January 13th, 2012 12:18 pm | by RUTH BROWN Features | Posted In: Willamette Geek

Willamette Geek: The Bitchy World of Portland Tech Blogging

Willamette Geek is WW's column for nerdy news and events around Portland: gaming, tech, comics, conventions, sci fi, teh interwebs and other pursuits of the intellectually superior.

For several years, Portland's burgeoning tech scene was only covered in any depth by one blog, Silicon Florist. Written by Rick Turcozy, the co-founder of the Portland Incubator Experiment (a.k.a. PIE), it documents the goings on and successes of Portland's tech start ups. Turcozy describes it as a "Kind of a Willamette Week for the Portland tech scene" though I'd probably call it more a Food Carts Portland for the tech scene: Turcozy is, by his own admission, a cheerleader for Portland start-ups, and criticism and analysis isn't really part of its M.O.

In 2011, two sites appeared hoping to redress the balance.

The first was All Things Critical, created by cascadia.fm founder and Portland Sucks podcaster Robert Wagner. It ultimately ran for one month, with under a dozen posts, mostly focussed on PIE and problems at the Software Association of Oregon.

The second was the cleverly titled Silicon Lumberjack, an anonymous blog with a missions statement of "If Portland's technology industry wants to succeed, we have to learn to fail without covering it up. Let's clear the rot out of the forest and move on."

In its three-month run, SL also raised questions about the SOA and PIE, as well as the Portland Seed Fund, Angel Oregon, PDX11, and multiple posts on WW's June 8 cover story, "Tech Wizards of Silicon Forest."

Both sites received a reasonable amount of attention in the local tech community, not just for the "anonymous gossip" factor, but also because they did discuss real issues and problems that were not being covered anywhere else.

Both blogs have been inactive for months. Then last week, Wagner revealed that he was Silicon Lumberjack. Sort of.

During my short time writing All Things Critical I was contacted repeatedly via email and blog comments by a large number of anonymous individuals, a trend that I wrote about on the site itself shortly before I stopped posting on it. While I never bothered to take the time to fully investigate who these individuals were, it seemed extremely likely that they were affiliated with the original Silicon Lumberjack Tumblr account, perhaps even the authors themselves.


I got fed up and then I decided to get even.

I registered the domain siliconlumberjack.com, I set up a website and Gmail address, and I created a Twitter account. Within about 48 hours anyone who was following the anonymous Tumblr account pretty much figured “oh look, those idiots got a website” – I even pulled in their RSS feed in hopes that it would get someone, anyone to come forward using a real name and complain about it. Despite the fact that a large percentage of the tech community here had already dismissed the Tumblr account due to its anonymous nature, I wanted to push it even further into the abyss of worthlessness. And I wanted the people behind it to lose their voice completely if they weren’t willing to stand behind the things they had to say.

And then I started writing my own posts.

Wagner says he's coming clean because he plans to resume blogging on the tech scene again. We hope to see the soap opera continue.
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