We're excited to introduce to you our long-time valued partner, Brad Smith, Portland's creator of WebVisions. This "creative conference for the web", now in its 15th year, has spawned a loyal fan base of designers, developers, and web visionaries from around the world.

Photo of Heather Martin

When and how did you decide to create WebVisions?

In the late 90s, we were working with groups in Portland to put on larger events that drew attendees from different disciplines. We had been running a group called the DevGroup NW for six years, and we decided to put on an event that would focus on the future of the Web.
Our first WebVisions show was held in August of 2001, right after the .COM bust when people were worried about finding work. 

What do you think sets WebVisions apart from other web conferences?

WebVisions tries to take risks and constantly evolve as we try to discover the future of the Internet and how communities connect around it. Our goal is to provide a range of ideas and directions, make attendees think, and then take new practices back to their organization. In a lot of ways WebVisions is a laboratory for what events can be. Most of the time it's magic, but sometimes we fail. That's part of the adventure.

It's rumored that you intend to "go green" with future WebVisions events.

How do you think this sustainability decision will affect WebVisions conference proceedings, engagement, outlook? In a way, taking the show to different cities helped us with our decision to 'go green'. We wanted to reduce the amount of stuff that we brought to a show, to condense all of our materials into a couple of suitcases, if possible. We redesigned our badges and cut 75% of the weight and made them 100% recyclable. Programs were reduced to a multi-fold, quarter-sheet-sized product. A lot of our materials went digital. We'll be talking about our efforts at the FRESH conference in Barcelona this July and plan to share our findings with other event organizers.

Is it true that Steve Jobs declined your invitation (and a $100 Powell's City of Books gift certificate!) to attend your second WebVisions conference?

Yes. Bill Gates declined as well. We made a press release and, to the best of my knowledge, we're the only conference that made news about speakers who declined to participate. We've had the great pleasure to include experts before they became superstars:  Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, Jeffrey Veen, Stewart Butterfield of Slack, and others.

What is your favorite Portland food cart? 

Damn! How does one pick a favorite? Depending on the mood--Potato Champ, Taqueria Lindo Michoacan, Wolf & Bear's--and maybe the original cart, Honkin' Huge Burritos.





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