Category Archives: legion of tech

Why I'm Leaving the Legion of Tech Board

Before I get into why I’ve decided to step down from the Legion of Tech Board, I want to provide a little bit of history and background. In 2006, I attended Foo Camp, the unconference event that was catalyst for the global BarCamp phenomenon, and I was blown away by the experience. The vibe of a conference organized by attendees was like nothing I had experienced before, and you get a group of very passionate and smart geeks – the type of people willing to give up a weekend to pursue various geeky endeavors. When I got back to Portland, I was craving more of that type of event. I started thinking about all of the smart and amazing people we have here, and I wished that we had unconferences and similar events. At some point, I realized that I should just start something and see what happened. I got in touch with Raven Zachary who was also interested in planning a BarCamp Portland, and I started a monthly BarCamp Meetup that helped us kick off the planning efforts for our first BarCamp Portland in 2007.

At that time, in 2006 and 2007, Portland had a vibrant technology community, but the community organized events were a bit siloed and the general purpose events were too corporate for my tastes. We had user groups for almost every programming language organized by communities of people or passionate individuals, and we had corporate events run by various organizations. BarCamp Portland and Ignite Portland filled this gap – larger events cutting across multiple technologies that were organized by the community for the community. However, we found that the logistics of organizing large events without some type of organization to handle things like paying vendors, getting event insurance, etc. was difficult. For BarCamp, we had sponsors pay vendors directly to purchase food, supplies and everything else we needed, but this was a logistical nightmare. We decided that a non profit organization would be a good way for us to have our events and be able to handle the event logistics more easily.

Viola! Legion of Tech was formed in December of 2007, and I am still very proud of the role that I’ve played in this organization over the past 3+ years. I’ve served as Chair, Secretary and board member of Legion of Tech, and I was one (of the many) driving forces behind the organization. Legion of Tech is my baby, but it’s time to push that baby out of the nest. 🙂

In the past 3 years, I feel like we’ve made great progress toward solving the problem that I wanted to solve – have more large, community organized events in Portland that cut across technologies and help to unify the Portland technology community. I actually think that maybe we’ve swung too far in the other direction with so many of these events.  Attendees, sponsors and organizers are starting to get burned out with so many events, and I’m burned out from organizing events. As most of you know, organizing events is a lot of work, and running a non profit organization is also a significant amount of work. The work that I once found invigorating has become exhausting because I’m not as excited about organizing events as I once was. I’m not as passionate about organizing events, and at the same time, I think that Legion of Tech has to undergo some changes in order to continue to best serve the Portland technology community. There are other people currently sitting on the board (and I’m guessing others in the community) who are passionate about making whatever changes are needed and who are ready to step up with a new vision for Legion of Tech.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Legion of Tech, and I am confident that it will continue to live on for many years and evolve along with the Portland Tech Community. I am just ready to hand the reins over to other people to drive it in a new direction.

What does this mean for me?

  • I still plan to help organize and volunteer for events like Ignite Portland, but I will probably start to move into more of a supporting role rather than a leadership role for these events.
  • It will free up my time to work on other projects. I have a few side projects that I would like to work on, and I plan to brush up on my very rusty coding skills and spend more time hacking on API data as part of my work on these other projects.

What does this mean for you?

  • Do you want to see Legion of Tech do something a little different? Start thinking about what you would like to see change.
  • My leaving frees up space on the board for more people who want to make a difference in the Portland technology community. You can read our blog post about the election process to learn more or run for the 2011 board.

I’ll be stepping down on December 31 when the new board members take office, so I’ll be involved in the elections for the 2011 board. Feel free to track me down at Beer and Blog if you have any questions about Legion of Tech or the election process.

Ignite Portland 4 was Awesome

Wow! We’re never quite sure what to expect with Ignite Portland after the chaos at Ignite Portland 2, but the last two events, including Ignite Portland 4, have been smooth sailing.

The presentations were amazing. We had:

  • a little nudity
  • a sing-along for take me out to the ball game
  • a Kenny Rogers quote used by 2 different speakers
  • cyborgs
  • dating advice
  • garanimals
  • and much, much more

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors. Without sponsors, Legion of Tech could not afford to do free events. The sponsors paid for the venue, event insurance, some food, and more. We also had some really cool, 30 second sponsor videos, which I thought worked much better than having each sponsor talk on stage for 30 seconds.

The only down moment during the event for me was having people boo our sponsors. Not cool, people. The sponsors are the people who make the event possible. Be nice to them if you want to have future events.

A huge thank you to all of the people who volunteered and helped out at the event. Without the support of a huge volunteer staff, we could never make these events happen. Keep in mind that everyone in Legion of Tech and all of the people staffing our events are volunteers. We do this because we love it.

Now, what did you think of Ignite Portland 4? What worked well, and what didn’t? Please post any feedback about the event on the Ignite Portland Open Thread: What Could We Have Done to Make Ignite Portland 4 Better?

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Legion of Tech, Art, Waffles, and Alcohol on Oct 23rd

Our final Legion of Tech Happy Hour Meetup for 2008 will be held on October 23rd and has been described as: “Sweet waffles, savory waffles, beer, wine, art & geeks all converging in a glorious orgy of awesome.”

Thursday October 23, 2008 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Jace Gace
2045 SE Belmont
Portland, OR

You can RSVP for this event on Upcoming and get more information about the event on the Legion of Tech blog.

Brady Bunch, Twitter, Lonely Techies, iPhones, and Events that Do Not Suck

Have you ever wondered how the Brady Bunch, Twitter, lonely techies, iPhones, and events that do not suck are related?

We decided that at the next Ignite Portland that rather than giving our sponsors the microphone for 30 seconds, we would rather have them submit a 30 second video. Needless to say, we wanted to have an example to help encourage people to get creative with their videos. Todd came up with the concept and the lyrics for the Legion of Tech Brady Bunch video. The video is hilarious and you need to watch it.

A huge thank you to Jed Herzog of Outlier Solutions for filming and editing this for us and to our wonderful chorus of singers; Mia Burcham, Owen Burcham, Liam Burcham, Aodan Collins, Xander Collins, Soren Collins and Rainer Collins. A big thank you to Todd for coming up with the lyrics and herding the rest of us to get everything recorded.

If you want to put together a cool video and have it shown at Ignite Portland in front of ~500 people, you can visit the Ignite Portland site to learn more about sponsoring.

WhereCampPDX: Location, location, location

The first ever WhereCampPDX event is coming up in just 2 weeks on October 17th-19th where local geo-geeks of all stripes will be gathering for a weekend of location based fun. WhereCamp is an event that started in the Bay Area in 2007 to continue conversations from the Where 2.0 conference. Legion of Tech is organizing a Portland version to show off the amazing, fun geographic technology activity we have. This is not just an event for specialists: we would like anyone who is interested in the intersection of people, place, and technology to participate.

WhereCampPDX needs your help!

  • Attending. If you plan to attend, please RSVP on Upcoming so we can plan accordingly.
  • Sponsoring. We still need a few more sponsors to help cover the costs of the event.
  • Marketing. Blog, Tweet, and let your friends know about the event.

You can expect to see people from a variety of places talk about various location-based technologies related to projects like Shizzow, Platial, WeoGeo, Trimet, and much, much more. You can find out more about the event on the WhereCamp PDX blog.

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Elections for the Legion of Tech Board

Do you love Ignite, BarCamp, Startupalooza, and the other events organized by Legion of Tech? If so, you might be interested to know that nominations for new board members are due on November 1. We will also be forming a new advisory committee if you would prefer to help out with a smaller time commitment. The entire process is documented on the Legion of Tech site with detailed information about responsibilities and the elections.

I know that at least three people currently on the board have decided not to run for next year due to personal time constraints, new jobs, etc. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved this year.

If you want to get involved, take a look at the detailed blog post and then talk to a current board member to get nominated.

For anyone living under a rock or not living in Portland, Legion of Tech is an Oregon non-profit organization working hard to grow and nurture the local Portland community through free, educational, community-run technology events. I am a co-founder of the organization, which was formed in December of 2007, and I currently serve as Chair. I plan to run again for the board, and I have had a great time participating in Legion of Tech over the past year.

I hope to see the rest of you out at our upcoming events, including WhereCampPDX October 17th – 19th and Ignite Portland 4 on November 13th.

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Mark Shuttleworth in Portland for Legion of Talk on July 21

Mark ShuttleworthAre you going to be in Portland on July 21st (the Monday of OSCON)? If so, you won’t want to miss Mark Shuttleworth speaking as part of the Legion of Talk series brought to you by Legion of Tech. This is the second in the Legion of Talk series (Gary Vaynerchuk spoke to us last week). Mark will be talking about 2 things: Ubuntu and his experiences traveling in space. I am in geeky heaven with that combo 🙂

The Details:

July 21, 2008
McMenamins Mission Theater
1624 NW Glisan St
Portland, OR 97209
6:30pm to 8:00pm
Doors open 5:30pm (come early, have dinner & hang out with us before the talk)
RSVP on Upcoming, but also get a ticket on the Legion of Tech site

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Gary Vaynerchuk at Legion of Talk

Tonight is the first in what will hopefully be a series of guest speakers for Legion of Talk, a Legion of Tech. event. Gary V. is in town for his book tour at Powells, and we were lucky enough to snag him to talk to us about how he has used social media to grow his family wine business.

Here are my raw notes from the event:

Gary would like to meet every human on earth, and it looks like we’re bringing him about 150 people closer to his goal at this event.

He comes from a traditional retail background in the family wine business. His original passion was selling baseball cards, but when he realized that people collect wine, and he could bring those passions together.

He went from running the company to walking away and spending 18 hours a day working with the online wine community, but he loves it. If you aren’t loving what you do right now, you need to embrace your DNA figure out what you want and do it now. Figure out what you want to accomplish and work backwards from the goal. Right now we are in a gold rush – the early adopters will get the gold. By sitting and talking about what he knew, he’s been really successful with his book deal, speaking engagements, consulting and more. If you really do what you love, you can work the ridiculous hours it takes to win. 99.9% of people out there don’t know what Twitter is. It isn’t over. It’s just getting started. Email is over (especially with the younger crowds), but social media is really just starting.

You need to be patient. He loves his community, and he answers a thousand emails a day. It isn’t scalable, but he loves the community more that he loves himself. When people ask a question that he doesn’t know, he researches it and finds the answer. He really likes people and what he does. Giving back is in his DNA.

Go to the niche of what you love, and really narrow it down. Get specific. Put out awesome content, but the show isn’t important. Content is king, but marketing is the queen and the queen runs the household. After you publish the content, It’s all about building the community and spending as much time as you need. If you love it, you’ll be doing this anyway. Become part of the conversation for what you love, and then really attack it. This works for your brand (as a person) or your corporate products. Be good to the consumer and build businesses by word of mouth. Word of mouth is out of control right now with existing social media tools. The conversation will happen, nothing is hidden, and you have to completely embracing it. Bring your dark secrets out on your terms before someone else does.

The long tail is way longer than we know. Twitter, Facebook, Pounce, and other social products will continue to grow, and everything is at our fingertips. There are so many cool and interesting things that people are doing with technology that you can embrace if you are passionate enough about it. Make it about you. Gary talks about wine, and the NY Jets, and WWF, and … You need to look for excuses about how you can, not how you can’t.

The platforms now are basically free. It isn’t about the platform, and don’t chase other business models. If you do something really good and unique, people will watch it. You have to be authentic and real to build your personal brand. It all comes down to how good you are. It’s all about the advertising and monetizing around your passion. Advertisers are moving into it slowly, but they are moving into it. It is about the patience. Tier 1 advertisers have to die and the tier 2 advertisers are going to move into this area and be successful. You have to hustle to make the money. Look at Google ads to see who is already purchasing advertising on your keywords. Talk to people about advertising.

Don’t look at where the money is; look at where your passions are. Doing something because there is a lot of money in it won’t be authentic. He missed the whole blogging thing because he doesn’t like to write. He saw Lazy Sunday, and knew he had to do this video show.

People are people. It’s about the people and having a clear message that is authentic and not over-polished. He wants people to be real, authentic rats. Don’t worry about whether it is new media, old media, whatever.

Force the world to come to you.

The most important question is “how can I help”. The reason he is here at Legion of Talk because Raven worked with him to donate wine to iPhoneDevCamp. You get a lot back when you give to people. Give 80% to every relationship & that 20% that you get back will be so delicious that you won’t need anything else. You have to give back to your community.

He pumped out 200 shows before he started getting much interest. Stop consuming content and start producing. He doesn’t have time for reading or TV. He’s popular because he puts out.

A side note / insight from Gary: Naked women on the internet is good business 🙂

Want to see other cool people talking to the tech community here in Portland? If you know of any other big names in the tech community coming into town for other events, Let us know, and we’ll try to schedule them into a Legion of Talk event.

Legion of Talk Series: Gary Vaynerchuk

Legion of Tech is starting a series of events called Legion of Talk with interesting guest speakers:

We like to think of it as our attempt to bring the TED Conference to Portland- one speaker at a time. And as with all Legion of Tech events everyone is invited and admission is always free.

A lot of brilliant and interesting people pass through the Northwest and we hope to seize the opportunity to make them available to you. (quoted from Legion of Tech)

Our first speaker is Gary Vaynerchuk best known for Wine Library TV, but he will be talking to us about how he has used digital media with great success for his business. You can learn more about this event and about Gary by reading Todd Kenefsky’s post on the Legion of Tech blog.

July 1, 2008
224 NW 13th Ave., Portland
7:00pm to 8:00pm
RSVP on Upcoming

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A great time at Ignite Portland 3

I had a fantastic evening at Ignite Portland 3 on Wednesday! The presentations were spectacular, as always, and we even had a great after party at Imbibe hosted by Strands and Polymer Studios. I thought that I would be too tired to enjoy the after party, but it was really nice to be able to kick back and enjoy talking to people where I didn’t have to worry about organizing anything.

There were so many great volunteers who helped make this event a success; Legion of Tech events, like Ignite Portland, are put together entirely by volunteers, and these events are not possible without a bunch of great people helping out. The sponsors also made this possible by providing the funds required to buy food, the use of the Bagdad Theater, insurance, etc. A huge thank you to everyone who helped, sponsored, took pictures / video, and more to make this event so much fun to attend.

From an organizer perspective, this Ignite went very smoothly, especially compared to the chaos of Ignite Portland 2. The ticketing system helped us get people in quickly, and the Bagdad was better prepared for the onslaught of beer and pizza orders, so even the lines for food and drinks stayed fairly short. The best part was that we had a bunch of people (I’m guessing around 500), but everyone had a seat, and we didn’t have to turn anyone away.

Silicon Florist (as always) did a really great write-up on his site with links to other reviews of the event, so I encourage you to read his post for more information about the event. If you missed it, you can watch the videos and view the presentations.

If you attended Ignite Portland 3, we would love to hear your feedback about the event – what did you like or what can we do to improve for the next one?

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