Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Final Post on Open Culture

This is my final post on the Open Culture blog.

Don't panic. I am simply moving to a new location. Please update your links and RSS feeds.

I finally made the leap off of Blogger and onto WordPress with the launch of my new Fast Wonder blog. Fast Wonder is an evolution of this blog originally started in November 2005, so this is more of a re-branding than a change in direction. Like the Open Culture blog, Fast Wonder is focused on open technologies, open source, web 2.0, social media, online communities, and innovation. I was even able to import all of the original Open Culture posts (with comments)!

A number of other “Open Culture” blogs gradually appeared over the years, and the time came to come up with a more original name and a real logo for this blog. A big thank you to Stephen Way for designing the Fast Wonder logo.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Remember to sign up for BarCamp, a free tech event in Portland!

Don't forget to sign up for BarCamp, a free tech event right here in Portland on May 11-12! We will also be kicking off the regular DemoCamp event series during BarCamp to highlight tech startup activity in the Portland area. Sign up now, and tell all of your friends!

How can you help promote BarCamp Portland?

More information about the event:

Tech + Geek + Culture. The event for the Portland tech community, produced BY the Portland tech community.

What is BarCamp? It is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.

BarCamp is a FREE event and the content is determined by the attendees. The event will be hosted at CubeSpace, which has a number of conference rooms for breakout sessions, a large main meeting area, wireless access, easy access to public transportation, bike storage, and ample parking.

We need your help to make BarCamp Portland a fantastic event for the tech community in Portland. Here's what you can do...

1) Forward this email on to people in the Portland area that may have an interest in attending. As we have done little marketing of the event (so far), assume that your local tech social network doesn't know about it yet.

2) If you have not already added yourself to the BarCamp Portland wiki page as an attendee, please do so. This will help us get a more accurate attendance count and plan accordingly (you want food, right?):

3) Add a session idea for the event. This could be a talk, a demo, a roundtable discussion - whatever! Please add it to the Proposed Sessions section on the wiki page:

4) Attend the BarCamp Portland Meetup this Thursday (04/26/07) evening 5:30-8pm at Jive Software downtown and have the opportunity to network with the tech community in Portland, and help plan for BarCamp Portland. More details:

I hope to see you at BarCamp Portland on May 11 & 12 at CubeSpace for a fun tech event!

Thanks to our sponsors (below) for making this event possible!
Monthly BarCampPortland Meetup Location and Beer: Jive Software
Facilities: CubeSpace
Facilities (Added Costs): AboutUs, Virtuous
Badges: JanRain
T-Shirts: Portland Development Commission
Logo Design:
Podcasting coverage of the event: SplashCast
Friday Night Reception: SPONSOR NEEDED
Saturday Breakfast: Iovation
Saturday Lunch: ISITE Design
Saturday Dinner: Microsoft
Saturday Night Reception: SPONSOR NEEDED
Saturday Afternoon Tea (Bubble Tea): Portland Perl Mongers

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Job Change: Joining Jive Software

I am excited to announce that I will be joining Jive Software as their Director of Developer Relations as of May 3. I have really enjoyed my time at Compiere. I still believe that they have a great product and that they will do some really cool things in the ERP/CRM space. My reasons for leaving were purely cultural / logistical. While working remotely from my office in Portland worked really well when when the company was smaller and more distributed, as Compiere grew in size it became more and more difficult to do my job from Portland. The rest of the management team is now consolidated in Santa Clara, and I am the only member of the management team working remotely.

When working at Intel, location was largely irrelevant. At one point, I managed a team with members distributed across Oregon, Washington, and California. I also worked on a 3 person open source strategy team for a while with two of us in Oregon, one in Washington, and our manager located in Arizona. Working from home was also a weekly activity for me during much of my Intel career. I found that my productivity increased dramatically if I saved those tasks that required more concentration (strategy development, writing, presentation development) for my working at home day. Working remotely can be challenging, but it seems to work best in a corporate culture where remote workers are a common occurrence and not an exception.

I knew that I would eventually need to move on to a new gig based on the increasing number of issues related to working remotely within the Compiere culture, but I had not yet started looking for a new job. I regularly get email from people, either a result of this blog or from acquaintances in the industry, asking me if I am available or asking if I know of someone for a particular position. It was only because I got an email from Sam Lawrence at Jive software about looking for someone to manage Jive's developer relations that I considered leaving Compiere. Jive has been a great sponsor of our monthly Portland BarCamp Meetups, and I have met quite a few of the people working there through various local technology-related activities.

I think that Jive will be a great fit for me, and I am really excited about working at Jive Software. Jive's product line fits with my personal interests in online collaboration technology. They have managed to seamlessly integrate file collaboration, blogs, wikis, IM, and more into a recently launched enterprise 2.0 product called Clearspace. As Director of Developer Relations, I will be responsible for building a developer community program for developers with an initial focus on the new Clearspace product.

Jive is a cool company with great products. I am honored to be joining such a fantastic company!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Zillow Faces Potential Legal Issues in Arizona

Zillow, a great web 2.0 tool for real estate, has been sent a cease and desist in Arizona. I used Zillow as a way to get a feel for what my existing home was worth during the sales process and to understand the potential value of the home that I was purchasing. Zillow pulls its data from public records and aggregates them together into a really nice interface based on Google Maps.

A few more details:

The Arizona Board of Appraisal issued two cease-and-desist letters to the company that operates the popular real estate Web site Zillow, saying it needs an appraiser license to offer its "zestimates" in Arizona.

"It is the board's feeling that (Zillow) is providing an appraisal," Deborah Pearson, the board's executive director, said Friday.

Zillow warns users the estimates it provides are not a definitive value but a starting point for consumers. Launched in February, 2006, the company claims it has 4 million users a month, including people wanting to how much their homes - or their neighbors' homes - are worth.


Zillow issued a statement Saturday saying it disagreed with the board's view, and pointed to an opinion issued by a national appraisers standards group that said online estimates aren't formal appraisals.

"We strongly believe that providing Zestimates in Arizona is completely legal and in fact an important public service, given that Zestimates are the result of our 'automated valuation model' and are not a formal appraisal," co-founder and company President Lloyd Frink said in the statement. (Quotes from The Columbian)

I seriously doubt that this would hold up in court; however, a small web 2.0 start up might not be able to weather the cost and resource drain of a court battle. I hope that they are able to come to some resolution. It would be a shame to lose such a helpful tool.

Stuart Cohen Announces New Collaborative Software Initiative

Stuart Cohen, formally CEO of OSDL who left during the merger with FSG, has started his own for-profit company focused on applications built on an open stack using open source methodologies. Cohen wanted OSDL to focus on more than just Linux, including open source applications, but the OSDL and FSG were really focused on Linux. Forming the Collaborative Software Initiative was a way for Cohen to lead a company focused on open source applications. This initiative is funded by OVP Venture Partners and has a strong advisory council including industry luminaries like Brian Behlendorf, Dan Frye, and Eben Moglen. They are also partnered with IBM, HP, and Novell.

According to eWeek, the company will

“focus on building non-competitive, essential software for vertical industries in a collaborative environment that helps companies solve shared IT problems. The business model for Collaborative Software Initiative is simple: Develop and support essential code that does not exist today and that meets the needs of competitors in vertical industries, such as financial services, at a significantly lower cost than if the companies were to develop such code internally or outsource it—and then support it.”(Quote from eWeek)

This is an interesting model, but the details are still unclear:

“CSI is taking a cue from open source methodology, but it's not a "pure open source play," says Cohen. Right now, CSI doesn't have any specific licenses in mind to offer software under, though Cohen does say that they plan to open source the projects when they are mature, and indicated that they would prefer Open Source Initiative-approved licenses.” (Quote from

It will be interesting to see how well this works. Companies may not need a company like the Collaborative Software Initiative to help facilitate collaboration across industries. I also think that it will be difficult to provide support for a diverse range of vertical industry solutions, so I am skeptical about how well this will scale. I will also be curious to see whether communities will form around these efforts that are similar to the communities for other open source applications.

Despite my skepticism about the details and implementation, I really like the focus on open source applications. I do think that over time more applications will be built using open source methodologies building on the years of success that open source operating systems, infrastructure and tools have garnered. I hope that this initiative will lead to more successful open source applications.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Camps and Conferences – Synergy or Animosity?

I was talking to Scott Kirsner yesterday about BarCamp Portland and other unconferences. He is writing an article for BusinessWeek on unconferences, and some of his questions got me thinking about the similarities and differences between camps/unconferences and traditional conferences. Are these two ideas synergistic or is there animosity between traditional conferences and unconferences? I think that answer is both.

Are traditional conferences worried about unconferences taking business away from traditional conferences? Maybe. Unconferences are usually free and are often local. The unconference is an adhoc gathering shaped by those who attend with the sessions and agenda being driven by the participants. The framework is defined in advance, but the sessions are organized and produced by the attendees. In other words, instead of a full agenda with sessions and speakers clearly determined in advance, you start with a blank grid containing times on one axis and rooms / locations on the other axis; lunches and any other common activities are often added to the grid in advance to provide some basic infrastructure for the event. You never what discussions, demos, and other interactions to expect before the event, but you can count on it being an interesting time!

Unconferences and traditional conferences may even attract slightly different types of people. Some people really like the traditional conference structure. They can plan out exactly which sessions to attend way in advance, and easily justify the cost of attending by making a business case to the boss for what will be learned from the conferences which appeals to many traditional companies. I know this because I used to be one of these people. I viewed conferences as a time to passively soak up knowledge from the “experts” while completely missing the value associated with networking and learning from the other participants. Traditional conferences also have the appeal of drawing in speakers who may not attend your unconference. For example, it is unlikely that Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt will show up at the Portland BarCamp; however, I could see both of them speak at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco next week.

Unconferences on the other hand may tend to attract people who enjoy shaping their environment and who may value networking and conversation more than presentation. You become a participant, instead of just an attendee. Sessions are proposed, refined, and often combined as the event progresses and conversations evolve. I also find more networking opportunities at unconferences, since many sessions are discussion based rather than a single person giving a presentation.

It seems like fewer people are attending traditional conferences and some of the large technology conferences have been canceled over the past few years (COMDEX). It used to be that we went to conferences to learn about upcoming technologies in an age before every company had a website and before we had thousands of blogs and podcasts providing information on any topic possible. Now, with more information available online, conferences have to provide compelling reasons to attend – amazing content, networking opportunities, and more.

Will traditional conferences suffer in this new environment? Some will, but it depends on how they react to it. Conferences that embrace the unconference format in some way are probably more likely to succeed.

O'Reilly, as usual, is handling the situation with style by being generous with their conference space and encouraging people to hold unconferences along side their traditional conference program. The most recent example is the Community Roundtable happening alongside the Web 2.0 Expo. O'Reilly also holds their own unconference, FooCamp, every summer. Companies like O'Reilly “get it”. O'Reilly knows that synergy and cooperation will be more beneficial than animosity. More conference organizers could learn from this example.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

BarCamp Portland May 11-12

BarCamp Portland, May 11-12, 2007

Tech + Geek + Culture. The event for the Portland tech community, produced BY the Portland tech community.

What is BarCamp? It is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment, with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.

BarCamp is a FREE event and the content is determined by the attendees. The event will be hosted at CubeSpace, which has a number of conference rooms for breakout sessions, a large main meeting area, wireless access, easy access to public transportation, bike storage, and ample parking.

If you are interested in learning more about the event, please visit the BarCamp Portland web site. Please add your name to the wiki if you are interested in attending, and tell your techie friends!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Operating System Convergence and the Palm Linux Announcement

Details are still a bit light, but Palm announced that they would be building a mobile computing platform based on Linux and open source.

The platform is described as a "new foundation for Palm." ... The Analyst presentation concluded without any technical or developer details revealed about the new Linux based platform. Many questions remain to be answered as to what the official name will be, what Linux technologies are included, how Palm OS Garnet compatibility will be handled and what the development environment will be composed of. Colligan ended the Q&A session stating that the Linux based platform will be a integral "core technology" for Palm for the foreseeable future. (Quote from Ryan Kairer on Palm Infocenter)

I suspect that this is actually part of a larger trend toward operating system convergence with Linux at the center of this trend as the primary open source operating system. Companies building set top boxes, mobile products, and other devices realize that there is not much value in maintaining an entire operating system when the value is higher up the stack. By using the Linux kernel and other Linux operating system components, companies like Palm can focus on the software above the kernel that adds real value to the product. We'll know more when they release the details, but my guess is that they will eventually replace low level PalmOS components with the Linux kernel and other parts of the operating system while focusing more on developing the user facing software.

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