Tag Archive for 'portland'

Portland MeeGo Meetup on January 17

The next Portland MeeGo Network Meetup will be Monday, January 17  at 6:30pm at Kells. We will also be meeting at Kells on the third Monday of every month starting in March, but we’re skipping February to celebrate Presidents Day.

Our featured speaker this month is Quim Gil from Nokia, and we invite anyone who wants to learn more about MeeGo to come hang out and talk about the project.

Agenda
6:30 – 7:00: Hang out and talk to other people interested in MeeGo.
7:00 – 7:15: Introductions
7:15 – 7:45: Quim Gil – MeeGo on Nokia Device Demo
7:45 – 8:30: Open Agenda item or Q & A

Logistics
Date: January 17
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: Kells Private Room Upstairs at 112 SW 2nd Ave.

It would be great if you could RSVP on Upcoming to let us know how many snacks we should have available.

If you want to get notifications about future meetings, you can join the Portland MeeGo Network Google Group.

SXSW Interactive Party at Beer and Blog

Are you going to Austin for SXSW Interactive in March? Not going, but wish you were going and want to hang out with other geeks? Want to learn more about SXSW so that you can go next year? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should join us at a special pre-SXSW party at Beer and Blog on Friday, February 26th from 4pm – ??.

Since this is a community organized event, you’ll be buying your own drinks, but it will be just as fun! We’ll be pairing up with Portland Beer and Blog for this event, and it will be a great opportunity to chat with others about sxsw. We can find out who else is going and talk about ways to stay in touch at the event. If you are new to sxsw, you can get some tips from the experienced attendees. SXSWi is my favorite large tech event held every March in Austin, TX. SXSW is also referred to as spring break for geeks, not that I expect the parties to sway your decision to attend (*cough*).

The Details:
Friday, Feb 26, 2009 from 4:00pm – ??
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97214
RSVP on Upcoming

Reflecting on Shizzow

shizzow_colorAs many of you know, I was the community evangelist and one of the co-founders of Shizzow, a location-based service designed to help you find and hang out with your friends. Last week we made the difficult decision to shut down the company behind Shizzow and let it live on as a side project for Mark Wallaert while Ryan Snyder and I officially moved off of the project. The sad reality is that the number of users were dwindling, and we had little time to devote to Shizzow, so we thought this was the best option for everyone involved. I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on Shizzow and what I learned from it.

First, I want to make it clear that I do not regret a minute of the time that I put into Shizzow. It was an incredibly fun project, and Mark and Ryan were amazing people to work with. We had an amazing community of users here in Portland, and I met so many new friends as a result of my work on Shizzow. I also learned quite a bit throughout this process, and the time that I spent on Shizzow was worth the education I received as a result.

There are a few things I would do differently if I had to start over, even if some of these things go against traditional business advice:

  • Spend less time and effort focused on the business during the early days. Having a business model, financial projections and a VC pitch isn’t worth much without users. Focus on the users first, and then spend time on the business after you’ve fully validated that you are going to have enough users to turn it into a business. Spending too much time on the business in the very early days leaves less energy for the product. I know this goes against much of the traditional startup advice, but this is critical for people with limited time who are starting something in addition to their regular day jobs.
  • Start small and move up. Shizzow was set up with heavy corporate processes from the start. For example, we were a C corp, which involved a lot more paperwork, effort and legal expenses when we could have started as an LLC and moved to a C corp later only if we needed it. Starting with the minimum effort needed to get going and growing as needed would have been a better choice for us.
  • Fast is better than perfect. Shizzow was built to scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of users, which made for a rock solid product, but it also took too much time. As a result, we entered a little too late in the game. In the future, I’d focus on getting something out early and worry about scalability later as needed. Don’t get me wrong, the product should be built on an architecture that is capable of scaling to large numbers of users, but you don’t need to start optimizing for them until they start to materialize.
  • Have better plans for growing the user base. We definitely underestimated the difficulty in growing our user base outside of Portland. We should have spent more time on outreach to people outside of Portland and making it easier for new users to get started with Shizzow.

There are also a few things that I wouldn’t change:

  • Start with great people. I love working with people who are smart and fun to be around, and I had a great time working with Mark and Ryan. I learned new things and have new friends as a result of Shizzow.
  • Focus on community. We had a great community of users in Shizzow, and we spent a lot of time fixing bugs and making changes based on the community feedback. We also had a great community of developers who spent countless hours hammering on the API and attending our regular developer meetups over drinks at the Green Dragon.

I thought it was important to spend a few minutes reflecting publicly about my experiences with Shizzow in the hopes that other people can learn from it as well. While it’s always a little difficult to let go, I think it was the right time.

A heartfelt thank you everyone who used Shizzow and supported us over the past year. Finally, a shout out to the person who created this video. I love it!

Community Leadership Summit: July 17 & 18 in Portland

Jono Bacon (Ubuntu community manager) is organizing the second annual Community Leadership Summit on July 17 & 18 in Portland, Oregon (the weekend before OSCON, which has returned to my lovely city). I didn’t make it to the summit last year, since I skipped OSCON, but I heard great things about the Community Leadership Summit, so I’m not missing it this year!

Community Leadership Summit

Here’s a brief description from the website:

The Community Leadership Summit 2010 is the second incarnation of the popular event designed to bring together community leaders and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community.

The event provides an unconference style schedule in which attendees can discuss, debate and explore topics. This is augmented with a range of scheduled talks, panel discussions, networking opportunities and more.

The event provides the first opportunity of its kind to bring together the leading minds in the field with new community builders to discuss topics such as governance, creating collaborative environments, conflict resolution, transparency, open infrastructure, social networking, commercial investment in community, engineering vs. marketing approaches to community leadership and much more.

The event is free to attend, but you will need to register to help them plan the event. A big thanks to O’Reilly for offering up the space for the event.

Two New Yahoo Pipes Classes for September in Portland

I will be teaching 2 new Yahoo Pipes classes in September. I found that the Monitoring Conversations course was a little too intense with too much information crammed into 2.5 hours, especially for people who are new to Yahoo Pipes. It’s a bit overwhelming to go from creating your first Yahoo Pipe to more advances uses in  just a couple of hours, and I would like to have a little more time to devote to the exercises. As a result, I’ve decided to break the classing into a 2 part series held one week apart to give people more time to digest the content. Here are the details:

Basic Introduction to Yahoo Pipes

Abstract

Your customers are talking about you, your competitors are revealing information that you want to know and you need to keep tabs on your industry in the most strategic way possible. Can you find the conversations and information quickly and efficiently now? This Yahoo Pipes training course is designed for people who are new to Yahoo Pipes and want to learn how this tool can give you an edge. In 1.5 hours, we will cover the basics of why online tracking is so important for your business, how to build your first Yahoo Pipe and what are some more advanced uses that can be employed to impress your boss and your clients. This class is ideal for bloggers, public relations and marketing professionals, as well as community and content managers or anyone involved in customer care.

This course will teach you how to create your first Yahoo Pipe. It is a pre-requisite to the Monitoring Conversations Using Yahoo Pipes.

Upcoming Course: September 23, 2009

9:00am – 10:30am
MacForce 100 SE Salmon St. Portland, Or 97214
Early Bird (ends Sept 16, 2009): $75
Late registration: $100
Visit the Basic Introduction to Yahoo Pipes page for prerequisites, a course outline, and more details.

Register Now

Monitoring Conversations Using Yahoo Pipes

Abstract

Would you like to become more responsive to your customers and quickly know what people are saying about your company and products? This Yahoo Pipes training course is designed for people who are familiar with Yahoo Pipes, but who want to learn more about using it to monitor social media websites and fine-tune techniques. In 2.5 hours, we will also review the basics of building pipes using lists of keywords and filtering to find the content most interesting to you.You should know how to build a basic pipe and have experience using the following modules: fetch feed, filter, and sort and know how to use the debugger to inspect feeds. If you are new to Yahoo Pipes or want a refresher, you should take the Basic Introduction to Yahoo Pipes class first. This class is ideal for bloggers, public relations and marketing professionals, as well as community and content managers or anyone involved in customer care.

Upcoming Class: September 30, 2009

9:00am – 11:30am
MacForce 100 SE Salmon St. Portland, Or 97214
Early Bird (ends Sept 25, 2009): $125
Late registration: $175
Visit the Monitoring Conversations Using Yahoo Pipes page for prerequisites, a course outline, and more details.

Register Now

Who Should Attend

  • Public relations professionals
  • Marketing managers
  • Brand managers
  • Social media managers
  • Community managers
  • Web Strategists
  • Content managers / bloggers
  • Customer care specialists

Community Mini Case Study: Whiffies on Twitter

whiffies_fried_pies_smallI’ve been spending some time hanging out at several of the Portland food carts over the past couple of weeks getting to know some of the people behind the amazing food. Raven Zachary recently introduced me to Whiffies Fried Pie Cart on Hawthorne, and I started getting to know Gregg Abbott, the man behind those addictive little pies. The Twitter account for @whiffies is very community focused with many replies to conversations, retweets of other interesting posts, and is way less self-promotional than you might expect from a business. The first time I talked to Gregg, we were in a group of techies; we had our iPhones out; we were Tweeting; and we chatted about several obscure location-based technologies that few people outside of the tech community have ever heard of. When I asked him about his background, I expected him to say that he was a freelance programmer / designer or some other web-based profession and was surprised to learn that he’s been working in the food industry. At that point, I wanted to learn more about how he came to Twitter and what it has done for his business. Here’s a quick email interview with Gregg.

Dawn: A quick Google search for Gregg Abbott shows that you have been involved in online communities and social networks for a while. How did you get interested in social networking, and how did you use these technologies prior to opening Whiffies?

Gregg: When it comes to social networking via the web it’s really all I’ve ever done. I feel like I’m from the very first generation who grew up with ‘net social networking. When I was 12 years old you could find me on prodigy all night chatting and being social with other like minded people. My community has always sprung from the web. It’s funny to me because the major social networks, let’s take Facebook for example, are simply duplicating AOL circa 1994. Here’s a place to chat and be social while playing fun games and goofing around. I guess what I’m saying is this has been a huge part if my life for some time, and I really enjoy the fact that the number of users has increased so much lately. It has given me a whole lot of opportunities to expand my social circles.

[Dawn's note: this is where I remind myself that I am not as young as I think I am, since I grew up before this generation who grew up having Internet access.]

Dawn: You have been very active on Twitter under the @whiffies account when you opened the new food cart. How has Twitter or other online technologies helped your business?

Gregg: Twitter has been amazing at connecting me with great people. When I’ve had questions or needed help with something Twitter has rarely failed to help me find what I need. The coolest thing about Twitter, and this is gonna come back to the barn raising analogy (I’m obsessed with Anabaptists forgive me) is the sense of community that it invokes. It’s amazing!! Coming into this I was way more cynical and jaded about people. The truth is, people (especially early adopting tech people) really want to help one another. Every chance they’ve gotten they’ve showed up and been amazing. It’s so inspirational to see. I think (maybe it’s hope) that Twitter is gonna help us move past the bowling alone phase in American culture. For a small business starting out often times the hardest thing is getting the word out to the community about the product and service that you offer. Twitter has been amazingly helpful in overcoming this hurdle. It’s also given me a way to connect with my customers directly. In restaurants (and food carts) on of the biggest obstacles you face is unhappy clients not giving feedback. As a restaurateur, getting honest feedback helps you create better products and a better experience. I think people are a little more comfortable giving feedback to a. someone who seems friendly and receptive and b. through an electronic intermediate. Twitter let’s me have real dialog (awesome to say about <140 character tweets) with people and helps me create better products and a better service.

Dawn: What are your tips for other new businesses who want to do something similar?

Gregg: Tips I have for other businesses are:

  1. Join the community (this is key and is gonna play into all the rest.)
  2. Offer your help anywhere you can.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Buy a new cart, not a used one.
  5. Go down and talk to everyone you can in the carts. They’re all super awesome and super helpful.

Dawn: What made you decide to open a fried pie cart and what are your evil plans for world domination of the fried pie market (or maybe Portland domination)?

Gregg: My dad and I have been kicking the idea around for some time. He makes baked handpies in his catering business and being a little bit gluttonous I thought let’s fry these puppies up and see what happens and Whiffies was born.

Community Case Study Summary

As you can see from his tips in the third question, this is a community-oriented guy with a combination of online and offline community. Friends have been teasing me over the past week about my Whiffies pie addiction, but it isn’t just about the pies, it’s about the community. We go down to the carts to hang out and talk to people while we eat our pie, and within a few minutes of tweeting about going, we usually end up with a few friends at the carts hanging out with us.

While I focused on Whiffies for this mini case study, many of the other food carts in Portland (@koifusion, @pdxyarp, etc.) are also embracing Twitter in a good way with a focus on community, instead of spamming us with self-promotional tweets. It’s great to see traditional businesses jumping onto Twitter in a way that makes me want to follow them rather than wanting to run away screaming.

Whiffies is open from 8pm – 3am Tuesday through Saturday if want to check them out. Make sure you say hi to Gregg while you’re there.

CubeSpace: The Importance of Community

Officially, CubeSpace is a local for profit business in Portland, OR with two sides to the business. They started as a coworking space where people can work or hold meetings with all of the amenities of a traditional office, but they recently expanded into consulting where they bring groups of freelancers together to bid on bigger projects. Both of these efforts generate revenue for the CubeSpace business.

Unofficially, they are the adopted home of the Portland technology community. They donate their space in the evenings to user groups and other technology gatherings without asking anything in return. They have generously let me hold Legion of Tech meetings, community manager meetups, and they have been a great partner in many of the bigger local events, like WordCamp, CyborgCamp, BarCamp, Startupalooza, and more.

Earlier this week, they put out an open letter to the community letting us know that they were having financial difficulties that would likely result in eviction from their space and / or bankrupcy. I was personally very concerned and sad and outraged by the way US Bank was responding and worried about losing CubeSpace and about the impact this would have on so many of my friends, particularly Eva and David. Most of my friends were experiencing similar emotions, and there was an outpouring of support and offers of help from far and wide within the technology community in Portland.

The community gathered online and offline to find ways to help. We were discussing CubeSpace in the halls between WebVisions sessions, at lunch, and everywhere else we gathered in real life. People started Tweeting with the #savecubespace hashtag. Several ways to help have been emerging: a site where you can donate money (they have raised over $5000 so far), an auction, and more. Various ways to help have been included in the comments of the Silicon Florist post.

All of these activities generated a huge amount of activity on Twitter, which attracted the mainstream media. Stephanie Strickland start putting in calls to US Bank for comment and later KGW did a news story about the incident. Mike Rogoway wrote a great article for the Oregonian. The grassroots support on Twitter led to mainstream media coverage, which finally got US Bank to the table to provide CubeSpace with some options.

Community Case Study

This level of support from the community, both online and offline, is not typical behavior when you are talking about a for profit organization having financial difficulties. Had this been a place where people rented office space and went home at the end of the day, few people would have cared if they went out of business. Because Eva and David have always been so generous with their space for the technology community – letting community user groups meet at CubeSpace for no charge, the community wants to give something back to them. They have been so generous with the community, and now that they are struggling, the community wants to help them.

They didn’t create the Portland technology community, but they joined the community and became active participants. They gave generously to the community, and now the community wants to give back. This is the way strong communities respond when one of their own is in trouble. This isn’t the first time the community has bailed someone out of a tight spot; one of the best examples was the Bram Pitoyo bike fund when his bike was stolen last year.  Eva and David are in trouble, and the community is pulling together to help. I think the past few days in particular speak to the strength of the Portland technology community.

Next Steps

Eva and David have quite a bit to think about this weekend as they weigh their options and decide which path to take. I expect that they will need to take a hard look at their business model and cost structure if they decide to continue with CubeSpace to avoid ending up in a similar situation again. Personally, I think that they should get rid of some more cubicles and increase the flexible space or provide bigger, dedicate office spaces to small companies. So many of us left the corporate world to escape the cubicles and aren’t eager to jump back into one.

I have also been holding off on making any donations until I see how I can best help. Donating money isn’t always the best option depending on which path they choose, so I want to make sure that I can help in a way that would be most productive. Whatever Eva and David decide to do, I will be there to support them in any way that I can as a member of the community that they have been so much a part of. I wish them the best of luck whatever they decide to do.

Update June 16: The end result is that CubeSpace has decided to shut down their business, but I wish them the best of luck in future endeavors.

Introduction to Yahoo Pipes: Monitoring Conversations – June 25

My next Yahoo Pipes class is scheduled for June 25th. For those who aren’t familiar with Yahoo Pipes, it is a tool that I use to monitor conversations happening across various social media sites. While Yahoo Pipes can also do so much more, I have focused this introductory class on monitoring conversations.

Register for Introduction to Yahoo Pipes: Monitoring Conversations

When: Thursday, June 25, 2009 from 5:00pm – 7:30pm
City: Portland, OR
Location: CubeSpace 622 SE Grand Ave., Portland OR (no remote attendance)
Learn more: Prerequisites, Course Outline and Information

Costs:

  • Early Bird: $124.99
  • Late Registration (After June 18): $199.99
  • Students, Freelancers, or Unemployed can contact me for lower prices [UPDATED 6/5/09 with tweaks to pricing for the class]

Prerequisites

  • You will need to bring a laptop to the training class
  • You must have a Yahoo account (Flickr / Upcoming) and confirm that you can access Pipes with that account
  • You will also need to create a Google Spreadsheet with 5-6 keywords formatted like this prior to the class.
  • No prior knowledge of Yahoo Pipes is required

Why you need this course to learn about Yahoo Pipes

This course will teach you how using Yahoo Pipes can help you understand what people are saying about you, your industry, your competitors and more through smart filtering of blogs, news sources, Twitter, and other online sites. Your customers are talking about you and your competitors are revealing information that you want to know online. Can you find it quickly and efficiently now?

  • Become more responsive to your customers by knowing when and where people are talking about your company and products on blogs and Twitter. Find and respond more quickly and efficiently.
  • Use what people are saying about your company and your products to improve your products / services, marketing messages, web content, documentation and other communications.
  • Get insight into your competitors.
  • Keep up with important information about your industry by focusing on keyword filtering to find the most relevant content for your situation.
  • Use the information to get ideas for blog posts or other communication.
  • Tailor your online research to your specific needs and interest areas.

Visit the Introduction to Yahoo Pipes training page for the course outline and other information about the class.

Community 2.0 and WebVisions

I wanted to let people know about two upcoming conferences where I will be speaking in the next 2 weeks.

Community 2.0 May 11 – 13 (San Francisco)

I will be on a panel discussion at 2:15 on Tuesday about How to be a Kick-A$$ Community Manager with some rock star community managers:

WebVisions May 20 – 22 (Portland, OR)

I’ll be presenting here in Portland at WebVisions on Friday, May 22nd at 10:30am on the topic of Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy and will be covering many of the topics from my book.

The speaker list for WebVisions is a who’s who of cool people, and the conference is really reasonable to attend ($250 and under), so you should register if you haven’t already! They are also offering a very nice combo registration deal for Open Source Bridge if you need to register for both.

There are also a couple of special events during WebVisions that you won’t want to miss – you don’t even need to register to attend these!

I hope to see you at one or both of these events!

Get a Discount on My Introduction to Yahoo Pipes Class

With only a week left, there are still seats available in my Introduction to Yahoo Pipes class on May 7th. If I was selling mattresses or cars, I would probably have some kind of giant clearance sale to get rid of the excess inventory, right? Why should my Yahoo Pipes class be any different? OK, OK, I promise to be less annoying about it.

Here’s the deal, register now with the discount code ‘bigsale’ to get 30% off the regular price. In other words, you can get in for $70 (student, freelancer, or not currently employed) or for $105 for the corporate types if you meet the early bird deadline of May 5th!

The Details:
When: Thursday, May 7, 2009 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm
City: Portland, OR
Location: WebTrends 851 SW 6th Ave., Suite 1600 (no remote attendance)
Learn more: Prerequisites, Course Outline and Information

Register for the course