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PDX notable moments so far

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 by billsimmon in Digital Culture, friends, Life of Bill, movies, music, people I want to get drunk with, social media, the nerd life, VCAM | 10 Comments

I have a lot of free time today… hours and hours in fact, so I’m going to try and sum up the noteworthy events of the lest several days of my trip in chronological order:

Wednesday 7/15:

  • Flew from BTV to PDX. Arrived at 1AM local time. Sat next to ACM sisters and brothers from Great Neck and The Bronx, NY on the plane.
  • There was little food to be found anywhere near the hotel. Had to scavenge.

Thursday 7/16:

  • First day of the ACM conference. Pleased to run into Elliot Margolies right away, whom I remembered fondly from past ACM events (check out his interviews with PEG luminaries here).
  • Attended a panel on the Denver Open Media Project, which was the buzz of the conference from my perspective.
  • Lunch at a lovely Vietnamese place with Spine.
  • Following the conference I met up with my (ex girl) friend Deb for drinks. Spine joined us after he got out of work. (Note: most of my old friends here have become athletes — planning for marathons and triathlons and talking about running/biking half of the time.)
  • Ended the day by taking in the new Harry Potter film by myself (Bear elected to stay in), which was surprisingly good.

Friday 7/17:

  • ACM day two. The morning session was about building sustainability through documentary work. It was an inspiring panel and I came away with lots of notes to try and implement at VCAM.
  • Got interviewed by Elliot for his afore mentioned interview series. Talked about videoblogging classes at VCAM, social media outreach and New Media Office Hours.
  • Lunch with Spine, Carolyn and little Jolie at an Ethiopian place.
  • In the afternoon I went to a (literal) nuts and bolts presentation on video engineering. I left early because I was losing steam and not getting much out of it.
  • Bear and I attended the Hometown Video Awards, at which Bear accepted RETN’s Overall Excellence award. We were seated at the same table with Bill Nolan, author of Logan’s Run.
  • After the awards, We avoided the inevitable karaoke. Bear went back to the hotel and I hooked up with Daniell from Telvue and Forrest from Manhatten Neighborhood Network. Thus began my long evening with ACM 2.0 folks — the young guard of community media — comprised of Denver Open Media whiz kids and 20 & 30-something staffers from NY, MA and OR. A hotel room at the Ace Hotel in downtown PDX (coincidentally where I’m typing this post right now) was our locale, and as Daniell said the next day, what happens at the Ace Hotel stays at the Ace Hotel (but of course, I have video).
  • I made it back to my hotel at 2AM or so and learned there was a shooting nearby and that Snoop Dog was apparently staying at my hotel (these two events were unrelated as far as I know). Spent 30 minutes relaxing with some ACMers in the lobby before crawling into bed for a short nap before morning.

Saturday 7/18:

  • The tension between old guard ACM and the new young turks was palpable at the morning session on open source community media centers of the future, but the moderator (Tony from Denver Open Media) was really great at threading that needle (though his co-presenters were less diplomatic). There is some understandable fear of technological change from traditional CMC folks and some reluctance to embrace a new model of organizing staff and resources — particularly a model that so fervently eschews traditional relationships with technology. It may take some time to sink in, but the DOMP folks “get it” and some older guard folks just don’t quite yet… but they’re coming around.
  • The 2nd session I attended was on copyright and creative commons. The presenter was funny and smart, but the information was mostly review for me.
  • The keynote luncheon was a panel and I got some good leads there on possible relationships for VCAM to foster and I really think we should have a presence at NAMAC in August.
  • Hooked up with Spine in the afternoon and picked up XJ3 and prepped for our excursion to a big outdoor rock show featuring Andrew Bird and The Decemberists. It was beautiful.
  • We followed the rock show by heading to a bar where a friend of Spine’s and XJ3′s was celebrating her 40th birthday. I saw a few folks I’d met on previous trips out here and had some yummy mixed drinks.
  • We ended the night at a fries cart where I randomly ran into my friend Craig from Amherst Community Television. I enjoy bumping into friends in other cities. It makes me feel connected to things.

Sunday 7/19:

  • Slept in, playing catch-up on lost sleep from the previous couple of days.
  • Went to brunch with Spine at a great place called The Tin Shed. Best veggie gravy and biscuits ever. Went shopping in a little bohemian district of boutiques and comics shops.
  • In the afternoon we met up with XJ3 and Susan at an outdoor theater-in-the-park performance of the classic Trek episode Amok Time. We had great seats and I shot some video, which I’ll post later (it’s on a HD at Spine’s). It was a crowd pleaser. We met up with my old friend Laura there and made plans to reconvene at her place in SE PDX that evening.
  • Laura and Adam hosted a lovely summer evening dinner of gazpacho, berries and greens with lots of yummy beer. Deb, XJ3, Spine and some of Laura and Adam’s neighbors enjoyed the cool summer evening together in the back yard. We called it an early evening because Spine had to work the next morning.

Monday 7/20:

  • Slept in again (ah… vacation) and spent the day in St. Johns where Spine’s house is. Wandered the village a bit and made lunch in Spine’s kitchen. Read the first volume of Y The Last Man (purchased the previous day).
  • Drove Spine’s car into town to meet Spine and take the train downtown to a showing of Moon with XJ3. It was excellent — better than expected even.
  • Post-film dinner and discussion was fun and delicious. Said goodbyes to XJ3 and entreated he and Susan to visit Vermont soon.

Tuesday 7/21:

  • Today Spine is having his bathroom redone so I left the house with him in the morning and I’ve been spending the day in downtown PDX. Thinking about a matinee, depening on start times.
  • Bought a copy of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (finally) and read more than half of it at Powells.
  • Our evening plans remain unknown.

I’m taking the red eye home tomorrow night. It will be good to be back in Vermont, despite the despicable weather there this summer (all the more annoying in comparison to Portland’s dry, sunny, breezy summer). See you All back east!



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  1. On July 21, 2009, Spine said:

    I don’t think I realized how eventful the last few days have been until I saw them in bulleted lists!

  2. On July 21, 2009, Colin said:

    Thanks for the review of the ACM conference, Bill! I wish I was there, so it was great to read what you had to say.

  3. On July 21, 2009, Alex C said:

    So was it you or Spine who said “Moon, O Moon / So bright and bug quickly” first?

  4. On July 23, 2009, Keith said:

    Since is was me that exploded the thing on Saturday morning I may as well chime in as the “don’t quite get it” old guard. Which is exactly wrong. You guys are manifesting the dream of the old guard using new technology. We ain’t scared of the change, what we are wrestling with is the fact that there is no turn-key here and Media Centers are dropping off like freaking flies. We are running out of time and resources while pulling our heads out of the asses of old models. We all want this to happen and we are all on the same side…

  5. On July 24, 2009, billsimmon said:


    Thanks for commenting!

    While it was Saturday’s panel I was referring to, I had this feeling throughout the whole conference — and my describing it as old vs. new was admittedly simplistic. I don’t mean to pigeon hole anyone — I know we’re all on the same side. :)

    And to be fair, the questions coming at DOM folks from the “old guard” at the session on Saturday were perfectly fine questions — much of the tension I sensed resulted from the reactions to those questions from the open source evangelists, which were sometimes impolitic (one poor questioner had his question actually mocked).

    I think if someone sits down and spends some hours creating some marketing materials for the Open Media Project, a lot of the concern and frustration will ebb away. Like anything new, comfort will come with use and familiarity.

  6. On July 27, 2009, Keith said:

    Thanks for commenting on my comment. I have been digging around quite a bit and am looking forward to learning more and writing up what I learn. We have to remember that there will be a “middle” period. A functioning access center will never abandon FCP for Kden overnight. I mentioned going open source to my IT guy (25yrs old) and you’d have thought I struck him in the face with a live salmon.

  7. On July 27, 2009, billsimmon said:

    It’s funny you mention FCP and Kden. That was the part of the presentation I really disagreed with. The fact that we train on FCP is a marketing boon for us at VCAM — we get folks through the door for that alone quite often. I went back and forth with PetePO about this the night before the panel and I remain unconvinced that Kden can replace all the benefits of FCP/Avid (for now). That said, embracing the open source philosophy in general is a positive goal for PEG to have.

  8. On July 28, 2009, petepo said:

    I feel all of you – your ideas of what makes a center successful are probably different than mine. Honestly I’ve never known two people in the Community Media world to have the same idea of what a successful center is. One resource that I found really helpful when coming to the open source conclusions I have come to is The Cathedral and the Bazaar:

    I want centers to make informed decisions about what direction they’re taking when it comes to resource allocation and to look at the return on their investments. It’s nice to hear that you are making informed and targeted decisions to go with paid software.

  9. On July 28, 2009, billsimmon said:

    Pete! Thanks for chiming in. Good meeting you in PDX and if you make it to Vermont ever, be sure to drop me a line so I can buy you many beers.

    You wrote: I’ve never known two people in the Community Media world to have the same idea of what a successful center is.

    Really? Maybe you could elaborate on that. I’ve been in the community media world (as a producer/staffer/board member/enthusiast) for 18+ years and I’ve found that CMCs have much more in common, philosophically, than not. There are differences in policy and a diversity of where emphasis is placed, but the broad strokes are pretty much consistent in my experience — free (“content neutral”) speech, non-commercial, partnerships with non-profits, media literacy emphasis and a strong educational/training piece.

    I think PEG has been slow to get ahead of the tech curve w/r/t web 2.0 and “new media” (when we really ought to be leaders in that space) but it depends of the specific center and I think that’s changing now.

    Now I really want to know what defines a successful center in your mind. I take as read all of the above plus an active and diverse user base. What else makes a center successful in your mind? Can you point to examples of centers that are getting it right?

    I’m shilling for a panel at SXSW next year that’s about building community through media & media centers so your thoughts would really be helpful.

  10. Bill,

    In all honesty if I found the perfect community media center I’d be there in an instant. There are centers that are getting something things right and I agree that most centers (although I’ve worked at centers that don’t) have the major pillars of cable access close to their hearts.

    I started a blog entry that I plan on updating for the next month or so on what would exist in a perfect world:

    Doubt that I’d ever be able to get something like this off the ground but it’s good to dream…

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