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Preview: PDX, Jim Dow on Careers, Work Cultures, Community & Technology

PDX, Jim Dow on Careers, Work Cultures, Community & Technology

"Gather 'round ye local PDX Gen X's & Y's and Baby Boomers! Exciting changes are possible in PDX: Careers, Workplace, Community and Technology - we do have control over our destiny" This blog is oriented around 4 related passions: Local Portland: Caree

Updated: 2016-08-24T08:26:02.297-07:00


Passion, Creativity, Technology: Solutions for What?


Passion about technology is contagious. We admire passionate and exciting people who are creating amazing technology solutions.

I admire myself when I can create something out of an idea :-)

Do we go the next step and ask why we admire them or why we don't question ourselves more?

Not really....because the real answers are embarrassing:
  • "Because I can, therefore I am and I have meaning." ...or
  • "See how much smarter than I am then you?" or....
  • "People will notice me..."

It's politically incorrect to even ask ourselves direct questions any more: avoid, smile, be charming; be the best, brightest, "rise to the top"...the top of what? The top of the hill? Shit rolls down hill...remember?

Even as an old guy, I can easily work straight 24 hour spurts to realize my creativity. I get very impatient when interrupted. Once my masterpiece is created: I feel very fulfilled...for about 2 days -- then real relationships need to be nurtured. My family and neighbors have needs that only I can fulfill...I find myself feeling inadequate at that point. While I can say I am indirectly contributing to our exploding economy (and an implosion of the wages for most people), the truth is that it's a drug I take at times to avoid growing up and thinking about other people.

Its all about creating more ways to distract ourselves and others from the gnawing ache in our hearts; the anxious thoughts that we don't know how to create solutions for our communities and our own relationship skills suffer.


So, I continue be excited about new technologies and passionate about creating, but I try not to fool myself. It is what it is: it's for my enjoyment and creative expression -- nothing to be obsessively passionate about.

What should I really be passionate about? What will really give me a sense of fullfilment and joy about life?

The answer is very naive and simple:

When we use our creativity, time and talents to help those around us, when we get to really know them, It fills the hole in our hearts. It is a peaceful and long-lasting fulfilment. Spreading the love causes a chain reaction that produces miracles: unsolvable community and global problems get solved one heart at a time.

Follow-up On Friendster: Bad Wallflower Karma...


Back in July of 2006 I made a short blog entry about Friendster's attempts to patent social networking software; haven't checked back until today on how our Friendster is doing:

Not surprisingly, someone's ego got the best of them. Pure ego, greed and hunger to shut out any competition, claim ultimate creator of all things social networking.... came back in an unpleasant karma.

Seems their patented social networking software is a performance loser: good "chrome" and time-to-market, but rusty under the hood and in the soul.

Here is a quote from a Harvard professor that now uses Friendster as a failure case study:

There is no single reason that explains Friendster’s failures, Professor Piskorski added, which is what makes it academic fodder. “It’s a power story,” he said. “It’s a status story. It’s an ego story.” But largely, he said, Friendster is a “very Silicon Valley story that tells us a lot about how the Valley operates.”

Full article and video Wallflower at the Web Party, New York Times, Oct 15th 2006.

Watch the Death of Friendster: Patent on Social Networking


See article on "Friendster Awarded Patent on Social Networking"

"The Death of Social Networking?" was the title of the news article I read today.

When asked whether licenses or lawsuits were likely, Friendster President Kent Lindstrom told, “it’s way too early to say…We’ll do what we can to protect our intellectual property.”
My final thoughts: Kent Lindstrom's comments are representative of almost every high-tech executive I have known. Thankfully, most of the younger generation are catching on. They understand that not all ideas, natural resources, and people can be owned by an elite few fighting to keep aristocratic rule alive a little bit longer.

We will do whatever we can to protect ourselves from people like you, Mr. Lindstrom -- we no longer buy services from your company; nor do we work for people like you any more.

My main comments below were recorded at

James Dow

  1. The Death of Friendster is what this is!!!! Social Networking and Collaboration is the spirit of open source and knowledge as public domain.

    Some of the young MBA entrepreneurs and attourneys out there need to understand that if you start playing the legal game of patents, you are are selling out just like most people in my baby-boom generation did. The old corporate model based on exclusive ownership is dying: exclusive property ownership and rights is anti-social and it is anti-global economy and anti-community.

    Good-bye Friendster - you traded in your passion and vision for old-fashioned fear of competition and want for more and more and more ownership of all the goodies in the world.

Diary of a Community Technology Advocate


Diary of a Community Technology Advocate

Excellent blog! We need more of us technologists out there creating new cultures, caring communities that fight to keep technology, education, health knowledge in the public domain --- all of the public.

PPS School Closures - Admitting Mistakes Will Be Too Late


I'm reflecting on the recent news by auditors (one since quit because of the lack of transparency of the School Board) of Portland Public Schools:
  • School Choice option and magnet schools are causing more segregation.
  • Administration mistakes put poor at the bottom of list for having a choice.
  • Superintendent admitting that this is serious and will get fixed.

So, parents blindly accept PPS decision to close schools and to be involved in a "Community Discussion" of school reconfiguration and academic improvement options (discussing the possibility of solutions that include keeping all neighborhood schools open -- NOT an option allowed by the PPS).

Should we maybe be concerned that the PPS is not really getting the best advice from outside consulting firms? Should we not be concerned that the Community Process is being heavily facilitated by someone not from Portland, OR or any community in Oregon?

I can hear the voices 2 years from now -- Vicki Phillips saying, "Yes, the closure of neighborhood schools and the impact to our neighborhoods and larger community -- this is a serious problem that will be addressed".

People are out there with best intentions to "leave no child behind " while trying to solve the school budget problems; being steered by outside influences --- the "consumers", parents and citizens of Portland, need to put on the emergency brake. A reality check is needed and an evaluation of the impact of closing neighborhoods schools needs to measured and monitored by an organization representing US.

PDX PPS Slick SE Community Discussion Tonight.."BAAAA...BAAA"


First PPS Professionally Facilitated SE Community Discussion a success? "BAAA...BAAAA"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Portland, ORCONTACT: Jim Dow, 503-502-0113A little background on the Portland Public School District Conversations (partial re-print of the news release):NEWS ADVISORY - May 24, 2006Contact: Sarah Carlin Ames, 503-916-3212, sames@pps.k12.or.usThe Board also voted to set in place community conversations to develop plans by October to: Improve student achievement, consider reconfiguration options and close one school building among six: Sellwood Middle School, the surrounding elementary schools (Duniway, Grout, Lewis and Llewellyn), and the Winterhaven K-8 focus option school, which is also in the area. (4 to 3) "More.....________________________________________________My First Community Conversation (observer)Tonight, I attended the first of several "community conversations" for the SE Portland Public School District. Wished I would have taken pictures with my little camera hidden in my Pocket PC; better still, I should have done a PodCast from the Sellwood gymnasium. It's 9:30pm after leaving the meeting. I'm exhausted or I would blog like a bat out of PPS hell on this.Sanitized Summary of My Derailed Thoughts:All attendees were polite.Professionally run by a PPS facilitator:skillful control was maintained at all times.Community encouraged to be proud that no schools were considered for closured because of academic performance: but one school building must close.Agenda moved quickly to consider all the wonderful options the community should take responsibility for reaching consensus.(this entire scenario is crafted to keep the 7 schools from uniting -- I wanted to hear, "hell school will go!!! We don't want our children left behind!!! ---One must be careful about appearing too radical and we must save our school first.)Keeping all the school buildings open: not one of the options - "Mandated by the School District Superintendent and School Board". 100 plus observers: gagged and polite community members in attendance.Recess: attendees asked to segregate to different locations in the Gymnasium to ask their community school representatives questions(mission accomplished -- block any unified front of to reject the options presented).Recess timed carefully: about 15 minutes left when recess was over.HAVING FUN AT RECESSDuring the recess, I trotted over to one of the other corralled school groups, "Hey, mind if I infiltrate? I was just reminding the people in my school representation that if each school goes back into that meeting into a discussion of the options offered to us, it is over...they win".They were friendly about it. Maybe because I was one of the few guys around and they were 12 women -- I could not be too dangerous, "No, we don't mind. But what do you mean?". This comment came from the obvious "alpha-female" ( there an alpha-female -- anyway, a leader)."I mean, does it not bother you that we have not been allowed to participate in the discussion about whether or not to close a school building was the only solution to a financial problem?".Alpha-woman gives me a very scary look. It was that sorry, we protect our own herd and may the richest herd win. What she said was, "As middle-class people we need to understand the financial crisis that the Portland Public School District is in. It is a very difficult situation and we must help, sacrifice and work together for a solution.".I kept the carefree, casual look going, but I could tell my voice was getting higher and quivery - I was not trying to be an alpha-female, "You mean you don't feel insulted that the SE community was not included in this process earlier? Don't you think we should have been part of that process to decide if a school should even close? You just accept the financial data they have without questioning all of the different reasons why a school must close and the [...]

The Village, Community & Disappearing Schools


Importance of Community, Public Education

I was reading about the Village Building Convergence ( sponsored event at my daughter's elementary school ( Lewis Elementary): a neighborhood school project that integrates garden-based education and village-building, place-based education. I'm hoping to get involved with that.

In the last month, I and my family have had the opportunity and privilege to participate in our immediate, local community and neighborhood school:

  • Talent Show
  • Lews Earth Day event where parents, teachers and volunteers from PSU.
  • An Art Night celebrating the fantastic artwork of our children and the inspiration they receive from local examples of art and nature.
  • Run for the Arts event where my daughter earned money for school art programs by running (walking laps around the school)

In 2007, This May All Go Away

Our local neighborhoods and the concept of community are being slowly whittled away and compromised by well-intended administrators that are creating centralized and impersonal solutions for public school funding challenges:

  • One SE elementary school will be closed: our SE neighborhoods are now competing against each other - neighbor pitted against neighbor - to make sure their school is not the one to close.

Parents & Neighbors of SE Districts 6 & 7: Say NO

Wouldn't it be nice if all of Public School districts 6 & 7 stood before the School Board, arms linked together, and said: "No, None of our schools will close. We do not accept that solution. We live here because of the empowering of local community; we will not participate in compromising our children's education nor will we give up our control over that local choice -- we care for our local community."


Everyone in Portland should be focused, concerned and active in empowering local economy, education and choices. While Portland as a whole seems to be comprehending this, certain parts of our city and branches of government are missing the point: you cannot measure everything in short-term return on dollars....

....Or if you think you or we can, then at least give us the facts by which you are making this business decisions: it's our money, our neighbors and our children.

E-Mail "Best Practices in the Work Place


Please share some of your email "Best Practices" or email "Core Competencies".

I am one of the most serious offenders of poor email styles. My problem? I like to hear myself write.

After 28 years of talking with software, visualizing what I want to create and communicating in 1's and 0's, my verbal communication skills have shriveled up to "Hi...gotta go code now...". I have 528 words allocated to me daily for verbal use.



1. "No Scroll Bar" rule. If the scroll bar shows up while composing an email, you might as well throw it away now and start over. Your boss is not going to read it. His or her patience is 1 short paragraph long. Scroll bar? Guaranteed: your email is overwhelming and probably not important.
  • This is my new rule for controlling my love for watching myself type on and on and on....
  • Sometimes short is too short: My friend Ted drives me crazy on short emails like:

  • --> "Jim. call me. Not important."
    --> "Dow: what's wrong with you? Coffee some time."
    --> "Jim. Graphic Designers want noses on smiley characters: your emails. Can't read emails until you fix.."

2. Only use the subject line if possible and terminate the subject with (end of message). This is a good tip from the Stephen Covey & Franklin folks.

  • I prefer to start with "" then terminate the subject with "" -- it makes me feel more validated.
  • It's more fun to make up new subject line terminaters; really freaking people out on what the acronymns might mean and where I am physcially as I send these emails: WFH (working from home), NLH (never left home), etc...

3. Please no Slang. This is fine in the work place when you are communicating in person. But very dangerous in email. This really happened to me and made me feel very old. I sent a meeting request to a younger work mate. I got back a response "I'm Down With That!".

  • I was rather anxious that my young peer was down on meeting that day.
  • Then he called me up later and wondered why I was not at the meeting that I invited him to.
  • I was so embarrassed. I thought he was "Down On That"...not "Down With That".

"I'm Jiggy-With-It" was so much easier to understand. But my 26 year old daughter won't let me use that anymore: "That's soo 80's, are an embarrassment!!".

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones...


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!".Do you remember that school ground mantra? I remember using that a few times. How I felt inside was much different, "Words hurt much more than sticks and stones..."; at least, it can take much longer to heal from the hurt of intentional or careless choice of words. Sometimes, no words, a total absence of communication can even be worse, "You don't even exist. You are not even worth my time to tell you how meaningless you are".So, how does this relate to the work place and to employers?First of all, there are a lot of thoughless phrases being thrown around the corporate world these days. Worst still, in some cases, these phrases send the message, "we don't care about you at are a non-being...we only value your intellectual assets as property." I already covered this in a prior blog, but these are the phrases: "Human Supply Chain Management" "Human Asset Management" "Human Assets ROI" etc..... Recently, I re-read Stephen R. Covey's book "7 Habbits of Highly Effective People". Covey tells a story about a verbal exchange he had with an executive attending one of his training classes. This person was complaining about how difficult it was to find good employees and criticizing past employee behavior. I am paraphrasing here because I don't have that chapter in front of me, butCovey picked up right away on an attitude issue. He asked this executive how his company treats customers. Of course, the executive hit all the right points on successful customer relations. Covey replied (paraphrased), "Try treating your employees like you do your customers and I bet you start having good employees".As I read this chapter from Covey, I relived some horrifying experiences in my work historty -- words thrown at me (or total ignoring and marginalizing my worth as an employee) from a manager. "Jim, I don't have time for high maintenance employees (the biggest insult one could throw at me)", " better develop some thick skin..we don't have time for any hand-holding here."Whether it is the new marketing mantras coming out of HR or Vendor software companies or fast-lane companies and investors looking for a quick and cheap ROI, companies better starting changing the words and the message. People are not capital assets. People are intellect, emotion, physical and spiritual. True, the work place is an exchange of dollars for employee talent/skils; however, if companies want their employees at peak performance they better start showing a real understanding of and respecting people's basic needs.Why do companies understand that a term like "Customer Relationship Management" feels pretty good -- they want to build some positive emotion around the marketing? But, seems like little thought goes into term like "Human Asset Capital Management".For me, I would rather be a customer of most companies these days. In fact, this is what is going to happen soon. The next generation is not going to accept the arbitrary seperation of intellectual assets and social needs, emotional needs; they will create their own work cultures. They will treat employees with respect. They will treat vendors with respect. They will demand respect as customers to the few corporate dinasours left around.Fortunately for me, I stumbled into working for a company right now that really understands the power of communication, the power of message and how to motivate and retain good people. Interesting to me: the founders are both women. I don't want to stereotype, but there is an awful lot of "good-ole-boy", macho shit still stinking up the corporate world.Through my experiences of the past, I try very hard to "walk the talk". People are important to me: my fellow employees, boss, janitor at work and clerk in my neighborhood Pl[...]

I'm Worth A Lot of "Human Capital"? That Makes Me Feel...


"Human Capital" - "Maximising Value of your Human Capital" - "Human Supply Chain Management" - "Calculating Human Capital ROI" -"Talent Management Technologies"_______________________________________________________________PDX, YEAR 2010 - "HUMAN CAPITAL RHYTHM VALUATION""Hmmm..good thought, Sarah - Predicting "Human Capital De-Valuation Cycles", based on scientific evidence that Human Capital enters seasonal and Infradian cycles. Predicting "n" number of days before de-valuation periods begin, we can now prove that fluctuating salaries are justified by evidence of de-valuation for 'n'-months. I figure cost reduction of $500 mil a year, 2% net profit increase. Bill!!!, jot this down!!! IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL Do you wonder if that makes sense to negotiate your salary based on fluxuating peak performance periods? After all, it would be stricly business; nothing personal - it might even balance out by your negotiating a huge salary during those predicted peaks. If you are a skilled negotiator, bring your own hard evendence to the negotiating table that minimizes perceived affects of your low cycles. What might be called discrimination under today's laws, is then accepted as "just the way it is." Remember, don't take it personally when your "Human Asset Value" goes down --- it's just business, just the way it works out there. _____________________ I exagerate for the sake of making myself think about possible outcomes. This probably won't happen, but business leaders and employees should take a pause at times and really challenge their assumptions and understanding of where certain trends might lead.I try very hard to challenge my assumptions - to try to understand another person's "Paradigm", that person's or organization's perspective. I'm trying very hard to understand some corporate currents to see where they might sweep me and others. I figure I should be responsible for my own critical thinking/ ask experts and research what I don't understand.,Did quite a bit of research on this. There are many, many good articles describing the meaning and transition from "Personnel" to --> "Human Resources" to --> "Human Capital"I decided there were just too many good articles to quote. The material also gives you a severe migraine!!! -- confusing, complex and filled with scientific formulas, ROI talk and vendor marketing hype.I aborted my research a little early. Certain patterns start jump out at me, history repeats itself. Enough research for me to formulate some early opinions and get responses from other people -- it's all input for shifting my opinion as I learn more. _________________________ My focus is on the potential negative and the negatives I have seen so far. I know that there are some good benefits to both employee, manager, HR department and business leadership. I fear it will be getting out of hand soon if people do not start questioning the marketing hype of software vendors and big 8 consulting firms.MY CONCLUSION (still open to altering it)I would lean more towards the conclusion of one article that was coming more from the employee perspective, based around the HR community, it concluded that the next logical phase is:.....from "Human Capital" to --> "Alienation of Employees" Technology (BI and ERP) is advancing now where the weighted value of skilled talent can be factored in and prove additional ROI. This is very impressive and kudos to recognizing that the skills of employees have tangible value.This will be a total failure if everyone thoughtlessly jumps on the bandwagon. "Social Value", "Personal Integrity", "Sharing", "Caring": wil be hard to ROI. Employees will adopt the same ROI mind-set: "No, My brain and skill are worth more than that...You don't like high maintenance employees? I don't like high maintenace employers - bye![...]

Introduction: Topic Focus


"Gather 'round ye local PDX Gen X's & Y's and Baby Boomers! Exciting changes are possible in PDX Careers, Work Cultures, Community and Technology (that enables people). You and I have the power to influence the future of Portland, OR -- but it is only possible through community".

Words of wisdom from an almost-an-old guy (ok, you think I'm ancient. At least I acknowldege I might be getting older).

As a recent escapee from corporate high-tech hell (last 8 years of a 28 year career -- first 20 years were creative heaven), I have collected some foolishness and wisdom that might help you out.

Tips & discussions about careers, community & high-tech in local PDX.