Tag: Portland

Scoble is right: Portland deserves more geek cred

Wow. Two Scoble mentions in one week. Who’d of thunk? (For those curious types, the other Scoble mention.)

Aaron Hockley shook me from my travel stupor, highlighting Scoble’s recent post “Israel: A country too far from Mike Arrington’s house” and advising me that the post was “perfect fodder for a Silicon Florist post. ”

He’s right. It is.

Scoble’s post is mostly about Israel. And, honestly, I have to agree with him. I had the opportunity to work with a Portland startup whose development team was in Israel. And I also got to work with some Israeli developers at another not-so-startup gig in Portland.

Scoble nails it. It’s an amazing tech scene over there.

But that’s not why I’m posting.

I’m posting because he also says this:

I’ve started noticing a trend: that the further away a tech area is from Silicon Valley the less respect that area will get…. Do you agree or disagree that people, companies, countries can get the respect and/or tech industry PR they deserve if they are far away from Silicon Valley?

And I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this makes me. How thrilled I am to hear this kind of thinking. You mean, there might actually be something interesting happening in technology outside of Silicon Valley? Do you think?

But, as to his question, that’s a bit more difficult. Because I honestly don’t know. It’s really, really hard to get folks in the Valley to pay attention to folks outside of the Valley.

There is a ton of noise down there. And what’s more, there’s always the potential for face-to-face meetings. There’s real, honest-to-goodness networking. Like the stuff we do around here with Portland Lunch 2.0, Ignite Portland, and BarCamp Portland.

But the access points are entirely different.

Down there, you have access to a bunch of people like Arrington, Scoble, Om Malik, Jerimiah Owyang, Jason Calacanis, Scott Beale… the list goes on and on. Up here? You can only bug Marshall Kirkpatrick for coverage about five to six times a week before he starts getting upset. (Trust me, I’ve tested this limit, time and time again.)

Now, Scoble’s been to Portland before, so I know he’s aware of some of the stuff happening up here. But he’s not here enough. We’re not connected enough.

Down there, there’s more potential:

I’ve noticed this when I visited MySpace: they were so excited when I visited because they say that tech bloggers never visit. I was thinking back to my own experiences. Yes, that’s true. Facebook employees regularly meet up with us at parties and dinners and conferences. We run into MySpace employees far less often. These personal connections turn into stories on blogs.

And yes, while it’s nice and quaint that I try to make sure your projects are getting coverage here on the little ol’ Silicon Florist blog, that’s only going to get us part of the way. And a small part of the way, at that.

Ideally, I’d really like to see Portland getting the credit it deserves—on a regular basis—in more well-read publications, like TechCrunch, Scobelizer, GigaOm, and ReadWriteWeb. And The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Merc.

We’re on the right path. And the tide is starting to turn. But there’s still a long ways to go.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on how we can continue to grease the skids. What more can I be doing to help you? What more can we be doing as a community to get the startups here in Portland more of the attention they deserve?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

InnoTech Oregon 2008 is imminent

It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost time for InnoTech Oregon 2008, the first big tech event of the year for Portland. Sean Lowery, who organizes the event, is feeling the same way:

After 6 months of planning and preparation InnoTech happens this week, April 16-17 at the Oregon Convention Center. It seems like just weeks ago it was October and we had the first planning meeting for the NW CIO Summit, now after months and months of calling, emailing and planning, InnoTech Oregon is here. I won’t bore you again with how great this event is going to be, but with 100+ speakers, 2000 attendees, 90+ technology demos and must attend networking you can’t go wrong.

You can always check the InnoTech has a mobile conference guide to find sessions to attend. Me? I’m really looking forward is the Open Source track:

[Dawn Foster] will also be moderating a panel about Open Source Communities on April 17th with some amazing panelists and open source rock stars: whurley, Stormy Peters, Danese Cooper, and John Mark Walker. The session is part of an all day open source tracking being organized by Raven Zachary.

If you haven’t registered yet, the folks at InnoTech have offered a 25% discount to all of you Silicon Florist readers. So, if you’re considering attending, please take advantage of it:

Discounted InnoTech Oregon Conference & Exhibits Pass includes Breakfast Presentation with Don Tapscott, Author, WIKINOMICS, at the reduced rate of $45.00 per person ($60.00 per person standard price.) Click to select INNOTECH GENERAL REGISTRATION and enter Discount Code SIL45D to confirm your place at the breakfast.

If you’re already planning to attend and you happen to be on Twitter, I’m planning to hashtag my InnoTech related tweets as “#inno” and I would encourage you to do the same. (If you’re not already following hashtags on Twitter, you’ll need to do that in order for your tweets to be tracked by that service.) When you tag tweets #inno, I’ll make sure to include your twittered insights in any roundup posts.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Portland is Awesome, a new group blog covering the Portland scene

Portland is Awesome. Sure, sure, it’s a catch-phrase. And something we all know. But now, it’s also a blog covering Portland and its, well, “awesomeness.”

Portland is Awesome is a celebration of the many fun and interesting things in Portland, Oregon. Many of the Portland blogs just seemed too corporate, so I thought it would be cool to start a new group blog where people can blog about anything related to Portland.

It is most definitely cool. I haven’t been this happy to see a new blog come on to the scene since Portland on Fire.

Portland is Awesome will be a group blog, featuring a number of local writers. Dawn Foster, Nate Angell, and Bram Pitoyo [Update] and Sam Grover, Kathleen Mazzucco, and Justin Kistner have posted, so far. But I also noticed that more authors are wanted. (To paraphrase Aaron Hockley, “If only there were some sort of gig board around here where people could promote these positions for free by using the discount code ‘freebie.’ If only.”)

The once strong local group-blogging scene has stumbled a bit in recent months, leaving a noticeable gap in grassroots coverage of Portland’s incredible arts, entertainment, food, and culture. And that’s just one of the many reasons that Portland is Awesome (and other Portland-focused group blogs rumored to be in the works) will be a welcome addition to this much needed—and currently underserved—area.

I’m looking forward to reading this new perspective, so I’ve already added Portland is Awesome to my feeds. And I’d highly suggest you do the same.

For more information, visit Portland is Awesome.

Is Jive CMO Sam Lawrence the next Robert Scoble?

Portland-based Jive Software has been all over the blog world as of late with their release of Clearspace 2.0. But that’s not the only place they’re turning heads.

Jive’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sam Lawrence, has rapidly become a social-media phenom on Twitter and on his blog, Go Big Always (which coincidentally uses the same Justin-Kistner designed WordPress theme that adorns Silicon Florist).

Now, Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick is hinting that Lawrence may be the next Robert Scoble, given how readily his social media presence jumps to mind:

When we asked for examples of people doing this kind of work well on Twitter, the first name that flooded our replies inbox was Jive Software’s Sam Lawrence.

For those of you unfamiliar with Scoble, Kirkpatrick provides a short and sweet primer:

Robert Scoble blazed a big trail by blogging and producing video as a technical evangelist for Microsoft from 2003 through 2006. No longer at Microsoft, Scoble now produces media for media’s sake at FastCompany.tv. Others have followed his lead, knowingly or not, and job titles like “social media evangelist” are no longer nearly as rare as they used to be.

As for me, I’ve seen the power of Sam’s influence in a variety of media. And it continues to grow on a daily—if not hourly—basis. His bursting on to the social-media scene has been nothing short of explosive. And I continue to be impressed with his growing influence and impact.

That’s good for Jive. But it’s also good for us here in the Silicon Forest.

We could be witnessing the emergence of another true A-Lister, right here in our own backyard. And that, gentle reader, could be huge for the Portland startup scene.

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)

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