Tag: Portland

Zloop: Simple social networking for almost anyone

I know. I know. You read the headline and let out an exasperated sigh. Another one? Seriously? But stick with me for a minute or two. Because I honestly think Portland-based Zloop has got something interesting happening.

Zloop helps anyone—and I literally mean anyone—create small social networks. They call them “loops.” And they can be about something extremely limited, like my family, or something larger, like Portland startups. These loops can be created on the fly. And you can belong to as many or as few loops as you like. You can manage multiple profiles, like a personal one, a business one, full details, limited details…

Again, I realize this sounds pretty standard.

But Zloop makes small social network creation so easy that even the ungeekiest person you know could use it. I’m not talking about your coworkers. I’m talking about your parents, your grandparents, your kids. Anyone. It’s like the—and I mean this in only the most positive way possible—the AOL of social network creation.

In fact—like AOL—it, quite simply, may be too easy and seemingly constricted for you to have any interest in it. And that, my friend, is the sheer genius of it.

This isn’t for you and me. You and I can go geek out on Ning or some other existing social network. We can jump on Drupal or slap some Django components together and bang one out. We don’t need simple tools like this.

And that is exactly the point. This is for the other 99.9% of the population. And that’s what I think makes it interesting.

So simple, I’m confused

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brett Meyers, the community evangelist for Zloop, to talk about their solution and where they were hoping to go with it.

“So how do I find new friends via the interface?” I asked.

“You don’t,” Brett replied.

“So, if I want to join a bunch of different groups…”

“You don’t really do that here.”

“Can I get an RSS feed off of this?”

“No.”

So there I am, sitting there with a confused look on my face. I mean, in terms of Web 2.0 social networking functionality, Zloop wasn’t pushing the envelope. They weren’t even bringing the common, roll-your-own feature set. What they were bringing to the table was, to my Web 2.0 addled brain, boring.

“But… hmm. What about… um,” I said, continuing to struggle.

And that’s when it hit me: some people—arguably the majority of the human race—form “social networks” in an entirely different way than the infinitesimal segment of us Web 2.0-focused geeks do. In real life, it seems, these social networks are actually formed in person.

No, I’m serious.

It seems that there are any number of groups—schools, churches, businesses—where people actually meet and get to know each other in person before they ever think about interacting with one another online.

Weird. But to each his or her own.

And that market—that gigantically broad market—is the group whom Zloop hopes to serve. Or as Brett put it, “We want to provide something that helps strengthen the communities that are already happening in real life.”

Zloop, with their inherent simplicity, their gentle and thoughtful AJAX transitions, and their “just enough” functionality, have some thing very interesting to offer. And that is Zloop’s genius.

Just like a Basecamp or a Twitter, Zloop—at first blush—is both incredibly difficult to explain and seemingly surreptitiously lacking some sort of whiz-bang that would make it of any use whatsoever.

And that’s why I think they’ve got something here. Something simple. Something pared down. Something straightforward. Something for a specific use that applies to a very, very large segment of the population.

Is it cutting edge? Absolutely not. Is it entirely unique? Not by a long shot. Does it have a chance? If they play their cards right, I think it does. A very good one.

If you’re interested in trying Zloop, just let me know by—ironically enough—dropping me an email or sending me a message on Twitter. I’d be more than happy to give you access to Zloop and hear your take on it.

Webvisionary Awards to coincide with WebVisions 2008

There’s a new award in town. Literally. Thanks to the Portland-creative triumvirate of WebVisions, Pop Art and 52 Ltd announcing the Webvisionary Awards, a new award designed to highlight exceptional work online. Winners are to be announced on the first night of the WebVisions 2008 conference.

The first annual Webvisionary Awards is accepting submissions of outstanding work in a range of categories, from mashups and pimped out personal pages to advertising and mobile. Entries must be submitted by April 30th and there will be a fee of $15 per submission.

The categories are extremely broad, so it will be interesting to see where this goes.

  1. Advertising
  2. Interactive Campaign
  3. Business
  4. Viral
  5. Experimental
  6. Community
  7. Blog
  8. Mobile
  9. Technical Achievement
  10. Web Application
  11. Mashup
  12. Games
  13. Video/Motion
  14. Educational / Resource
  15. Pimped Out Personal Page
  16. Student
  17. Best of Show

And while I’m not much of one for the flash mob mentality, I, for one, think it would be really nice to see some of the cool Portland companies around here get some of the recognition they deserve. Especially given the crowd that WebVisions tends to draw to town.

For more information on the award categories or to nominate your favorites, visit the Webvisionary Awards.

Tweet for tweet: Top 30 cities on Twitter

Portland-based TwitterLocal, the service built by Matt King that allows you to create an RSS feed of Twitter users for a particular location, has just moved added a feature that takes the site from a one-time visit to a regular destination—a leader board for the top 30 cities on Twitter.

The leader board currently ranks cities by the number of tweets by residents in a rolling 24-hour period.

Glancing at it a few minutes ago, Tokyo was in the lead with San Francisco running a close second. Paris leads the Europeans. And our hometown of Portland is sitting around #14 or so.

From 8:00PM, April 8, 2008 through 8:00PM, April 9, 2008, the list looked something like this:

  1. Tokyo
  2. San Francisco
  3. New York City
  4. 寅島市南区
  5. Paris
  6. (Japan)
  7. (Entre mi cuarto y mis zapatos)
  8. London
  9. São Paulo
  10. Los Angeles
  11. Chicago
  12. Seattle
  13. Toronto
  14. Portland, OR
  15. Boston
  16. Washington, DC
  17. (United States)
  18. Austin
  19. (Mexico Distrito Federal)
  20. (California)
  21. Atlanta
  22. Taipei
  23. Sydney
  24. London
  25. Osaka
  26. (Brazil)
  27. Madrid
  28. (Mexico)
  29. Melbourne
  30. Barcelona

As you can see, there is some weirdness can show up in the results. King notes these flaws in the system:

  • The seemingly high count of random places like “my pc”, “cybertron”, etc. are the geocoding service’s way of having fun. It seems some fake locations get assigned coordinates to somewhere in Kansas.
  • There is also a very high count of locations with asian characters, which again the geocoding services give only one location. Other than that the numbers are fairly accurate.

Despite these minor foibles, TwitterLocal’s leader board is the first location-specific Twitter analysis that I’ve encountered which actually begins to show which locations have caught the Twitter bug.

And as impressed as I was with TwitterLocal’s service, I’m sure to find this type of competitive ranking completely addictive, at the very least. I’m sure I’ll be checking TwitterLocal leader board, obsessively, over the coming months to see if we can get Portland to crack the top 10. At the very least.

Did your hometown make the list? There’s only one way to find out.

COLOURlovers chases Webby for the second year in a row

How’s this for a little local color? Err… colour? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Portland-based COLOURlovers, the community site that allows those enamored with hues and saturation to share their palette creations and ideas with the artistic community worldwide, has been nominated for the Webby AwardsBest Community Website” for the second year in a row.

What are the Webby Awards? They’re awards that are so cool they actually survived the dotbomb implosion:

Hailed as the “Oscars of the Internet” by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile Websites. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-person judging academy whose members include Internet co-inventor Vinton Cerf, R/GA’s Chief Bob Greenberg, “Simpson’s” creator [and Oregonian, I might add] Matt Groening, Arianna Huffington, and Harvey Weinstein.

If you’re like me (and I know you are), I’d really like to see a Portland site walking away with one of these awards. Especially given that this is COLOURlovers’ second nomination.

But they’ve got some tough competition. Some would call it “insurmountable.” I mean, they’re up against the likes of del.icio.us, Flickr, and StumbleUpon. And I know “the nomination is an honor in and of itself.” But wouldn’t be nice to give COLOURlovers a fighting chance?

Well, you can. Through the “People’s Voice” voting.

That’s right friends. American-Idol-esque voting has permeated the Webbys, as well.

So, if you haven’t visited before, swing by COLOURlovers and take a look. They boast and extremely active community in an extremely niche space. And they’re just darn pretty, to boot.

So, if you like what you see, consider giving them your “People’s Voice” vote. And spreading a little of that Portland hometown spirit.

Power to the people. The Portland people. If you catch my drift.

Six map apps that put Portland on the mapping map

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a major inland port. Maybe it’s the affection for the outdoors that permeates the Portland culture. Whatever it is, we’ve got something for maps around here. Portland is map happy. And nowhere is that more evident than our obsession with the mapping APIs that further the technology of cartography.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the mapping and location apps that call Portland, Oregon, home. (Thanks in no small part to the reigning King of mapping, Matt King. An “*” below identifies each of his mapping projects.)

Platial

The most well-known Portland-based mapping application, Platial, is the largest independent social mapping application. According to the Platial site:

Platial enables anyone to find, create, and use meaningful maps of Places that matter to them. Our dream is to connect people, neighborhoods, cities, and countries through a citizen-driven common context that goes beyond geopolitical boundaries. We are building Platial because we adore Places.

Unthirsty*

The admittedly “we did it for the fun of it project” that helps the would-be lush-on-a-budget find the nearest happy hour. And fast.

In Unthirsty‘s own words:

Unthirsty is the work of a group of like-minded souls who were always struggling (for obvious reasons) to remember where and when they last enjoyed that good happy hour. A plan of action was drawn up on beer sodden napkins over bargain pints and some mighty fine nachos. Thus, Unthirsty was launched and dedicated to the good of all mankind’s legally drinking denizens.

KnitMap*

Yearning for yarn? Look no further than KnitMap, your way to finding all of your needling knitting needs or simply getting your Turkish Cast-on on.

KnitMap describes itself as:

[A] site that catalogues and maps the locations of retail shops that sell yarn, knitting supplies and knitting accessories. You can search to find these locations in the US, Canada, UK and most of Europe. Its anywhere that Google maps will work, and the list is growing everyday! Once you’ve found a shop, you can rate it’s attributes, leave comments, upload photos, and add it to your Favorites.

SocialMap*

Think Unthirsty and KnitMap are cool, but interested in putting your own spin on the “plot and find [whatever] via Google Maps”? Then look no further than SocialMap, the mapping technology that powers both of those properties.

Why release SocialMap?

SocialMap was created to help solve the problems we encountered on the web within the communities we are a part of. Through its humble beginnings as a national Happy Hour finder, then a Knitting store locator, we noticed regions and groups that had a passionate user base, but were very underrepresented online. Existing websites and search engines were not only dated in their technology but lacked the ability for users to interact with the information presented.

Mapdango

Winner of the “Best Mashup” at this year’s Mashup Camp, Mapdango takes other API-accessible content and plots it on the map.

Mashup Awards described Mapdango as:

An extensive Google Maps mashup that lets you explore locations with helpful information including weather (WeatherBug), photos (Flickr), facts (Wikipedia), events (Eventful), news (Google News) and more.

WeoGeo

New to the Portland mapping scene, WeoGeo takes a deep dive into online cartography, providing extremely detailed mapping options.

[WeoGeo] supplies surveyors, engineers, cartographers, and scientists with the ability to conveniently store, search, and exchange high-resolution CAD and GIS mapping products. Mappers easily list their data for sale. Researchers quickly find the data they need.

(Bonus) TwitterLocal* (formerly known as TwitterWhere)

It’s not a mapping application, per se, so I didn’t want to include it on the list. But TwitterLocal is another Matt King project that makes location information useful in the context of Twitter. Simply plug in a location and TwitterLocal will provide an RSS feed of the Twitter residents in that area, like Portland, for example. It’s a valuable tool for getting a feel for your neighborhood Twitter types.

That’s just a short list. But, admittedly, there’s so much mapping occurring in map-happy Portland, that I may have missed some obvious maps. If I did, please feel free to admonish me in the comments.

Will Openfire Enterprise going Open Source be good news for Jive Jabber/XMPP work?

And the hits just keep on coming from Portland-based Jive Software. As if their “new Clearspace plus a new site plus acquiring Jotlet” announcement wasn’t enough, they’ve also decided to announce that Openfire Enterprise is now truly becoming an open-source product.

What’s Openfire Enterprise?

Openfire Enterprise addresses the Enterprise Instant Messaging (EIM) market by adding rich reporting, archiving, and control features on top of Openfire.

Okay, so what’s the whole “open source” move mean?

Well, it means a couple of things.

First—and most importantly for open-source advocates—it means that some of Jive’s Jabber/XMPP work has been officially extricated from quasi-proprietary muck which may have prevented more widespread adoption and development. At least, that’s what Jive (and I) hope:

One of our hopes with this move is that the last possible objection to deploying XMPP-based instant messaging at every organization in the world is now removed. Now, everyone will have access to an open standards solution that satisfies all the needs of IT departments… for free. We think that’s great news for the community and getting our technology deployed even more widely is good for Jive Software as well.

Second—and most importantly for Jive as a company—it means that Jive is taking a decided step toward focusing on its Clearspace product by giving the open-source community control of Openfire Enterprise. While Jive will still be looking to drive revenue with Openfire Enterprise by integrating it into Clearspace, they won’t be juggling the two products in terms of managing the overall development.

Maybe it’s just me, but from an entrepreneurial, open-source, geeky frame of mind this announcement is by far the most exciting news coming out of Jive, today.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

(Hat tip Dawn Foster)

WebTrends searches for CEO, finds him at Google

Now, I realize that Portland-based WebTrends isn’t exactly a “startup” around here anymore. (Although some would argues that the company continues to go through fits and starts as it navigates the ever-changing Web analytics landscape.)

But the news from Mike Rogoway at The Oregonian, this morning—that WebTrends has just hired a guy from Google to be their CEO—could have significant impact on the tech scene around here.

Meet Daniel Stickel, a Harvard-educated engineer—Magna Cum Laude, at that—who also boasts a rich 20-year history as an executive, with an impressive record of building businesses.

But I’m especially interested in his experience with preparing for—and living through—acquisitions. According to Stickel’s resume, he was an executive at K2 Technologies before and throughout acquisition, he helped establish the foundations that built Delfin Systems into an acquisition target, and he managed the Alta Vista engineering team that turned that property into a valuable commodity for purchase.

What’s more, it’s not often that you hear of companies in the Portland area hiring folks away from Google.

Let’s see… he worked at Google and he’s got experience in being acquired.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Portland Lunch 2.0: Five reasons to attend

Jake Kuramoto gives us five reasons (well, six, really) we should all consider attending Portland Lunch 2.0:

  • You enjoy meeting new people in Portland, some geeks, others not, all Portlanders, all the time.
  • You like learning about cool companies doing cool stuff in the Rose City.
  • You can’t make the evening and weekend activities like Barcamp, Startup Weekend and Startupalooza, but you really want to do 1. and 2.
  • You like good conversation with smart people over tasty eats.
  • You really need to break up your day by getting out of the office/house, seeing the sky, and checking out a new locale with some new people.
  • And bonus, you can’t pass up a free lunch.

Sound interesting? Well, you’re in luck, my friend. The next Portland Lunch 2.0 will be held Wednesday, April 9, at eROI.

More than 70 people have RSVP’d already. So it promises to be quite a crowd. And, unfortunately, it looks like Jake has had to close the RSVP list due to space constraints.

But, I’m still going to encourage you to show up, anyway. Because that’s just how I am. And because some people will not be able to make it. And the way I figure it—worse comes to worst—we can always peel off and overwhelm Backspace.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Jive Clearspace 2.0 is named “2.0” for a reason

Big news day for Portland-based Jive Software. They just announced the release of Clearspace 2.0, the release of whole-new, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up Web site, and the acquisition of Jotlet, a calendaring and scheduling tool that will be built into future versions of Clearspace.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Clearspace 2.0 and its new feature set on Friday. And I must admit, it’s an impressive step forward for the product and the company as they continue to assert their position in the realm of “enterprise collaboration.”

For more information on the release, I’d recommend reading Sam Lawrence’s overview of the new Clearspace features.

And, as I’m probably not the best person to comment on the comparative feature/functionality of the tool in regards to the market at large, I would highly recommend Marshall Kirkpatrick’s ReadWriteWeb write-up on the Clearspace 2.0. I noticed that Anthony Ha at VentureBeat took a liking to the new Clearspace project management features. And, for additional insight, TechCrunch’s Mark Hendrickson has covered the Jive news.

That should give you plenty of insight from folks much wiser than I. So, let’s get to that upon which I do feel comfortable commenting….

Honestly, what I found most interesting about my conversation with Jive and the demonstrations of their new feature set were the types comparisons I kept making. And they weren’t the kind of comparisons you’d think that I would be making while watching the demonstration of a piece of enterprise collaboration software.

“The front page reminds me a lot of Netvibes.”

“That river of information is a lot like FriendFeed or Facebook.”

“That works a lot like 37 signals’ Basecamp.”

“Oh, like Google Docs or Writeboard?”

Fact of the matter is that, throughout the demo, I threw out so many “that’s kinda like…” or “that reminds me of…” references to other Web 2.0 products that it suddenly became excruciatingly obvious to me why Clearspace 2.0 is version, well, 2.0. Because Jive has worked to incorporate the types of features and functionality that echo some of today’s most popular Web 2.0 tools.

Now, I know a number of you are starting to heave a big “So what?” sigh, but bear with me. Because there is something important happening here.

Those of us who live and breathe this Web 2.0 stuff or who are lucky enough to work in small thoughtful organizations that leverage these types of tools are in the vast minority. I’d argue that 99.9% of the population has no idea that this stuff exists.

What’s more, if you’re in a larger organization and successfully running something like Basecamp within your department? You’re a complete anomaly. Smart. But anomalous nonetheless.

Large organizations have things Microsoft SharePoint—or worse. They don’t tend to have access to collaborative tools like this. And that’s what makes this such an interesting release to me.

Marshall touches on this, as well, albeit more eloquently:

[T]hose of us who take things like startpages, News Feeds and Jabber seriously outside the enterprise get some solid validation from Jive and its customers.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. (That’s why I just quoted him.)

It will be interesting to see how Jive’s target market—the Fortune 500 companies who deploy this type of solution to thousands of users—respond to the type of functionality that we—as users of Web 2.0 tools for business—have come to expect.

And it will be even more interesting to see how the Web 2.0 crowd responds to this kind of validation.

Silicon Florist gig board pricing reduced

[Editor: I apologize for the heavy Silicon-Florist-oriented content this week. Lots of stuff swirling about the site while news has been light. I’m digging around for more stories to get the focus back on you. Have something interesting? Drop me a line or, better yet, add your Silicon Forest startup to my watchlist.]

We’ve lost our lease! Everything must go!

Oh wait. This isn’t one of those posts. But it is about dropping prices.

Given that the Silicon Florist Gig board is all about helping Web startups, boutique development groups, and other companies with Web-tech oriented positions find the talent they need, it makes sense that, well, folks actually feel comfortable using it.

And unfortunately, since the free postings have been exhausted, the board has gone a bit stagnant. Which makes me think that the price to post may have been aggressive, at best, and perhaps oppressive, at worst. So, I’ve decided to drop the prices for posting.

Pricing is now a buck a day: $15 for 15 days. Hopefully, this will pique some interest and lower the pain of posting to the board.

Honestly, I’d just really like to see this work for employers, for jobseekers, and for the Silicon Forest tech community. So I’d love to hear from you. Still too expensive? Not long enough? Think I should givep the dream and just go free? What can I do? Let me know.

Feeling more comfortable with this direction? Please consider posting a gig.

[Update]

In the comments below, Jason Grigsby asked, albeit in a bit more couth fashion, “What the heck am I getting for my hard-earned cash?”

Great question. As far as overall Silicon Florist exposure goes, the blog’s traffic numbers are always available via Quantcast or Compete. And the RSS feed subscribers are always available via that FeedBurner chiclet up top.

Below, you’ll find details on the specific number of views each job posting received (from most views to least).

  1. Community manager – Evangelist MyStrands (132 views)
  2. Web design freelance (130 views)
  3. Interactive Strategist Wieden+Kennedy (120 views)
  4. Web Application Developer Intrigo (93 views)
  5. Web Developer WeoGeo (87 views)
  6. Web Application Graphic Designer Intrigo (73 views)
  7. Rails Developer Planet Argon (69 views)
  8. Marketing and Sales Intrigo (67 views)
  9. Software Engineer, Level 1 Jive Software (60 views)
  10. Interactive Information Architect Wieden+Kennedy (55 views)
  11. Interactive Senior Designer Wieden+Kennedy (49 views)
  12. QA Engineer Tripwire, Inc. (46 views)
  13. Interactive Traffic Manager Wieden+Kennedy (45 views)
  14. Interactive QA Engineer Wieden+Kennedy (33 views)
  15. Senior Software QA Engineer Jive Software (30 views)
  16. Software Engineer – Library Development – Contract Position Lightfleet Corporation (19 views)
  17. Senior Optical Design Engineer Lightfleet Corporation (19 views)
  18. Director of Channel Sales Lightfleet Corporation (19 views)
  19. Director of Pre-Sales Engineering Lightfleet Corporation (15 views)
  20. Senior Software Engineer – Linux Kernel Lightfleet Corporation (14 views)
  21. Senior Staff Software Engineer – Linux Kernel Architect Lightfleet Corporation (13 views)
  22. Senior IC Verification Engineer Lightfleet Corporation (11 views)
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