Mashing Up The Fraternal Order of Stumptown Hackers

Geoff Kleinman, writing on looks back at the Web 1.0 tech boom that took place a decade ago and sees similarities to today.

He also looks forward and wonders if an insular community can step up and out for their own benefit.

The brutal truth is that 2009 is going to be an extremely rough year for many people in the community. Local companies have just started layoffs and a lot more are on the horizon. Great adversity can create great opportunities for a community to come together, support each other and find ways to use that community strength to grow. But for the Portland Tech Community to be relevant it takes more than just coming together. If the goal is to ‘put Oregon tech on the map’ then it’s going to take crossing the lines and reaching out to local businesses, involving people from outside the tight knit community and working together to create relevant national stories about Portland and tech.

As I attend various tech events in Portland, people invariably ask me, “How are you connected to all this?” It’s an innocent question for the most part.

The other day, I told one developer that I’m not connected. That I moved to Portland in August and I come to town with a history in, and interest in, marketing technology. Of course, that bit of information makes me something other than an engineer—a person who makes things! So, as I reflect on Kleinman’s call to action, I think yes, the engineers might want to warm up to people from my profession. Not all ad men are exploiters. Some of us are, in fact, as idealistic as the hackers who’ve made it their business to change the world.

University of Oregon Working to Establish Itself In Downtown Portland

University of Oregon Working to Establish Itself In Downtown Portland

Cross the Burnside Bridge into downtown Portland and you will be greeted by one of the most iconic neon signs in existence. It says, “Made in Oregon” and features a leaping stag whose nose cheerfully turns red during the holiday season.

The sign was first constructed by the White Satin Sugar Company in 1940. It was changed in 1957 to read “White Stag” by White Stag Sportswear. The Naito family, owners of the Made in Oregon chain, again rebranded the sign in 1995.

This is where it gets interesting. Made in Oregon is a brand name and prominent retail business in Oregon. But the phrase “Made in Oregon” is a mantra that all Oregonians can relate to and embrace. So, it’s a particularly positive piece of branding that has transcended commerce and become a civic landmark.

Now, University of Oregon, a tenant in the White Stag Building where the neon sign is perched wants to modify the text of the sign to read “University of Oregon.” See WWire for a sketch of the proposed changes.

According to Portland Business Journal, there’s resistance to the change from residents of Portland and city officials, some of whom attended Portland State University (presumably Oregon State grads would have a say in this, as well).

It’s hard to fault O of U for pursuing the change. It’s a bold move, but one that would clearly help build their brand after the dust up washes out to sea. At the same time, it’s hard to support U of O in this, since the existing sign works for everyone, not just Ducks.