Category: Oregon

Vocal Nation takes political news in slide

Vocal NationI was recently introduced to Portland-based Vocal Nation, a service that is part feed reader, part social political-news system.

Okay, I hear you. Any time the term “social news” is bandied about, the phrase “Digg clone” immediately jumps to mind.

But, let’s not jump there so quickly. I think Vocal Nation has a specific application and some interesting functionality that make it worthy of a second look, and potentially a strong niche showing.

And I’m not alone in that thinking. Kristen Nicole at Mashable, who has reviewed the tool previously, described Vocal Nation this way:

In an effort to differentiate itself from Digg, Digg clones and the Digg voting system all together, Vocal Nation’s new feature helps set it apart in two primary ways: an automated submission process and a sliding scale used for voting.

The “automated submission process” is Vocal Nation’s feed-slurping feature. Point Vocal Nation at an RSS feed and it will consume the details, automatically feeding articles into the voting system. Not only does it make the current set of articles available to the Vocal Nation community for voting, it keeps track of the feed and continues to update Vocal Nation as the feed updates.

As an example, here’s the Silicon Florist on Vocal Nation.

While Vocal Nation can handle any site’s RSS feed, it becomes truly useful when it’s handling news on politics. And, that’s where Vocal Nation’s second voting slider comes into play. With that slider, the service encourages users to provide feedback on each article’s political disposition. Is it conservative? Liberal? Neutral?

And that news arena is where Vocal Nation could really shine. With the number of political blogs in Oregon, alone, Vocal Nation could prove to be a key to navigating the girth of coverage that is sure to overwhelm us until November. And likely after.

When you combine those submission and voting features with its pleasant UI and some subtle AJAX transitions, the Vocal Nation site merits a second look.

For more information or to try the service yourself, visit Vocal Nation.

Guest Editorial: Scott Kveton

[Editor’s note: Continuing the Silicon Florist’s guest editorial series, we welcome Scott Kveton, a well-known force-of-nature in the Portland technology community. And, as you’ll see, the de facto Chamber of Commerce for the Portland startup scene.]
Made in Oregon

Image courtesy Modified Enzyme under Creative Commons

Falling in love with Portland again and again

Last week was amazing. I spent most of it with Luke Sontag here in Portland, meeting with folks, spreading the good word about Vidoop and generally being in the city.

Having grown up in-and-around Portland, it’s always fun to see the reaction to everything-that-is-Portland from someone who doesn’t live here. (Oh, and the weather we had last week didn’t hurt either.)

I got a chance to talk a little bit about this at Ignite Portland 2, but I’ll say it again: This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn. Even more, I think Chris Logan had it right: it’s time for Portland to step up and take its place.

There has been some talk about how “if you don’t live in the Bay Area and you’re in tech, you’re basically a wuss.”

So be it. The very last thing I want is for Portland to turn into the Bay Area or Seattle. I want it to be Portland. I want other cities to be saying “wouldn’t it be great if we were more like Portland?” I simply want Portland to come into its own in tech, in the arts, sustainability, green, etc.

But, how do we get to that point?

Well, it takes a bunch of us, it takes some time and, ironically, the city does most of the work for you.

For the past couple of years, I’ve made it a point to try to help people who are considering a move to Portland. I’ve spent countless days taking people around the city, introducing them to others in the city, and generally trying to give them a “locals’ view” of the city.

Now, the tour I take folks on covers a bit of ground and I’m seeking some input on the route. A couple of places I go to:

  • Tour of SW waterfront area with gondola love
  • Sellwood district (possibly for lunch, definitely for dinner at Saburo’s if it’s a weekday night)
  • SE towards 78th or so … Marshall has been kind enough to meet me more than once at the Bipartisan Cafe… soooo PDX
  • Alberta or Killingsworth… I used to live at Billy Reed’s at the turn of the century and I can’t believe how much it’s all changed since then
  • Pearl District for coffee (Caffe Umbria is amazing) or drinks (the Vault or even the Clyde Commons)
  • NW on 21st or 23rd… just too much to do, to eat, to see

Where would you take a touring visitor to get a taste of Portland from a local’s point-of-view? Bear in mind, I’m not looking for just a tech-person view on this. I’m all about diversity here.

The key to all of this, and the thing that I keep in mind at all times, is serendipity. Yeah, yeah, I know. Hard to quantify, huh? Well, I’m not the cheerleader type unless I really, really believe in it. Portland I can believe in. This city, the people, the places. It’s easy.

If you’re not predisposed to drink the PDX Kool-aid, then you’re probably not the type of person I’d want here anyway. And, if you’ve ended up in my Inbox or with my phone number, odds are, there’s a reason.

I’ll put this out there; if you have a friend or colleague that is thinking about making the move to Portland I’ll offer up my time for coffee or even the full-fledged tour to introduce them to the city and the people I know. It’s just the right thing to do. And, I’d challenge you to do the same.

Again, it’s not about trying to make Portland something it’s not… it’s about embracing serendipity and helping Portland realize its potential.

P.S. – first round is always on me … 🙂

Scott Kveton is a digital identity promoter, open source advocate, and Chairman of the OpenID Foundation. He has worked at Amazon, RuleSpace.com, JanRain, and MyStrands, and founded the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University. He is a regular speaker on the topic of identity and open source. Kveton currently serves as the Vice President of Open Platforms for Vidoop, a company he recently wooed to the Silicon Forest.

Silicon Florist gets some sprucing

While it may not be obvious to those of you reading the feed, the Silicon Florist site has undergone some long-overdue “sprucing up” over the weekend.

Call me crazy, but it seemed like it was time to step away from the slightly tweaked default template. Because quite frankly, gentle reader, you’re worth it.

Obviously, as with all new digs, we’re still working out some of the kinks (like resurrecting the OpenID comment log-in). So your patience is appreciated. As is your feedback. We tried to implement this quickly, over the weekend. And we’ll continue to iron out the rough spots over time.

Before you start lobbing critiques (and I do appreciate the critiques), I’d encourage you to first lob congrats at Justin Kistner of Metafluence, whose Conversation theme for WordPress and design recommendations served as the foundation for the Silicon Florist redesign.

Word around the campfire is that a few other folks are already using the Conversation theme—or are preparing to implement it soon. And, I can see why. I’m still learning my way around it, but I’m really liking it so far.

A heartfelt, “Thank you,” Justin, for offering this theme up for use, sweating through the tweaking over the weekend, adding some incredibly nice features to the blog, and—last but not least—putting up with my nitpicking. I cannot thank you enough.

Hopefully, all of you will like this new direction as much as I do. I mean, I can only read my own stuff so much. So keeping you readers around—and happy—is of utmost importance.

And please, rest assured, that despite the snazzy new look, the writing around here remains fair to middling, as always. 😉

I’m looking forward to your feedback.

So, that’s that. Enough navel gazing. Without further ado, we now return you to your regularly scheduled Silicon Forest startup news, already in progress.

paidContent and mocoNews mobilized by FreeRange

Portland-based FreeRange Communications has announced a partnership with ContentNext Media that will have FreeRange designing and delivering mobile versions of paidContent and mocoNews, currently the 439th and 4,146th most authoritative blogs in the world according to Technorati.

Justifiably classified as “must reads” by FreeRange CEO Jon Maroney, the mobile content for paidContent and mocoNews will be available at http://paid.mwap.at and http://moco.mwap.at, respectively.

Why FreeRange?

“The FreeRange platform gives our readers the latest breaking news with an attractive interface and quick load time,” said Ted Rupp, Director of Business Development at ContentNext. “FreeRange app’s vastly improve the mobile web experience, and provide an excellent outlet for sponsors as well.”

ContentNext chose FreeRange for two specific reasons. First, the FreeRange system updates feeds and content in the background, ensuring that the content is always updated and accessible—even if the phone is out of tower range. Second—and perhaps more importantly—the FreeRange mobile widgets are designed to run on practically all mobile systems, ensuring the widest reader base possible for the ContentNext sites.

And straight from the paidContent post:

The key benefits: all four feeds from our four sites are in one place, and are updated in real time so you get the freshest news. You can view the feeds at your leisure, even when you’re offline. Also, it can serve as your default mobile RSS reader, as you can add your own feeds and even your local weather. The app works on the majority of mobile devices with a data connection besides BlackBerry.

For more information on the ContentNext partnership, see the FreeRange release.

FreeRange Communications enables media companies and consumer brands to deliver their content and advertising to mobile phones in a way that is fast and easy to read. The FreeRange Mobile Publishing Platform allows publishers to have mobile widgets that work on nearly all mobile phones, extending their business models and content to mobile phone screens around the world. For more information on FreeRange and its mobile services, visit FreeRange.

Meet: SEMpdx Searchfest 2008 is March 10

Just like developers’ language- and framework-specific gatherings, there are other tangential practices and events that can play an important role for Web startups, blogs, and the like, here in Portland.

One of those tangential practices is search-engine marketing (SEM). And Portland is one of the leading cities for professionals who are exploring and extending the white-hat techniques of this oft-maligned marketing communications practice.

So, it makes sense that Portland also plays host to one of the premiere national events for SEM, SEMpdx Searchfest.

This year’s event, SEMpdx Searchfest 2008, to be held March 10 at the Oregon Zoo, will consist of:

[A] full-day search engine marketing conference featuring multiple learning sessions and expert panels to help you leverage search engine marketing (SEM) in your organization. Whether you are an SEM professional, work in an advertising agency or part of an in-house marketing department, SearchFest 2008 will connect you with the leading thinkers and practioners in SEM today.

I’ve also been advised that the event has taken a decidedly strategic turn, designed to help folks understand the benefits of adopting—and strategies for incorporating—search engine marketing into the broader strategies for the business.

Sound interesting? You’re can still get the early-bird discount if you register before March 1. And if you want an additional discount of $40, the Silicon Florist is happy to comply:

How to get the discount:

  1. Register for SearchFest at http://www.searchfest.org
  2. Enter the code SEMBD in the “Coupons/Gift Certificates” text box and click “Add.” (This is at step 3 of the shopping cart)
  3. Enjoy your day at SearchFest

For more information, visit SEMpdx. Interested in attending? Or, take the opportunity to register for SEMpdx Searchfest 2008.

Portland Lunch 2.0: Filling and good for you, too

The inaugural Portland Lunch 2.0 kicked off, today, at the AboutUs offices in the still-being-renovated Olympic Mills Commerce Center. And after pouring through a number of tweets about the topic, this afternoon, I can confidently say that Lunch 2.0 was a definite success.

The Lunch 2.0 concept started with folks in Silicon Valley as a means of staying in touch with friends and former coworkers, while getting the chance to gawk at everyone else’s office spaces and to try out the food in the cafeteria.

And there was much gawking to be had at the new AboutUs build-out. The space was perfect for the crowd. And, by midway through the event, it was easily filled to capacity with a wide variety of folks from startups around the area.

Since its start in the Valley, Lunch 2.0 has popped up all over the map, from Amsterdam to Bangalore to (my personal favorite) Lunch Five-0 in Hawaii. Portland’s version of Lunch 2.0 was brought to town by Jake Kuramoto with help from Dawn Foster.

Thinking about attending a future Lunch 2.0? Please bear in mind that part of the appeal of Lunch 2.0 is its progressive nature of moving from one location to another—so you can start scheming about how to cowork in their space you get to see the cool spaces in town where smart people do their work. If you’re interested in having a group of hungry startup types invade your office space during a lunch hour, please comment below.

As a reminder for those of you who were taking pictures and who have plans to upload them to flickr, tagging them “lunch20” will ensure they appear in the flickr widget on the official Lunch 2.0 site.

Jive Software nearly doubles customer base in 2007

I knew Portland-based Jive Software was hot. I knew they were award winning. And I knew that they had taken an unassailable lead in the “Most Want Ads in the Portland Area” race.

But, even with all of this purported knowledge of mine, it’s always nice to have some numbers to back me up.

Today, Jive released some of those numbers for FY2007. And they’re impressive, to say the least:

  • Nearly 800 new customers
  • 325% increase in annual sales
  • 15% of the Fortune 500 use a Jive product

Jive attributes its continued success to businesses’ growing need for “a better way to work,” highlighting that the collaborative nature of Jive’s products makes them a compelling platform for improving communications with a “proven, people-centric approach to collaboration.”

For more information on Jive’s numbers, read the press release. For more information on the company, visit Jive.

(Hat tip Northwest Innovation)

Monitoring the pulse of Open Source

Impressed by the Pulse of PDX tool that gives anyone—whether they use Twitter or not—a view into what Portland-based Twitter types are saying, Raven Zachary saw an opportunity to provide a similar view into what the Open Source proponents are saying on Twitter.

The result? The Pulse of Open Source.

Lisa Hoover of Download Squad sees it as a stab at Twitter groups and deems the Pulse concept—appropriately—“cool”:

Twitter doesn’t have a grouping feature yet (even though they said 7 months ago it was “at the top of their list”) but that hasn’t stopped a group of open source aficionados from finding a way to form one anyway. Five Twitterers including SourceForge’s Ross Turk and open source analyst extraordinaire Raven Zachary launched The Pulse of Open Source today, calling it a “collective stream of consciousness from the open source community.” We just call it “cool.”

And Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick takes the concept even further in his Read/Write Web coverage of the Pulse concept:

With a little editorial judgment, this model could work well for any number of niche topics. Integration to display recent bookmarks on social bookmarking sites and blog posts wouldn’t be difficult either. Think of it as an industry-centric version of social lifestreaming, instead of a user centric one as is more common these days. I think both models are fascinating.

Wouldn’t that be interesting? I think so. And I see Portland continuing to innovate on how Twitter, as a platform, will be used.

GoLife Mobile framework promises true “write once, run anywhere” for mobile, digital-telepathy

GoLife MobileI just received word that Hillsboro-based GoLife Mobile, the mobile company focused on turning “dumb” phones into more intelligent platforms, will announce a development partnership with digital-telepathy of San Diego, today, that promises to deliver some of the first major “lifestyle” applications on the new GoLife Mobile framework.

The partnership announcement is a great move for both companies. Because I mean, seriously, a framework without apps? It’s not really going to fly.

[Update: GoLife Mobile posted additional insight on the partnership.]

So I almost stopped there, and you probably would have too. But then I started thinking about the framework. And suddenly, it became clear that this announcement was about more than a simple partnership. It dawned on me that this is actually a big announcement. As partners begin to validate the GoLife Mobile framework, it should have a positive affect on application development in the mobile world.

But you know me. I get really excited about this stuff going on in the Silicon Forest. Before I wax any more hyperbolic utopian fluff, we should start from the beginning.

What is the GoLife Mobile framework?

[It’s] a powerful framework which empowers the rapid creation and distribution of personalized lifestyle widget applications which cross multiple horizontal boundaries. Our Java thin-client runs on virtually any phone, and utilizes a novel on-the-fly application delivery methodology.

The underlying premise of any framework is to remove the common stuff, enabling developers to focus on elements of importance—the innovative leaps that keep apps sharp and make them worth using. GoLife Mobile is proposing to do that for every phone in every pocket.

Not only does the framework expedite development, it’s cross-platform, so developers can build an app once—once—and rest assured that the app is going to run on practically every phone.

Now, that may not sound earth-shattering to some of you. But I’m positive that a few of you have your jaws dropping ever so slightly. And with just a slight bit of envy.

Either that, or you just seriously considered jumping into mobile application development.

What the GoLife Mobile framework offers is the equivalent of building a Web app without having to spend untold hours making sure it renders in every browser on the market. Or, like writing a single application that runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, by default.

Write once, run anywhere. Yes, I know we’ve all heard it before. Could this possibly be the first true instance of that happening? Could be. Right here in the Silicon Forest. That’s big.

Long story short, the GoLife framework promises more thoughtful mobile apps, developed more quickly, for every phone.

It’s no wonder that the digital-telepathy folks are eager to jump on-board. And that vote of confidence could be the validation that the GoLife Mobile framework needs.

Jason Grigsby alluded to Portland’s trailing mobile adoption. That may be true, but if the GoLife Mobile framework takes hold, we may have the chance to lead in terms of mobile development.

If you’re a developer interested in working with the GoLife Mobile framework, register for more information at GoLife Mobile’s developer lab for the chance to be invitied to an upcoming developer conference in Portland.

For more information on GoLife and its solutions, visit GoLife Mobile or see the original release on the GoLife Mobile framework. For more on digital-telepathy, visit digital-telepathy and RE3EL.

Open Source Software meeting of the minds

Today, I had the privilege of sitting in on an Open Source meeting of the minds at OTBC, where a sizable contingent of folks from the Open Source community in Japan—programmers, entrepreneurs, professors, reporters—shared their vision for establishing a Mecca for Ruby enthusiasts—and a hub for Open Source—in Japan.

The bulk of the Japan team heralds from Matsue, a town on the north end of the main island in Japan. They are in the midst of developing the “Ruby City MATSUE Project,” a concentrated effort to make Matsue the “Mecca of Ruby.” The OSS Society Shimane also works in conjunction with the project to promote Open Source and Ruby.

Much like the efforts around the Portland-area Open Source scene, the MATSUE project is working to foster community building around codefests and the sharing of ideas on how to apply Open Source technologies.

The community is also lucky enough to have a university that provides a full semester load of undergraduate course work on Ruby, Rails, JRuby, and applying the technologies.

Besides their dedication to and focus on this effort, the group also commands some substantial geek-cred from the participation of Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, one of the original developers of the Ruby language, who is a resident of the town.

After spending today with the OTBC and dinner with the Portland Ruby Brigade, tonight, the Matsue contingent will head down to Corvallis to visit with the Oregon State Open Source Lab.

So what’s the Silicon Forest angle here?

An hour into the meeting, the two sides of the table were already pitching ideas back and forth. Sharing concepts and benefits of pursuing Open Source development.

And that’s a thing—I’d like to think—that we’d be very happy to keep going.

This is the first—of hopefully many—meetings of the minds between the Portland Open Source community and the Matsue Open Source community that, with any luck, will develop into a “sister city” arrangement to foster both of our communities’ continued learning and development.

The next time these folks are back in town, I’d highly encourage trying to meet up with them.

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