, and Michelle Rowley, we’ll get a glimpse for what’s next in terms of talent. How are we going to satisfy the demand for developers in our community? Each of these folks will bring a unique viewpoint to answering that question.
- Imgur. ‘Nuff said.
- Creative applications of technology. Portland is all about creativity, craft, and trying new things. That’s why I’m excited to hear from people who are pushing the envelope. Like Tyson Evans of The New York Times who is rethinking how we use technology to consume news and Andy Merkin from Mirada, Guillermo del Toro’s production company, who explores how technology can redefine experiences and the art of storytelling.
- Tying the music and tech sides together with art. Instrument has been an incredible partner for the event. And they’ve volunteered a ton of effort and creativity to form Duet, an interactive exhibit that will feed off the social mentions of MusicFestNW. You can see the installation on the east side of the Burnside Bridge.
- Opening the doors to the community. Much like the TechCrawl, the TFNW hack day on Sunday, September 8, is designed to bring folks from the event together with people from the community. I’ll be posting more details about the day itself but I wanted to share some of the participating companies. This year we have Pearson sharing their APIs into a wealth of content, MailChimp on board with Mandrill, ICANN Labs and the ICANN wiki folks, and a few others. What’s more, we’re partnering with DayOn and WebVisions Hackathon for Social Good to help them with projects for the greater good, as well.
Excited and maybe a little bit emotional about going back to Portland tomorrow for the first time in a year for @tfnw.
— Alex Payne (@al3x) September 4, 2013
There are a ton of other reasons why I’m excited about this. And a whole bunch more amazing speakers. And that’s why we’ve all been pouring a ton of effort into bringing this to life. And we’re so incredibly thankful to those of you who are joining us. And all of the sponsors who have stepped up to help.
There’s so much to say. But I thought I would share those. And not blather on and on.