Friday, December 01, 2006
Last night was the November BarCamp Portland meeting, hosted at the Jive Software offices. Can "retro" be used to refer to a lifestyle not more than 10 years old? If so, the Jive offices were late-1990's retro, set to the height of the dot-com boom: a bicycle rack just off the lobby, high-end cubicles with the expensive chairs, & a lunchroom with a refrigerator full of soft drinks and a bar in the middle of the room with a beer tap. (The beer was microbrew, of course.)
I was once part of this; it only feels like a lifetime ago. Then again, a lot of people who've struggled under the preseidency of George W. Bush's misrule probably feel that the late nineties were a lifetime ago.
The meeting was supposed to run from 6:00pm to 9:00, but it wasn't until a few minutes before 9:00 that Dawn and Raven realized that the agenda for this monthly meeting -- to plan the Portland Barcamp -- had yet to be discussed. The rest of us there -- it felt like about 20 people -- had been busy swapping stories and business cards. I don't know about anyone else at this meeting, but for me chances to simply talk shop with other people who are part of the techie world yet aren't hardcore, "if you haven't coded 30 hours straight you're a poseur" techie are few and far between. I won't drop names, but I was left with two impressions:
- Portland seems to be the high-tech version of a bedroom suburb for the Bay Area. Many people there shared that their work is based in Silicon Valley (working as a remote employee, telecommuting or flying south to be in the office part of the work week), but have a home in the Portland area for "quality of life reasons".
- The number of the people in Portland who make their living from Open Source is a constant surprise even to the people who make their living from Open Source. Communication between the smaller special-interest communities, despite their shared interests, is minimal. To offer one example, one of the people there was Erik Walthinsen, who started the GStreamer project. I remember listening to
his presentation about GStreamer many years ago at a PLUG meeting. I had since lost track of him, and assumed that he had accepted a better-paying job elsewhere and moved away from Portland.
This last point relates to the Wikipedia community on the grassroots level. For the first few years I contributed to Wikipedia, I didn't know any other Wikipedians in the Portland area; I had to go to the first Seattle Wikimeetup to meet one, who shortly afterwards moved away. About a year later I met GTBacchus, but within the year he moved to Seattle. (I'm not sure if that indicates something.) Only in the last year have I started to make an effort to connect with my fellow, local Wikipedians, and I'm honestly surprised at how many there are here.
As for the business part of the meeting? It ran for an hour. The consensus at the end was that we had two items to work on:
- The Portland Techie/Open Source community needs a place where individual groups can post information about upcoming meetings so we can learn about each other. John Sechrest asked if anything had emeerged to replace the calendar section of the late and missed free monthly ''Computer Bits''. My impression was that Upcoming.org was highly recommended, although it shouldn't be the only bulletin board to be used. Mark Dilley and Tak Kendrick of AboutUs.org have added a PortlandTech category to their website. (I just had a look and there's already 30 articles in this category; I added another.)
- That the details of the Portland BarCamp are still up in the air. I heard proposals for a gathering in the spring, in the summer, merge this with Recent Changes Camp in February, etc. Dawn and Raven both confessed that they're bogged down with paying work, so they can't lead this project. After much prodding from John Sechrest, it does appear that the meeting has a theme: Geeks and Technology in Portland. At least I think that's what was said.
Labels: portland tech
- original-research.blogspot.com y
spaghetti alla carbonara
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