Michael O'Connell and Branavan Ganesan on My developerWorks

Michael O'Connell, developerWorks editor in chief and Branavan Ganesan, developerWorks community guru herald the February 2009 roll out of the all-new user customization approach to the developerWorks experience, My developerWorks.

Scott Laningham (scottla@us.ibm.com), developerWorks Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.



06 February 2009

You can listen to the podcast HERE.

developerWorks: This is a developerWorks podcast, I'm Scott Laningham here with developerWorks editor in chief, Michael O'Connell and developerWorks community guru Branavan Ganesan. They're here to talk about the coming roll out in February of an all-new user customization approach to the developerWorks experience. Hey, guys, how are you doing?

Michael: Hey, Scott.

Branavan: Hey, Scott, how are you doing? Good to be here.

developerWorks: It's good to have you guys. Now, I heard you all talking about this and we're calling it My developerWorks. My developerWorks already exists; it's been there for a while. Are we talking about kind of a major relaunch or at least a huge enhancement of what's already there?

Branavan: I would say this is the next evolution of what's already there because you're absolutely right, it's already there and has been there. We've worked all along to try and sort of give folks a way to make this, meaning developerWorks, their own. The key difference I would say is this time around we have and are trying to make use of the Web 2.0 technologies that are out there and also philosophically speaking we're trying to embrace some of the cultural changes that go along with that.

developerWorks: Yes and I was thinking about Spaces and how Spaces was certainly a step in that direction, but maybe we never quite realized the community aspect of that like we wanted to. Is that going to be a part of this, or is that ... where do Spaces fit into all this?

Branavan: It's part of it. It will be part of the overall sort of community portfolio and I think so you hit it right on the head, this is, when we did this Spaces thing it was sort of our first cut to think about it sort of in the perpetual beta kind of philosophy. We went out there and we did some things. To a certain extent I think it was premature, Spaces, I mean, for the time that we put it out there. We found out as a result of doing that that we needed to sort of complement it with some of these other pieces.

So I think this time around with some of the things that we have planned for this launch coming up in February, I'm actually quite excited about Spaces having some amount of a rebirth.

developerWorks: That's cool. Michael, what are you hearing from users about all of this and is this something that's being driven by a real desire for more interactive stuff, more ability to build communities around all of this and contribute not just consume information?

Michael: Yes, I think it is, Scott. And we're hearing from our users I think what's also reflected in my industry at large and what, for example, the industry analysts are telling us too about what's taking off and what's resonating with the communities, not just within developerWorks but worldwide and industrywide.

You know, from the beginning of developerWorks we've always been focused on serving the wants and needs of our community, our developers, our IT professionals. And this is an extension of that. That's something that they're saying that they want and it's something that we know will help make developerWorks a more valuable resource and more valuable community for them. Not just as people who go to the site and access our articles and tutorials and other valuable content -- we'll continue to offer that -- but also to let them interact and communicate with each other directly and to add value by contributing information and helping each other through collaborative efforts.

developerWorks: Yes, I was thinking about how a lot of us on the team have fun with Twitter and we Facebook and a lot of us interact in ways using these other tools that I assume some of this is behind, you know, this is a really part of what we're hoping to achieve here to some extent. Would you say so, Bran? I mean, I'm wondering about, what are some of the features that we're going to see early on with this?

Branavan: Yes. So the focus here would be to sort of wrap these social networking or interaction capabilities around content, right? So we went out and we did our feedback, whether it was our primary research or the stuff that the industry analysts were telling us. They say the primary reason people go to develop a program is because they want really good technical content. So we scored really high there.

The next thing was this whole community business and we got people telling us, I come in and read your stuff, your stuff's great, I want to be able to find out who else is reading it, I want to be able to talk to them, I want to be able to find them.

So these kinds of things that they now do and have come to expect, I think, really in places like, you know the Facebooks of the world and the Twitter, they want to see here because they see I think the value that it adds in sort of the workplace kind of the worker persona kind of behavior in addition to the plain persona or the personal persona.

developerWorks: I get the feeling this is really maybe with Spaces and earlier on with this, it was kind of an early-adopter approach. This is really something that is a must now, I would assume, to stay vital and keep moving forward. Wouldn't you guys say?

Michael: I would say so.

Branavan: I certainly would say so, too.

Michael: Yes, if you look at I mean just even in -- beyond the technical realm, you just look at general communities online and how prevalent they are, it is kind of beyond an option at this point. I mean, even very non-technical communities are really embracing Web 2.0 technologies in terms of their use. They may not understand the underlying technologies and the code and what-not, but they certainly appreciate and value the features and the functions that those offer. And we're in a position now that we're able to do even more than we have in the past. We've had things already, but we're trying to really ramp things up this year and the efforts in February a big part of that.

Branavan: I think Michael said it very eloquently. The only thing I would add is that in these places where these communities form, it's usually around something that's of value. So we already know that we have something that's of value to our community which is really great. So this would really be sort of doing things and setting up features and capabilities that sort of make it a richer user experience.

We have over three million unique visitors a month coming to us. Now the goal is to take those folks and give them more things to get out of the time that they come there and also to allow them to do some of these other things that they've been telling us they want to do, having to do with, you know, the sort of finding each other.

developerWorks: Yes. You know, I remember and Michael will remember this from a couple years, three years back when we first started this podcast and I talked to Tim Berners-Lee. And at the time we mentioned, you know, what do you think of Web 2.0? And it was really early in that phrase's life and he was like well, it doesn't mean anything, man. He said, that's what the Web was always supposed to be. And it was interesting because I think it is in a sense the realization, beginning to realize the real potential here beyond just putting up content, but the ability of the Web to enable all of this wonderful community and interaction and the other product that comes out of that is really kind of where all this is headed now, isn't it?

Michael: I think you hit it on the head, Scott. It's really enabling all of the community members to share their wealth of knowledge and expertise with one another as well as provide the resources that we gather from some authors and from IBM.

Branavan: You know, we talked about some of the culture changes and we're using the Web 2.0 technology, too. But in terms of the culture changes, I think definitely developerWorks, we've formally embraced this notion of NIH, you know, Not Invented Here.

developerWorks: Yes.

Branavan: We truly believe -- always have but we want to show that now -- that we truly believe that we value our community's contribution.

developerWorks: So when should we expect to see the beginnings of this, Bran? What's the roll out, maybe the first iteration date or whatever, first release date?

Branavan: So we're going to start putting stuff out, we're going to do it in a few drops so it's not going to all come out together, but it's going to, you can expect to start seeing things the end of February, is when we're going to put out the first pieces around My developerWorks part, the personalization part.

So the electronic persona, allowing folks to create their own personas, the profiles, some of the features around tagging and also this ability to find each other. So the find people feature, the ability to, well, it's a la Facebook, Facebook has sort of this friending model.

developerWorks: Yes.

Branavan: We call it colleagues, but essentially, find people with similar interests. It will ask you to create a network for yourself and then also follow each other ... not just follow each other, but follow each other's content. So allow the ability to follow what other people are tagging, so what content they're finding and tagging and that kind of stuff.

Michael: If you find somebody who is interesting in similar things or has similar needs as you and you track what they're paying attention to, you'll probably stumble upon some resources that really help you out that you might not otherwise find.

Branavan: And if I could just make one pitch, which is that for the folks that are listening to the podcast and are on Twitter, so developerWorks is out on Twitter, so it's twitter.com/developerworks. We are out there and we're doing feeds of what's out there, but we're also going to be using the Twitter ID for polling purposes. We're very interested in hearing what folks have to say, even leading up to this. So not just the middle of February, but even now, we encourage folks to go and follow our ID, we'll follow you back. And just look for our questions because we want to know what you think.

developerWorks: This is great. Michael O'Connell and Bran Ganesan, thanks, guys, for doing this. I appreciate it.

Branavan: Thank you, Scott.

Michael: Thanks, Scott.

developerWorks: Be sure to visit ibm.com/developerworks, IBM's premier technical resource for software developers with tools, code and education on IBM products and open standards technology. I'm Scott Laningham. Talk to you next time.

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