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Deliriously Enthusiastic about Mobile Portland on Monday

By Jason Grigsby

Published on March 26th, 2011


Mobile Portland is Monday, March 28th at 6 pm. Details and RSVP.

I’m excited about Mobile Portland nearly every month, but this month’s topic is something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.

Last spring, I wandered into Renny Gleeson’s session at WebVisions not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know Renny well at the time, but we had had a couple of interesting conversations which made me curious.

Renny standing in front of a picture of the CellScope during his 2010 WebVisions talk

His session was called World Changing Brands and claimed to “peer into the future to see if advertising can change the world.” Frankly, that didn’t bode well for me as an advertising-skipping Tivo user. But there was a hint that he might have something up his sleeve with an abstract that included the question “can we ‘hack the channels’ and help brands do well AND do good?”

Renny’s talk blew me away.

After the talk, I begged for his slides. I talked to anyone I could about his idea of corporations as platforms for social change. I pulled Sara Winge aside at Open Web Foo Camp and walked her through Renny’s slides because I thought the concepts were similar enough to Tim O’Reilly’s idea of government as a platform that I thought O’Reilly might be interested.

Because many of Renny’s examples were mobile, I’ve been looking for a good opportunity to have him talk at Mobile Portland.

That opportunity suddenly presented itself this month when our neighbors at Uncorked Studios started working on a very important project called is a website that collects radiation readings in Japan and plots them on a map. And while it started with a small idea of finding a way to help out and a two-day development sprint, I’ve watched it turn into much more than that.

The phenomenal folks at Uncorked Studios have put their lives on hold as they collaborate with people around the world to collect better data, understand the meaning of the data they’ve collected, and be responsible stewards of information that can overwhelm and frighten us.

Recently, Marcelino Alvarez, Uncorked Studios; Raven Zachary, Small Society; Dave Howell, Avatron Software, and I took a road trip to Hood River to talk to the Gorge Technology Alliance about mobile technology.

As I watched Marcelino shift from talking about the mobile apps that Uncorked Studios had built to talking about the project, I realized that was a sibling to the projects that Renny had highlighted last spring. It was another example of people taking information, technology and products and mashing them up in ways that no one had anticipated in an attempt to help others.

During Marcelino’s talk, I envisioned how bringing Renny’s big concept talk together with Marcelino’s real world example would be an awesome Mobile Portland event. But lining up two busy people is a challenge—especially on short notice and when one of them is on vacation.

But thankfully everything came together for Monday and what promises to be an exceptional Mobile Portland event. Thanks to Marcelino and Renny for making it happen.

As stumbled to find the words for a title to this post that would describe how excited I was, I found myself thinking about what my friend Josh Clark had written in an email about another grand, but unrelated idea:

LOVE it. Color me deliriously enthusiastic (a rather bright orange) about this idea.

I’m going to glowing a rather bright orange between now and Monday night when Renny and Marcelino finish speaking. I hope you will join me at Mobile Portland on Monday. It’s going to be excellent.