After about 4-5 hours of sleep the previous night, I was still in reasonable shape to do my presentation at the 3rd Developer Relations Conference
hosted by Evans Data Corp. This is a gathering of the folks who run developer programs at different technology companies, with speakers from Sun, Nokia, BEA Systems, Eclipse, Motorola, Yahoo!, HP Software, Intel, Borland, AMD, and many more (and of course ourselves from IBM). It seems an anachronism to have an event where all these companies that are competing for many of the same developers to share knowledge but I think it opens minds and views all the same.
My presentation was Extending your developer network with Web 2.0 communities
, discussing what you need to know about communities to pick the right kind of Web 2.0 tools for yours. For all the organizations that may go headlong into setting up blogs, wikis, etc., and even multiple competing instances, without really understanding the communities they are trying to create, I hope this talk gives provides some food for thought. (The powerpoint works best in slideshow mode: F5).
I attended a few of the other sessions but the one I found refreshing was Chad Dickerson's talk about Hack Day at Yahoo! Chad's a Sr Director at Yahoo and responsible for organizing the internal Hack Days, and more importantly, the external Hack Day
last June. I had missed this event entirely (busy with my then-8-month pregnant wife). They essentially opened up the Yahoo campus to 400 developers from all over who agreed to come and spend 24 hours developing new projects and mashups using Yahoo's many APIs. The format was what intrigued me:
- Developers could come from anywhere but they had to agree to code, and not just be an observor
- The developers actually camped out on the Yahoo lawn and ate and slept there for a day or two--even people like David Filo stayed till the wee hours of the morning
- An unconference model where people signed up for any project that they thought of, led initially by talks about the APIs themselves
- Yahoo employees roamed around the developers and stayed with them through the night
- They had Beck give a performance there, which was quite appropriate considering he'd just appeared on the September 06 cover of Wired
- The Legal departments agreed to let the developers keep whatever rights to their own code (seems the right choice but hard to accept by legal teams sometimes)
- People could make whatever projects they wanted to work on, although at times, it raised some eyebrows
Now this is very obvious customer-led innovation. For all the executives and analysts that like to throw that term around, this model is the concept implemented in what I think is its truest form. I applaud Chad and the Yahoo team for doing the right thing and having the guts to put this together. Read more from the TechCrunch blog
soon after the event. Here's hoping to the same success again this year.