The Long Tail, Outside In Development - book signings
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Chris Anderson was the host / moderator of the session and the only non-IBMer in the group. Chris is the editor of Wired Magazine and the author of The Long Tail. I found out later during our book signing that Chris is working on his next book, possibly to be titled Free. The main message that I learned from Chris is that most companies block certain websites from their employees. Interestingly.... IBM does NOT block these websites and may be one of the only companies, certainly of this size, to be able to make that claim. For those who attended, you'll remember the photograph of the black and white cable... white being the websites that were allowed to employees, and black being the "sandbox" sites where real innovation happens. After the session, we spoke about the one site that was not used by IBMers: Skype. I've never attempted to use it, but was told that IBMers have access to much better tools than Skype so there is no need for us to check this tool out... at least at work.
Carl Kessler is VP of worldwide development for IBM’s Enterprise Content Management business and very recently, author of Outside-in Software Development: A Practical Approach to Building Successful Stakeholder-based Products. Carl's blog provides a near transcript of the points he covered at this event... the main point being that there is a gap between IT and line of business users that has always existed, but that is growing exponentially. If the gap continues to grow, IT will be so out of touch with future employees that business agility, client satisfaction, and business success will be the biggest loser.
I spoke to Carl about how he came to write his book and he said that in his previous assignment, he was given the task of creating a framework and practical implementation of techniques that any development team could quickly benefit from, regardless of project type or scope. Carl began spreading the word about this framework and implementation, but quickly found out that he needed help in getting the message to as many people as possible. Hence a book was recommended so that it could become one of the was to spread the message without the need to clone Carl! The book is brand-new... and perhaps it needs to be mandatory reading for certain groups?
Anant Jhingran was next. He made us all laugh with his use of music and lyrics to make his point: "How can you have any pudding if you don't wash yer feet?" Essentially, IBM has previews of unfinished Web 2.0 components (Mashup Hub, DAMIA, and QEDWiki) available to be downloaded and played with, but will improve as feedback is gathered. You can learn more about Anant's Info 2.0 views from the latest edition of the printed DB2 Magazine.
Carol Jones made a couple of excellent points that I walked away with. One... it is safer for employees to be walking around with a blackberry rather than a laptop as the blackberry will only hold a small subset of the information that is normally found on a laptop. So if stolen or lost, there is much less risk of losing critical information. Two... university and college students today have access to all the latest web tools. If companies restrict the access to these tools when these people finally begin their working career, these future employees will be handicapped in a way that they won't know how to use the tools that they are allowed to and may resent having restrictions to tools that could really make them effective at their jobs.
And finally Jeff Jonas. He'll say that he can't draw, but his slides make for a lasting impression. I've never heard the term information amnesia before, but the term along with Jeff's story make a lasting impression. The story: Jeff checks into a hotel very late at night... telling the front desk person that he wants a wake up call and breakfast at 10 am... and his dry-cleaning at 10:30. The next day housekeeping knocks on his door at 9 am. Seems like a very simple problem to solve, but if you think about it, everyone has examples of how the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing. Jeff is chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytic Solutions group and intends to help the world solve these types of problems.
Jeff joined Chris and Carl at the book signing after the session and we were able to have an interesting chat about new technologies and publishing. I'm hoping that I can help these gentlemen with future publishing projects.