Portland has been on my must visit list for quite a while, so I was delighted to learn that coordinators were 'putting a bird on it' and holding this year's FOSS4G in PDX! Last year's FOSS4GNA in Minneapolis was a great experience, so I applied for a scholarship and hoped I could make it happen. The scholarship didn't pan out, but I was generously given a place on the team of conference volunteers, and a friend offered his place to me for the week. I also found RT airfare for under $300 ... Rose City here I come! I flew out early to meet my cheerful host & attend a Timbers soccer match with fellow conference goers. I was blown away by the number of fans and the infectious enthusiasm of the Timber Army - such fun! Each time the Timbers scored a goal, the lumberjack would saw a piece of the Timber log. It was the first time I have seen a chainsaw at a soccer match! The chant sheets brought it to the next level! It was a fun crew, and we enjoyed a long day of Timber magic, local beers, and dinner at Deschutes Brewery.
The conference was preceded by two days of workshops (at $150 a session), so instead I rented a Brompton fold-up bike and explored the City. It's a bike-friendly place, particularly the trails along the Wilamette River. Tuesday was the JS.Geo conference, so I biked over to Portland State to check it out. On the way, I got my bike tire caught in the trolley tracks and had an ugly spill - I showed up in torn pants, covered in blood... Highlights of the day were the fun, witty crowd, the future of Leaflet, and mapping in 3D with Cesium. And not spilling the contents of my skull onto the streets of Portland...
The next 3 days was the annaul FOSS4G - “the world’s premier open source geospatial conference” - at the Convention Center. It was an easy bike ride over one of the many bridges from the Pearl neighborhood. Over the past year I have become more comfortable as an amateur developer, met a few more people in the geo community, and moved forward with Boomerang, so I was excited to find new challenges and meet more of the community. Keynote Mike Bostock was an inspiration to the 900 attendees, and set a high bar for the rest of the week. It was an international group, with approximately 13% women. There were 8 simultaneous tracks, and I had a difficult time choosing!
I began my first day as a volunteer, which was a wonderful way to meet people and get the lay of the land. The conference was very well run, and each talk was recorded so you could feel free to linger in conversation or try something new. I leaned towards the education-related talks, and drew inspiration from quite a few people. Talks on drones/UAVs, offline mapping, and vector tiling seemed to draw large crowds, and projection jokes were en vogue. I heard fewer "simples" than last year and took away quite a to-do list. Despite a few instances of gender bias, I felt like I am definitely becoming a part of the global geo-community.
There was no shortage of things to do outside of the conference as well. With field trips, a code sprint, a welcome party, maptime party, and a gala to attend there were sufficient opportunities to make connections and discuss all things geo. Or, you could just relax and sample the many great beers and delectable treats Portland has to offer! The food truck pods certainly won me over, as did the live music, friendly people, and delightful 80 degree weather!
Saturday I enjoyed a hike in Forest Park (which I'd highly recommend) and dinner in the City with a new friend from the conference. Sunday included a drive to the Columbia River Gorge to hike and have brunch with a friend who flew in from Seattle. I even snuck in a drive to the coast and dinner with relatives down in Salem. It's a gorgeous area, and Portland was a difficult place to leave. It has moved up on my list of livable places!
Couldn't make it? Watch the sessions here. Other blogs about the conference include Mapbrief & Boundlessgeo. Want to go next year? FOSS4G 2015 will be in Seoul, South Korea!
On a last minute whim, I decided to spend the day with 200 other geospatial enthusiasts in DC @fedgeoday.... and came away totally pumped. Hosted in the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, I was initially enticed by the description, which read:"Open source applications are changing GIS, cartography, web mapping, and map publishing, throwing open the door of what's possible in geo. This one day conference will introduce you to these tools, show you what you can do with them, and walk through how and why government agencies are using them to dramatically improve their mapping, cartography, and GIS projects." How could I resist? Map Box, Tile Mill, CartoDB, OpenStreetMap, PostGIS, Open Geo... all of these progressive thinkers and creators in one place? Count me in.
As I continue to dive deeper into the world that is geospatial, it is becoming more and more apparent that open source is the future... and today just reinforced this belief. Its faster, cheaper, and most importantly there is growing opportunity. In the near future, gone will be the day that a GIS Specialist sits in her office wishing for datasets to magically appear in her inbox, nicely organized as shapefiles... with metadata! Through the hard work of the OS community, data is becoming more accessible and visualizations easier to develop. With pared down processing and back-end development, people can map and visualize simply and sustainably. I can't think of any industry or organization whom this cannot benefit. Bottom line, I'm glad I spent MARC fare and joined the fun. I met many wonderful people today, and I'm extremely excited to play a larger role in the Open Source world. Oh - and I think I saw about 15 or 20 other women there! Rock on ladies.
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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