Not so long ago, there used to be a Portland team blog that I read multiple times a day. Great voices. Great insights. And a really, truly great team vibe.
They had meetups, they had banter with their readers, and—most importantly—they had Portland paying attention.
Not only did I want to read the blog, I wanted to write for them. To comment. To be part of the vibe. To be part of that team. To be part of that talent that was doing a better job of keeping Portland informed—for free. Better, in fact than many of the paid journalists in town.
And then, much to my chagrin, that blog stumbled. Badly.
And the worst part of it was that it had nothing to do with the writers, nothing to do with teamwork, and absolutely nothing to do with Portland. It had to do with the fact that they were part of a much larger network that had less concern about the Portland site than they did the network as a whole. And they made some mistakes.
And now, it seems like ages since we’ve had that vibe. The blog never recovered. They lost the team except for a few who stuck around. They lost the banter by implementing an oppressive comment system. The list goes on and on.
And since then, it’s been some irreparable shell of a blog, mocking its former instantiation, dribbling out half-hearted and insipid posts on an irregular basis.
And Portland sat. Waiting for the voices to return. Or for someone to pick up the torch.
“Last Saturday, a local story dropped in my lap. But I had no outlet,” said Betsy Richter, the driving force behind Our PDX. “And, I got frustrated about the fact that I didn’t have much of a local presence any more (Twitter notwithstanding). So, I bought a couple of domains. And sent off email to a few people, asking for a review/feedback.”
Now bear in mind, it’s not a repeat of their former existence. This isn’t a “2.0” of the prior site, by any means. No, my friends, it promises to be better. Way better.
By Portland and for Portland, Our PDX promises to be a true hub of Portland news and happenings. You’ll see content developed by the Our PDX authors, but you’ll also see a great deal more. They’ll be working to aggregate publicly accessible media from throughout Portland, be that via Twitter streams or RSS feeds.
And they’ve really focused on getting the conversation going, again. Which is a very, very good thing.
Based on what I’ve heard about their vision, I’m excited. And I think it could really become that hub of activity for Portland that we’ve all been seeking.
Long story short, Our PDX will truly be a community blog.
I know that these folks know how to do it right. And I’m really looking forward to having them back.
Please join me in welcoming them back from their respective sabbaticals.
I can’t wait to see where this goes.
For more information, visit Our PDX and join in the conversation.
With this announcement, we’re soon to have more ReadWriteWeb content produced in Portland than anywhere else. Because Portland is now home to twice as many ReadWriteWeb bloggers as any other city in the world.
Congratulations to Frederic and ReadWriteWeb on this new relationship. I’m looking forward to continuing to read what is now the most popular Portland blog. And I’m also looking forward to Corvida coming back to town—so that we can further increase our lead.
ReadWriteWeb began publishing on April 20, 2003 and is now one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the world. It has over 220,000 RSS and email subscribers. ReadWriteWeb is edited by Richard MacManus and is written by a team of Web enthusiasts.
Look. You’re in Portland. Arguably the de facto hub of OpenID. So it happens. The OpenID soapbox is literally right here. I can jump on it at practically any time.
So yes, I’m talking about OpenID, again.
But this time, I think even the staunchest critics will find the discussion interesting. Because it solves a very common complaint.
You see, once you get past initial objections surrounding OpenID and the “we should push the value, not the technology” discussion—once you get into actually trying to convince people to use OpenID as a form of credential for online services—one criticism tends to pop up time and time again…
Why is OpenID a url? Why can’t OpenID be an email address?
Why does this complaint come up so much? Because email passes the “mom ‘n’ pop” test. As in mom ‘n’ pop are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of having an email address. They “get it.” And they’re far more comfortable managing that type of address than they are managing a url.
Long story short, email seems easier to grasp.
And we’ve been so conditioned to plug an email address into the “username” box, that it’s almost becoming second nature.
The concept is simple. And congruent with current OpenID logins.
One box. One credential to enter. The basic difference being that you’re using an email address instead of url.
So how do you validate that you are who you say you are? Well, there are a couple of ways.
If you don’t have know that you already have an OpenID, you can just use your email address and Email to ID will create an OpenID association for you.
The first time you sign into a new site, Email to ID will send a validation code to that email account. (Much in the same way CAN-SPAM encourages people to confirm their membership on email lists.) Using the code, you can validate that the email address is, in fact, yours and that you are who you say you are.
If you’re already a typical OpenID user, you can associate your existing OpenID(s) and relying parties with an email address. This allows you to use the inherent security features of your relying party instead of having to check your inbox every time you want log into a new site.
Technically, what’s Email to ID doing?
Okay. I can see you geekily salivating over there. But I’m not going to try to explain it. Instead, I’ll let the people doing the work explain that:
Emailtoid is a simply a mapping service – we take a GET request to our mapper ( eg, http://email@example.com ) and return an HTTP redirect (a 302) to an OpenID. If the email address is not in our system, we create an OpenID account for the user on the fly. The user logs into the OpenID account by verifying his or her email address through a one time URL or confirmation code sent to that email address. The RP (relying party, the site that originally sent the request) then has the user returned to it.
Get it? Good. Explain it to me sometime.
All I care about is that it works. And it does. Quite gracefully. And that is technology as it should be.
So is OpenID “mainstream” now?
I don’t know that making OpenID mainstream should even be a goal. But I do know that making services and technologies more useful to the general populous should.
“Basically, OpenID is great, it’s a wonderful technology, but it can be a bit confusing to the end users,” said Richardson, lead developer for Email to ID. “Users are already trained to use email as an identifier, so this bridges the gap between email and OpenID.
“Ideally, this service will go away as all top level domains will implement their own mapping. But until that time, we provide a way for sites to have people to use OpenID through their email address. The barrier of entry into OpenID is significantly lower.”
Conceptually, this service marks a huge step forward for “bending the OpenID technology to the needs of the common user.” And as such, it could definitely be one avenue for introducing a new way of logging-in to a wider group of people.
But, whether the term or concept “OpenID” needs to travel along with that form of credentialing is still a matter of debate.
To paraphrase something that Kveton, who in addition to efforts at Vidoop happens to chair of the OpenID Foundation, often says, “My mom doesn’t says she’s going to go establish an SMTP connection. She says she’s going to go check her email.” Or to put it another way, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak—or Gardenburger, as the case may be.”
Make no mistake, this is progress for OpenID and its potential. And progress very much in the right direction for a very fledgling technology with a number of benefits.
I, for one, feel that—with Email to ID—one of the major gripes against OpenID is now a thing of the past.
And that means, it’s time to attack the next one. What’s next?
If you happened to make it to Ignite Portland 3, you heard the first hints of Legion of Talk, a new series of more intimate Legion of Tech events designed to replicate the thought-provoking presentations of TED.
Well, you know those Legion of Tech types can’t do anything small. So it’s no surprise that they’re starting off with the big guns. Or perhaps more appropriately, by “Bringing the Thunder.”
Yes, shrewd business guy. Yes, creative thinker. Yes, driven entrepreneur. Yes, talented with the video. But you know what really got him there? Being a nice guy. And a decent human being.
Got him where exactly?
With a wealth of knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit, Gary rebranded the family business as Wine Library. Within a five year time period, Wine Library grew from a $4 million dollar business to a $45 million business.
Gary will be in town as part of his book tour, and a few lucky folks will get the chance to hear him speak at Legion of Talk. The event will be held at Wieden + Kennedy on July 1 at 7 PM. Tickets will be available June 24.
Like all Legion of Tech events, there is no charge for the event. But there will be a limited number of participants.
Hey! It’s Friday. And it’s going to be nice. And you’ve been working hard. All week. What with having to go to Ignite Portland 3 and the after party and Backfence PDX. I would imagine you’re plum tuckered out.
You deserve to kick back and relax. And what better place to do it than everyone’s favorite Friday afternoon activity, Beer and Blog?
What’s that? You’re “thinking about it”?
Well, clearly, you need a little bit more of a shove. So, let’s give you a few reasons to attend, shall we? How about three: Vidoop, Vidoop, and Vidoop.
Vidoop Troop #2. The next wave of soon-to-be Portlanders has walked uphill in their bare feet, all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma, just to meet you. (They told me they were happy to meet other folks, as well, but they mentioned you by name.) And they actually had to fight their way through a mob of angry Tulsans to get here. They’d really like to meet you. And, you know, “hang out.”
Vidoop is buying. What’s better than a Beer and Blog on a Friday afternoon? A Beer and Blog with free beer on a Friday afternoon, silly. And Vidoop is making that possible. But don’t go to the usual spot. Or you’ll be both lonely and buying your own brews. Head on over to Plan B.
To those of you who attended Ignite Portland 3, let me start out by apologizing. Because honestly, I feel like a complete ass. When I stepped on to the stage to give my little sponsor pitch, the last thing I expected was the incredibly kind response I received from you. And it kind of took me by surprise.
Okay. Not kind of. It downright flustered me.
So, I’d like to do now what I should have done then—but failed to do. And that is to say “Thank you.”
Thank you so much for the encouragement and support. I can’t really explain how much it means or how humbling it is to have had this really random chance to meet so many of you, the amazing, intelligent, and incredible people of Portland and Silicon Forest. Please know that I really, really appreciate the fact that you take the time to swing by here from time to time. And I feel really lucky to have had the chance to be part of that.
So, now where were we? Oh yes! The Ignite Portland 3 round-up.
Well, it seems that the Strands Ignite Portland After Party cut into the amount of blogging that usually occurs after Ignite events. Apparently, everyone was waxing poetic about the event vocally instead of bloggily.
But be that as it may, there are a few posts streaming through. And of course the videos, the pictures, and the tweets. (The usual caveats apply. If I’ve missed your post, photo, tweet, or anything else, please comment and I’ll add it to the list.)
Dare to go where you fear – My presentation from Ignite Portland 3
“Thanks to everyone who attended and created this wonderful event. If you enjoyed my story, please read more at this blog or go to my archive blog of Asian stories at www.galactictraveler.blogspot.com You can always follow me on Twitter, just look for lilbutterfly.”
Ignite Portland 3
“We were fortunate to be able to sponsor Ignite Portland 3, which was held at the Baghdad theatre in Portland, Oregon.”
Tell us your thoughts about Ignite Portland 3
“Thank you to everyone who attended Ignite Portland 3! Last night the speakers had their turn to talk, now we want to hear from you. What did you think about the event? What did you like and what can we improve on?”
Finally, thanks again to all of the amazing work, countless hours of stress, and “making a great thing even better” effort from the Legion of Tech. You did it again. And for that, you should be congratulated.
So you missed it? There, there, gentle reader. There’s another chance! That’s right. The second round of Vidoop visitors have made the sojourn for the tour of their new hometown. And they’re looking forward to hearing all your hyperbolic insight about our fair city.Like their predecessors, Vidoop troop #2 be at the Vidoop-sponsored Beer and Blog, this Friday. (NOTE: Location change folks. Beer and Blog will be at Plan B, this week. Plan B. Did I say “Plan B”?)
So, who’s going to be there? And what’s their deal? Let’s take a few moments to meet this collection of Vidoop’rs (Bonus points if you can figure out what all of these folks have in common—besides being employed by Vidoop and the fact that they’re moving to Portland):
Chad Blomquist, Software developer
What? I help design and implement various products. Recently, I’ve spent most of my time working on our IE and Firefox browser plug-ins, and let me just say, we have some exciting new features in the next release (coming soon).
How? Born in Missouri, raised in Oklahoma. I got a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and stuck around for a master’s in computer science at Tulsa University as a member of the ‘Cyber Corps’. Post graduation I worked for a couple of years at the computer security division at NIST in DC. Two years ago I was recruited back to Tulsa by company President and co-founder Luke Sontag (who I befriended while at TU).
What? Product development planning, project management, and general cat herding.
How? Though I’m moving out from Oklahoma, I’ve only actually lived there for about ten months (followed my husband, Scott out after he was recruited to Vidoop). Prior to that I lived in Bellevue, WA working for Expedia and Microsoft. This is my first go ’round with a start up and it’s been quite an adventure! Having spent much of my life in Washington, I’m looking forward to being back in the Pacific Northwest but now exploring a new city! When not working, I dig viewing and participating in theater, dance, puzzling, crafting, and flying (and if you promise to keep a secret, I’m a reality tv and celeb gossip junkie too).
What’s the best way to get involved in local theater (performing/crew)?
Any good teriyaki joints in downtown?
Any awesome spots for some pinball madness?
Do The Shins play locally very often? (very cool to hear they are from Portland)
Scott Blomquist, CTO
What? Figure out how to ship Vidoop’s crazy ideas and other feats of magic that, to sufficiently advanced civilizations, appear indistinguishable from useless overhead.
How? Born in Missouri; grew up in Oklahoma; studied electrical engineering in Missouri; learned the art of software development at some software company in Seattle’s East Side suburbs; fell in love with the Pacific Northwest; was recruited by my brother Chad (see above) to Vidoop in Tulsa; thrilled to be moving to Portland, although Seattle still feels like home to me; love my wife, my 3 cats, technology, puzzles, and games; I’m also an unapologetic Microsoft advocate.
As home to Ward Cunningham, father of the wiki, Portland has a special place in the world of wiki. And, of course, we’ve also got AboutUs here—Ward’s current employer—which holds the promise to be one of the leading wikis in the world.
So when something momentous happens with wikis, it affects Portland. And today’s announcement definitely fits the bill.
What is the Universal Edit Button? Well, you know how we’ve all become conditioned to look for the little RSS chiclet as an indicator that an RSS feed is available? This is that same idea—only it’s an icon that indicates a page is editable.
The Universal Editing Button (UEB) will allow a web surfer to more quickly recognize when a site may be edited. It will be a convenience to web surfers who are already inclined to contribute, and an invitation to those who have yet to discover the thrill of building a common resource. As this kind of public editing becomes more commonplace, the button may become regarded as a badge of honor. It may serve as an incentive to encourage companies and site developers to add publicly-editable components to their sites, in order to have the UEB displayed for their sites.
Leave it to people in the wiki market to know how to collaborate. Nearly 20 different wiki providers have teamed up to offer a new Firefox extension that will notify users whenever they are on a page that is publicly editable, using a standard icon that sits in the same place the RSS autodiscovery icon appears. Clicking on the icon… will take you to that page’s editing interface.
Again, I think this is a huge step forward in wiki collaboration and its great to see. But what I remain even more impressed by? The speed at which this whole thing took place. And the collaboration that helped them achieve it.
I think there are any number of open-source and open-specification pursuits that could stand to learn from this.
Finally! It’s time for Ignite Portland 3. That’s right folks. Tonight! One night only! Tons and tons of pulse pounding action! We’ll sell give you the whole seat but you’ll only need the edge!
Oh, I’m sorry. I might have gotten a tad carried away there.
But, seriously, Ignite Portland is a great event. And I’m looking forward to seeing you there. But—like the presentation format—it’s quick. So I thought it might helpful to give you a few tips to get the most out of your experience.
DO get there early. Really early. I’m serious. Early. Did I say “Early”?
DO be prepared to give everyone and anyone your Twitter name. (Don’t use Twitter? Get on it.)
DO be nice to all the Legion of Tech folks and volunteers. (They’re all volunteers, actually. And they’re doing this in their free time.)
DO talk to Kelly Guimont/@verso/Banana Lee Fishbones (she’s working the door) about Star Wars. (If all else fails, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” or “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” may work.)
DON’T be a wallflower. Talk to people in line while you’re waiting to get into the venue. Talk to people while you’re waiting in the food line. The Bagdad is a great venue for presenting, but talking to folks at breaks will take some doing.
Now that you’re on Twitter, DO try to tweet about the event and hashtag it #ip3.
DO try to get in front of Aaron Hockley and his camera. I swear, that guy even makes me look good. If not him, Kveton will make you look good too.
DO take the chance to introduce yourself to me and tell me about the cool side projects you’re pursuing.
It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
It’s that time again. Techvibes has published its latest installation of the Portland Start-up Index. And while there’s a bit of jostling among the usual gang, no new companies and/or products appear on the list this time around.
As always, this list comes with some caveats. The Techvibes index ranks Portland area tech start-up Web sites—sometimes a series of products from one company, sometimes the corporate site—based on an average of Alexa and Compete traffic rankings. And they don’t take into account widget activity.