Bram Pitoyo, Etc., Interlude

Why Non Geeks Should Go To This Weekend’s BarCamp Portland

I’m a newcomer in Portland tech community. Actually, no, I’d rather call myself a ‘n00b.’ Except that that would make me be perceived as more of a geek than I would like to otherwise, but on to the topic.

I don’t work with technology for a living, nor do I belong in a startup company. I am, by trade, a Brand Strategist, which in a nutshell involve talking with people to find out how a product or service can better serve them. I am secretly a nerd, too, but with dismal technical ability* (in an uh, what exactly does ‘ls -l’ does in Terminal? kind of way,) I stand no chance with all this programmers, developers and tech workers.

But I decided to attend all these events anyway, from Mobile Portland, Portland Web Innovators, Beer and Blog, Innotech to Ignite Portland (check out the review series if you plan to attend one.)

This is where it gets interesting.

Because I learned that, while this community is united by technology, they don’t speak geek all the time. My preemptive judgment about great, now they’re going to stuff me silly with xHTML or can we please stop talking about data portability tonight? was quickly shed and replaced with living and saving for retirement as soon as possible, moving to Portland last month and surviving the rain, or why everything on the menu at Pho Green Papaya is amazing (credits to respective authors of these statements.)

But what’s even more amazing is the fact that I learned not just about what they do, but also why they wake up every morning do the things that they love, be it tech or not. I made a lot of new friends and get to taste the best pomme frites in town. So, all in all, it wasn’t that bad.

This eye-opening experience made me believe fimly that BarCamp is a gathering of people that may or may not work with technology, but are united by the fact that they are passionate about it (or another thing entirely, like, um, bikes.) For us non-geeks, I think that the value of attending BarCamp this weekend may not be about discovering how the geeks work, but about why they do what they do, why they love it, and what could we share together to make Portland a better place to live in.

Don’t go as a non-geek. Go as a human being. As spinner or yarns and connector of people. Go for the inspiration and flying sparks. The conversation and ideation.

Go as a Portvangelist. Bring your willingness to share, and prepare for the best. I hope you’re ready for a ride.**

* Todd Kenefsky had mentioned that, while I might not necessarily be a computer geek, I am one when the subject of typography pops in a conversation.
** (if by “ride” you mean “a night of Mario Kart and Werewolf.”)

Good night.