Today, Portland-based StepChange Group took the stage at MIX08 to demonstrate a groundbreaking new application: the world’s first gesture-driven, Microsoft-Silverlight powered user interface on a mobile device.
The data-driven touchscreen interface, dubbed MIXr, runs in the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 environment, and was a proof-of-concept to showcase the functionality of these cutting edge development environments for the MIX audience.
“It was lots of fun—though nerve-wracking—to have our team sharing the stage with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie,” said StepChange’s Kevin Tate.
Aside from the Portland angle, why is this newsworthy?
In my opinion, the release of the MIXr application is important for two specific reasons.
Second, it gives us a glimpse into the future of social networking.
Unlike many of today’s “social networks on mobile devices,” the MIXr application, developed by StepChange in partnership with San Francisco’s Stimulant, demonstrates how the future of social networking may transition to your mobile device.
In other words, this isn’t a “m.” mobile view into an existing social network application; it is the social network application:
[MIXr] uses real-time user updates to track the mood and status of clubs and venues—and helps friends to connect and coordinate with one another during a night out.
It aggregates user ratings, such as a venue’s mood, line length, and music, and uses interactive data visualization to make it easy to figure out what’s hot and what’s not.
“Rich mobile applications are going to quickly change the way we use the Web everyday,” said Tate. “We’re focused on creating applications that leverage the powerful advantages of location, personalization and communication that the mobile environment provides – and have chosen Silverlight as our platform because of its portability and performance.”
[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.]
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)
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.”
Some people get married and then push everyone else to get married. Some people do the same thing with having kids. Me? I submitted my Portland on Fire profile, and now I expect everyone else in town to do it, too.
Portland On Fire is a daily discovery of PDX people. The site introduces you to a person in the Portland, Oregon (PDX), area every day. Reach out and connect. The site was created by Raven Zachary and launched on January 1st, 2008. Early profiles [focused] on individuals in the tech and creative arts communities in Portland, but there is no reason why it must stay focused in these areas. The talent pool in Portland is large and diverse, and this site hopes to make this fact evident.
Portland on Fire has been described as “slow social networking.” A profile a day. That’s not really too much to ask, is it?
And I have to admit, it’s really working for me. Here are some of the interesting folks that I’ve met (all virtually and some in person), thanks to Portland on Fire:
Portland’s Startupalooza, the March 29th bootcamp for startups—both existing and planned, continues to expand its roster of speakers. And it’s shaping up to be quite a gathering of local startup talent.
Startupalooza is an interactive forum for the Portland tech startup community. Find out about cool tech startups, learn from successful tech entrepreneurs and meet local tech-business people in a candid, no-BS environment. Admission is free.