I’ve been in San Francisco (and nearby) for most of the last week, primarily to attend this year’s WhereCamp, which was held at Stanford. I had a ton of great conversations about data, privacy, transit systems, community organizing, and how Portland is or isn’t like other places.
I also led a session on geo-games (games with a locative element, digital or otherwise) and design strategies, mechanics, and reward systems. We started off with a list of these items that I had gathered from earlier reading, and added more items and other details on the whiteboard through our discussion. Amber Case made a spreadsheet from the whiteboard notes: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en&hl=en&key=0Asy5qINtkUStdEZPeE5mODVIa1hCV2tlOUFPZ3JxTkE&output=html
We couldn’t talk about games without playing a few, of course. Amber and Aaron ran a couple of demos of MapAttack, which is built on their GeoLoqi platform, and lets two teams compete for points by capturing dots while running around outside. At another session I was introduced to Dokobots, an iPhone game involving lost robots who crashlanded on Earth and have to be found and re-activated and sent off to explore things.
WhereCampPDX will be returning again this year as well. We’re tentatively scheduled for October 7-8-9 and ought to have more details on the site soon.
I hosted a session at WhereCampPDX this weekend on Portland, technology, and economic development.
I started things off by suggesting a theory: that Portland’s history as a timber town has influenced our approach to economic development, in ways that are no longer useful as we switch from a physical commodity-driven economy to a digital one. I also talked a little about the tendency for investment and customers to be outside of Portland, causing money to flow into and out of the economy, but not move around inside Portland’s tech economy (we do spend our money on other kinds of local goods and services).
Participants helped build a list of things we know about working in timber vs. working in tech, then we talked through what the effects of these things are, and what we might do about it. Here’s what we came up with:
* semi-limited renewable resource
* fungible/tradeable commodity
* global market – externally facing
* hard to obsolete
* no 2.0? (low innovation rate)
* high startup cost/time (have to grow the trees)
* usually organized labor
* doesn’t travel (you can’t take your trees elsewhere)
* maybe a commodity
* maybe specialized
* global market
* can be an internally or externally facing market
* rapidly changing
* low startup cost
* not much labor organization
* travels well
Side effects (what happens in the local economy as a result?)
* Regional cash flow problems
* Can we grow?
* Needs replanting
* Needs the right culture
* Tech moves internally (inside the local community)
* Cash doesn’t
* We build relationships around the tech-sharing
* But not around the cash transactions
* Business and tech people don’t speak the same language
* Risk aversion: tech is easy to share, cash is hard
* Differences in barriers to entry (are these being addressed?)
Lessons/goals (what do we want to do about this?)
* need structures for investing $$$ in community tech
* business mentoring (another camp?)
* companies should invest in the community’s tech skills
* keep projects open
* share knowledge locally
* more exposure to local products and marketplace
* local hiring marketplace
* expose businesses to local tech assets
* more directories
* programmer fund: let’s pool money to invest
* fund projects based on community value
* bring management from companies into the practitioner community (take your boss to the user group meeting)
In fact, the event went extremely well. I think this qualifies as the most successful WhereCamp in Portland yet. We had around 120 attendees from Portland and throughout the U.S. I’m completely exhausted now, but it was worth it.
More notes to follow soon, here and on the WhereCampPDX blog.
Photo by Paige Saez
The second annual WhereCampPDX is coming up in just a week and a half. I’m really happy to be helping plan this again. Last year’s event was a great mix of location tracking ideas, games, food system discussions, and planning for community preparedness.
What’s in store this time? Friday, October 2nd, we kick off with a party at Gallery Homeland. Come meet people, talk about session ideas, try another round of the Arrivals game we invented for last year’s event. Please RSVP (helps us plan food/drink/chairs) on Upcoming.
Then, Saturday morning, we’ll have the unconference session kickoff at the Metro Regional Center at 9am, with sessions running all day. Add yourself to the attendee list on the wiki now, and browse or add to the session idea list.
Saturday night we’ll have pizza and hacking at PIE in the Pearl District. Bring your project, or just an idea for something you’d like to try, and find other people to collaborate with. Calagator, Geomena, and maybe even Shizzow are all likely to be represented there.
On Sunday we’ll wrap up with a day of games. PacManhattan is scheduled for a repeat run. We’re also considering geocaching, a mapping walk, scavenger hunts, and other fun. Check the blog for an updated schedule closer to the event.
See you there!
WhereCamp PDX is coming up at the end of next week, Oct. 17-19. If you’ll be attending, take a minute to RSVP on Upcoming so we can plan for food.
In addition to sessions at Souk on Saturday and Sunday, we’re having a kick-off party at the Olympic Mills Building from 4-7pm on Friday. And for extra fun on Sunday, we’ll be running a set of urban and locative games. I’ll be leading a session of Cruel 2B Kind, a game that involves assassinating people with kindness. We’ll have details on how to sign up for this on the WhereCamp site soon.
I’m planning to do a session on Saturday about mapping food, so if you’ve been following the Ravenous threat for Superstruct, I hope you’ll join that discussion as well. Start thinking about your own session ideas now. Do you want to talk about location-enabled phone apps? The psychology of place? Open standards for geographic data? Anything on the people-place-technology spectrum is open for inclusion.
If you’re wondering how else you can help make WhereCamp PDX awesome, come to one of our last two planning meetings: tonight, 6:30PM at Produce Row, and the same time and place next Wednesday (the 15th).
I’ve been working on updating the food cart map lately, with the help of my fabulous assistant (and brother), Peter. He collected all the food cart lists I had, combined and cleaned up data, and created printable maps of three cart zones in the downtown area.
So now comes some field work: figuring out whether the dots on the map match where the carts really are. If you’d like to help with this, go to http://drop.io/pdx_food_carts, grab a copy of any or all of the maps, and take it with you next time you go to one of the cart areas for lunch. Mark any changes, and either email it to me or just give me your annotated map at an upcoming event (like this weekend’s From Side Project to Startup).
Once that’s done, we’ll push the updates to the current map page, and work on providing a better interface for locating carts across Portland.
The other piece of my current geogeekery is organizing the upcoming WhereCamp PDX. We now have a date: Oct. 17th-19th, and a place: Souk in NW Portland. We’ll be having a kick-off party on the night of the 17th, sessions all day at Souk on the 18th, and a combination of more sessions and locative games out around town on the 19th. If you’d like to be involved in the planning process, join our mailing list: http://groups.google.com/group/wherecamp-pdx. We’re also looking for sponsors. Contact me if you’re interested.
This past weekend I attended WhereCamp, an unconference on all things geo-technology. I had a very fun time talking to everyone and camping in my Google tent.
I led two sessions: one on community-building and socializing with location-aware tools, and another the second day on social practice software, a term Anselm suggested to describe how we’re building Calagator.
- Good group of Portland folks there. Me, Paige, Anselm, Jason and the Platial team, three people from TriMet, in all maybe a dozen of us.
- I bugged the TriMet team with all my burning questions about the tech side of what they’re doing. I hadn’t realized that they were such a key player in getting Google Transit started. These people need a blog. There’s a info about what they’re up to at http://developer.trimet.org/, and they’re really interested in hearing about anything people are doing with the API. I think I managed to convince Bibiana, the project manager, that they need to host a Portland TransitCamp. There’s some cool stuff they’re working on, and I’d love to see the local community collaborating more.
- Open Street Map. I first heard about them in 2006 when they gathered people to map the Isle of Wight. It’s easy to take access to geographic data for granted when you’re in the US, but not every country treats it as public property. If you’re not familiar with this project, go read.
- Andrew Turner and Seth Fitzsimmons led a lively session on privacy. The second half of the notes for this have a great summary of the current state of geo-privacy issues, which we talked through with the six de bono hats methodology.
- Dave Troy presented a neat way of encoding location data called geohash. It turns your lat/long into a single alphanumeric string. The cool thing here is that as you lose characters from the right side, the sequence remains valid at a lower accuracy, describing a larger and larger bounding box. I could see this being really useful for a site that had location urls matching some collection of data. it’s human-editable enough that people could expand the search area just by editing the url.
- NNDB does data visualization of the connections between people, that you can browse and edit. Best part: graphing conspiracy theories.
- Rich Gibson brought his Gigapan camera. It’s interesting to look at the results from smaller and larger spaces.
I think we really, absolutely need to have a WhereCamp Portland. Let’s say in October. There’s just too much interesting mapping and location-geekery happening here to not do it. Who wants to help make this happen?