|| Print ||
|Thursday, April 25, 2013|
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The first WebVisions conference took place in Portland in 2001 and drew 150 people. Twelve years later, the annual conference, aimed at exploring the future of the web, attracts about 1,200 people from around the world; there are also Webvisions events in 4 U.S. cities and Barcelona. This year, Webvisions is also the driving force behind The Wild, a two week event debuting in May designed to explore the frontiers of art, culture and technology,
One month before WebVisions Portland 2013 — and The Wild — I sat down with WebVisions executive director Brad Smith, also the proprietor of Portland-based Hot Pepper Studios, a web, print and film design agency.
Dressed head to toe in black, sporting orange framed glasses and a gold hoop earring, Smith embodied the spirit of Webvisions and its various spinoffs: the merging of the tech and creative class. On a gorgeous sunny day, he chatted briefly about the evolution of the conference, the blurring of the line between techies and designers, and how this convergence will transform the business world.
OB: In the past few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of creative tech events and conferences, including TEDX, South by Southwest (SXSW), which unfolds and the convergence of music, film and emerging technologies. Is there a glut of such conferences? Where does Webvisions fit into the mix?
Smith: We’re a midsize event and we’re doing it out of passion for community building. Those aren’t just words. I get a chill. People are so excited to meet people from other places. There is a great influx of people who want to understand how local communities fit into the global economy.
OB: How has WebVisions evolved over the years?
Smith: Because there are lots of events, we now always have to work to push the event in new ways. We do a mix of things: short sessions, keynotes. We have Paypal’s Bill Scott talking about Lean UX, we have DIY crafting sessions, and we bring in young people like Catlin Gabel and Cleveland high school's robotics teams. We do something called Hackathons for Social Good, in which programmers and designers work collaboratively to build programs and applications for nonprofits in 12 hours. It’s great to have the outcome in one day. These are all things that push the initiative in different ways.
OB: And now you’ve launched yet another initiative: the Wild:
Smith: We’re trying to create mainstream events that will draw people from out of town. We're trying to create a SXSW experience in Portland and then take it to other cities. WebVisions attracts people from all over. With The Wild, we’re really focusing on local talent, artists, makers, writers.
OB: Indeed, tech culture is no longer the exclusive domain of software and hardware geeks.
Smith: When we started WebVisions, our audience was 90% male. Now we’re 50-50 gender split, and we have people of all ages attending. Everyone used to look like techies but that’s changing. We're seeing that in fashion, with the popularity of geek chic. Culturally, everything is merging.
OB: What are the business implications?
Smith: Breaking down boundaries between tech and design is part of the next wave of how businesses will work. For example, we had a session called UX for Aliens. It sounds silly. But actually, in a globalized world, we are designing for ‘aliens’: consumers and businesses in other countries and other cultures. Our thinking is if we can give tech people a little design and designers a little tech knowledge, suddenly we have this understanding, this shattering of barriers that will allow people to be smarter about how they do business.
OB: Last year you added Barcelona as a WebVisions venue.
Smith: Spain is going through a very bad time. People are saying they don’t want to go through boom and bust cycle; how do we participate in the global economy. That's part of the WebVisions mission. We want to set up trade and cultural exchanges with people in different places. So we've introduced people from Barcelona to Weiden + Kennedy and others.
OB: One of the WebVisions' sessions next month is titled: "The future of the web is video." You yourself started out as a documentary film maker in New York, decamped to Portland in 1991 for the lifestyle, then started a company and conference built around the future of the web. Is your life coming full circle?
Smith: My philosophy with the agency and WebVisions is to include as many things as possible. If you’re doing a website, doing a video and a book at the same time is a lot less expensive than doing them separately. So (Hot Pepper) built a niche on cross channel platforms, and we see that expansion of boundaries in WebVisions.
Linda Baker keeps tabs on CEO and public policy issues, with frequent forays into innovation and entrepreneurship.
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Matt French opens up South Waterfront.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
BY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.
Monday, January 26, 2015
The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A place-based multimodal transportation plan for Mt. Hood is long overdue.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.
Real Time - Oregon Business
Tweets by @OregonBusiness
|Will Medford Ever Be Cool?|
|The Carbon Calculus|
|Raising the Stakes|
|The Human Factor|
|Which Way to Chinatown?|
|GDP grows 2.6 percent in 4Q|
|Email scammers target younger demographic|
|McDonalds' head man steps down|
|Washington company recalls tainted beef|
|Commercial jet demand bolsters Boeing |
|Apple augments record quarter by shorting memory|
|Microsoft, Caterpillar woes lead Dow decrease|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
hubbub health uses behavior change science to rethink wellness programs.
In Ashland, a public-private partnership results in online resources to help diversify the local economy.
How sports tourism is driving economic growth and making cities across Oregon a better place to live.
If you have given a former employee access to your company’s electronic information by virtue of assigning a desktop or laptop computer and you suspect he or she of having taken electronically stored data, there are several steps to follow to preserve electronic forensic evidence from spoliation.
The official launch will be Jan. 14.
In a switch on the traditional trade show, representatives from UO departments and local and state agencies will host tables to connect with businesses and vendors. The fourth Reverse Vendor Fair will take place Wednesday, Feb. 25, in Eugene.