I ran into someone who was taking an honors class in Social Entrepreneurism at the University. Their focus is on rural education and micro-economic enablement through micro-loan systems. If you have not heard about this concept, it was pioneered by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh a number of years ago and has since become a worldwide phenomenon.
As I was describing to them, however, social entrepreneurism (SE) isn't limited to helping the poor. There are other groups of people out there who need help and education just as much. Even dW is a form of SE in terms of helping emerging topics and technologies grow within the realm of software systems.
There are a great many valuable ideas out there initiated by people who know a lot about technology and software. However, not every developer knows what to do to keep a project running, sharing it with others, or getting recognition for their efforts.
We hear of many successful and innovative open source projects created purely on the basis of successful leadership, and even a hefty dose of good luck. However, there are tens of thousands of other projects which fall off the grid because the lead(s) of the team simply don't know what to do to get it to the next level.
Many technical people simply say "Oh well that's a marketing thing to get more people to use it", but that's only one element of it.
Towards that goal, the idea of dW started as one whereby we could help that kind of project that either came out of IBM or one we were involved in to help them grow and become more successful. It has grown in many ways beyond just the needs of IBM and we think that is a good thing for the whole industry.
Our community areas are no different. Our SE role is in the same domain: helping projects, topics and ideas to grow. That means we need to focus on providing tools, knowledge and other forms of assistance to fuel this.
Obviously, with a limited team there's a limit to how much you can do for anyone one group, and it always depends on the leaders of that group. However, by documenting successes, identifying best practices for different situations, we think we can help the situation for others. The learning and education here is not just in terms of solving a particular technical issue but addressing how to actually improve the human side of the equation.
Community and social computing
Okay, I try to avoid being the braggart but I have to say that this week our SOA Compass book that I co-authored with four other engineers from IBM is today's #1 in all computer books on the Barnes & Noble's site, amusingly enough even ahead of Lou Gerstner's Who says elephants can't dance?.
This is only for today and only on Barnes & Nobles rather than Bookscan or the NY Times list of course, but it put a smile on my face. After years of writing, this is about as good as it has gotten. This is a good day for developerWorks Books.
Amusingly enough, we are also #24 amongst all fiction and non-fiction books right after Stephen King's latest book Cell and ahead of other books I admire like Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Larry Bossidy's Execution: The discipline of getting things done and even Dan Brown's paperback version of Angels and Demons.
Okay, it's still not yet the top ten of all books alongside Friedman's The World is Flat, or Steven Levitt's Freakanomics.
Of course, all such success is fleeting.[Read More]
Whether formalized or ad-hoc, there are several common types of communities based on the goals of that group of people
Some of these types include:
The behavior of the groups, the tools they need, the processes they use, etc. are different. Some groups may start out as one type and change into another. It really helps the group to identify what they want to accomplish.
The failure of most groups to develop or encourage a healthy, growing community stems from not setting up that initial direction.
For example, a project-based community need tools help manage the project and the product they are developing. This can be software, but it can apply to any kind of product really. Having tools to monitor activity, define schedules, and record achievements are all hallmarks of a good project management system. However, not all projects need complex PM
tools; in fact they can be quite intimidating or cause bureaucratic overload, which just leads to frustration.
A community of practice needs means for the members to get together and collect their ideas and experiences. Very often, you see this happening in Wikis and other group editing tools.
A community of interest exists to gather more energy and followers to a topic but may not be focused as much on developing knowledge, just sharing experiences. Thus, regular communications through some form of discussion tool is quite healthy.
This is not to say that any of these require only one specific tool to achieve their goal. Quite the converse. You will find that many communities will use the same type of tool for different purposes and many will need multiple tools to interact.
This is one of the reasons why when developing a community, you cannot base it on a single tool like a forum or a wiki, and similar why a single tool does not signify the extent of the community. So far, I have not seen no one perfect solution for all communities.
If you're a community of many other communities like we are at developerWorks, then you will likely have each of these different subtypes within yourself, and then you really need to expand the tools that allow your community members to interact.
Laptops are the ubiquitous tool of Networked Man. It's also how you identify them in the wild.
I'm a very heavy laptop user. I take it with me almost every day when I leave the house. Hence, I need something that won't drag me down in terms of weight. I've been using one kind of Thinkpad or another for years, honestly, because this is what they provide me at work. It seems to do the job well and isn't too heavy (current one is about 5 lbs).
On the other hand,I really like the idea of convertible notebooks or Tablet PCs where you can flip the screen over
and lay it flat on the keyboard and then write on it. IBM's PC division (before Lenovo) had one for a brief time together with a notepad, but that went away. In fact most Tablet PCs were similar size (12" screens), which was a little too small for me.
The one I see out there now is Gateway's 14" widescreen version. However, they haven't made a good docking station for it, just a port replicator.
I'd like to a tablet PC with a docking station you can just plug into vertically to turn the unit into a sort of
all-in-one monitor-PC. There'd be a keyboard, mouse and cabling connected to the dock of course. But the core idea would be to have a dock that works like an adjustable monitor base (turning it, raising it, etc.)
When you're on the go, you could simply suspend, unlock and lift it off and put it into a locking hard case/shell rather than having to strap into a laptop bag.
Honestly, the five minutes it takes for me to hibernate my computer, undocking, and pack it; then do the reverse when at my location turns out to be about an hour a week I've lost. That's 40-50 hours a year; i.e., a whole week of work.
There are many examples for successful projects that are being built by a team of people across the globe (e.g., Skype). This is becoming less and less unusual. What is rare however, is an account of what this experience is like and what it takes to successfully carry out such a project.
This is project management to a new degree with people you may have never met before, who may not even be in your organization. Undoubtedly, our industry has advantages because it naturally allows this kind of collaboration using tools, and communication mechnisms that are cheap or even completely free.
What we don't hear about are the specifics:
It's these kind of questions that really bug me and generally where I think a lot of people need a lot of guidance. I do think that software tools are just the first step.
I'm not sure if you've seen this meme but I've come across it in several books both about online and offline communities:
Interactions in communities -->
Creates Understanding --------->
Develops Trust ----------------->
Allows Exploration & Entreprenuership ->
Sets stage for Innovation
The most recent place I saw this meme again, in a slightly varied form was near the last chapters of The World is Flat (ok, maybe I make references to this too often these days :)
Now these are "grand" notions that often follow in a sequence like this above. You need to have one stage happening before you can really reach the next stage. Thus you don't really jump ahead and ask "How do we innovate?" but need to ask "What are we doing to set up an environment such that innovation can happen?"
It's important to realize that the arrows in the diagram above are not trivial. In other words, when you have one stage, you need to do something to progress it to the next stage. That something could take a whole lot of effort. But in terms of managed innovation, it gives points where you can measure how your population is doing and how you can recognize if you've reach that stage.
There are many books out there describing how to innovate and get others to innovate, and I certainly have not read nearly enough of them. I still wonder if some of them consider going through that meme sequence above.
The somethings are also where the opportunities lie. Many innovation and leadership management trends have come and gone, and still many exist in parallel. I'm no certified expert at it and there are likely some really good sources out there too. (Okay, maybe people like Steven Covey)
Right now, I'm just trying to develop an idea for the early stages of this meme, those focused on the developing the community. Hopefully more smart people will come along to explain what to do next.
We just ended our weeklong meeting with the infrastructure, applications and design teams of our developerWorks. We have them once or twice a year bringing all the members of our distributed organization into a single physical location to talk about their projects, brainstorm, and engage each other in coordinating efforts.
This is our own internal community of developers and designers that help maintain and improve the extensive network of sites that is developerWorks, supporting over 5 million members, dozens of acclaimed topics, and many sites for other countries (locales). We call this collective "Scott McAllister's team" refering to the multiple teams and managers that report up to Scott. The event is our own Geek Week.
We have a whole other team of folks who do the great work behind creating our content on the many sites. That team is meeting at the end of February.
For my part, I talked extensively about our planned Community strategy, and the involvement of these teams. The plan is a holistic look at the evolution of communities, predicting what the next stage of evolution is, what that means to us in terms of future opportunities, what we should build, and even the next stages of what we could do.
Needless to say, Web 2.0 played a large part, but rather than in bits and pieces, I mapped out the overall solution that brings Web 2.0 to our whole site. I'd like to tell you the plan, but it's a secret. ;)
I can say that I get a number of people coming up to me and saying they really liked the presentation (gives me warm fuzzies :), some also wanted to know how they could get involved.
What I should say is that I had to consider what projects and experiments we were already considering and how it might relate to this plan. There are many smart people in our organization and many ways to interpret ideas. My strategy (behind the strategy) is to consider the many ideas and see if we can make good use of it in the overall plan. I like to be inclusive wherever possible.
That's actually much harder than it seems. For one, while we have a such a structure, we are not a strongly hierarchical organization (i.e., siloed) and have many cross-teams across the functional teams. This is not an unusual situation for many companies these days. One person may have different roles in several teams, so part of the time I'm trying to consider which role I'm talking to. We are also distributed across at least six different states in the US (not including the international teams), that makes it hard to just get appropriate time with people.
It's events like this week that greatly reinforce the "wholeness" of the team, as well as help spread ideas. It is a great offline community that most of our readers never hear about. It's when people connect that innovations--small or large--happen.
Maybe, I'm misunderstanding the goal of this new US federal guideline but it sounds like a bonehead idea to me. The goal of this guideline is to standardize how employers track data on diversity of job applications. However, it requires very specific aspects that makes it quite impractical to apply for jobs online.
Per this article on Money magazine, one item is that you need to exactly match the text in your resume to the exact qualifications that the job posting requires. Otherwise the employer will never see the application in the first place.
If you have written enough job postings before, you may know how challenging it is to describe exactly what you want. Not only that, the not everything is so exact that people describe the same skill by the same definition. So if the applicant doesn't understand what the potential employer means by it, they can rewrite their app to match but that doesn't mean that they have a proper match. This means false matches.
Another way to look at it, even if you do want to apply for a job, it has to be written exactly per the employers needs. While it's not a bad thing to design your resume around the employers needs but, just mechanically having to format your resume and application per each employer is just time consuming (and I argue wasted effort).
I don't know who was involved in this but it doesn't sound like they spent a lot of time researching the user experience on how people apply for jobs online.
Cnet's article on Small is beautiful for Web 2.0 start-ups gives attention to the growing sentiment that the application development process needs to become more lightweight.
This is something that can go in several directions:
While Jason Fried of 37Signals believes the idea of enterprise software is "dead", it's more likely a space that small projects just don't play in. Also there may be a great many more small projects going compared to large projects but it's difficult to argue either way that a number of small projects equals one large project or vice-versa. (Obviously, I'm not defining what "small" and "large" means; think of those as what they mean to you)
On the other hand, small projects may be a difficult idea for some organizations to handle, especially when they are focused on going for large ones. It's a matter of overhead; With each small project, the relative size of the overhead for running the project may seem a lot higher than the overhead of a large project.
However, the techniques needed to operate a large project many not be the same as the ones needed for small ones.
The real winner is the one who figures out what kind of project management techniques are most appropriate for any given project, anticipating its complexity and size. Of course, if you could see the future and know how much work was involved right away, it'd be a simple trick.
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The Economist issue from last week has an 18-page in depth section on how people and organizations are evolving in the face of globalization, online Web 2.0 technologies, and changing ideas on organizing teams. This is one of the best articles I have seen on the subject (even better than Friedman's "The World is Flat")
You will need to be registered to access this premium content online, unfortunately.
Whew! It's getting almost too busy to blog already this early in the year...
Ok, my thoughts on Virtual economies affecting the real world is already starting to happen...
CNet had an article on Julian Dibbell's stance on Are Virtual Assets Taxable?" brings a real question to the face of the Internal Revenue Service, the US authority that taxes everyone (even people who don't live in the US).
Julian's story is on his virtual world of Ultima Online which coincidentally was one of the first graphical MMORPGs I used to play years ago. I spent many hours of my childhood playing the single-player Ultima games, so UO was a godsend.
In any case, the same problem exists as I mentioned before, in most if not all virtual worlds, such assets can be freely created and there is no hard limit to resources. This makes it easy to keep increasing the amout of "space" and "stuff" that's all around you. Continue to sell that virtual stuff for real money essentially amounts to devaluing real dollars.
Everyone considered it an amusing diversion but chuckled because "how many players can there be actually doing that?" According to the CNet article the combined number of players already ranks in the millions and the combined asset value (in terms of fair market value) could be in tens or hundreds of millions.
If you consider the number of online gamers is simply increasing as well as the number of titles, then the possibility for continual growth in that combined asset value is also real. How long before it really matters? Does it matter when that value is in the hundreds of millions now or soon? How about in the billions? Still no? How about in the trillions? Yes, or do you still think it just ridiculous?
This brings up another point in that there are still a limited number of human players. Possibly, but the ability to create in game bots to play for you is becoming more and more intelligent. Just the same, consider those bots, familiars, servants, etc. that are collecting assets for your main character. Now it becomes easier for a (really dedicated) person to amass assets at a faster rate.
James Governor of RedMonk has a point in his blog
Wake up IBM: come out from behind developerworks!!!
If it isn't obvious already, developerWorks focuses on a mixed audience of programmers, sysadmins, architects, testors, etc. all those directly involved in the software development lifecycle. Hence, our blogs fall in the same cloud too.
IBMers do have other blogs both on the site and outside, but there isn't an area for "all IBM blogs" externally from the global IBM site yet. Honestly, that falls beyond dW's scope.
One trend that sci-fi authors, role playing games, movies and multiuser environments have talked about for decades, is finally becoming more and more real.
Examine these parallel trends:
A. Dungeons & dragons / Role playing (non-computer) characters
-> text MUD games players
-> MMORPGs (e.g. Ultima Online, Everquest, World of Warcraft)
-> Non-RPG-based environments (The Sims Online, Second Life)
-> Military Tactical/Strategic representations
-> Telemetry and Remote Imaging
-> Battlefied information systems
-> Robotic military (Remote guided aircraft/UAV, bomb-detection robots, etc.)
C. Heroic Mythology (Greek myth, Viking sagas, Chinese myth)
-> People with secret super-hero identities (Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman)
-> Robotic personas (Voltron, Gundam & Macross series)
-> Virtual worlds (Tron, The Matrix trilogy)
D. User accounts
-> Web home pages
-> individual blogs
-> Group content/documents (wikis, forums, chats, etc.)
-> Spaces (combining Web pages, blogs, other Web 2.0 services)
-> Online personas
While different in form and utility, what it is pointing to is a change in how we perceive our identities in the rise of the online/alternate world.
Call them what you like, your blog, your avatar, your character, your robot, your role in the Matrix... It all points to having a separate identity for yourself in an environment other than the one you live in right now.
I tend to see this as a continuing trend where we will see more and more of ourselves participating in the online world on a regular basis.
However, I also think that people will start making distinctions. Most of us have different faces even in a typical day: there's a similar but distinct persona of you at home, at work, at school, with your family, with your friends, with the government, etc.
They are all you, just different aspects of you. With the online world, it's easier to make those different aspects, or even create new ones based on the online environment.
This comes back to developers in a real way. There is probably a "developer" identity that you put on (some of the time, or even much of the time for others).
What that developer identity needs is a environment of its own. In fact, traditionally we have that too:
> assembly language
-> programming languages
-> compilers & other developer tools
-> integrated development environments
-> online searching
-> online code repositories and exchanges
-> online group projects and identities
The X here is where it all comes together into an online space that is yours and that you have your developer avatar participate in, and that can interact in an online community or virtual world with many other developers.
In this virtual world, we're not talking about a game of fighting other developers (aka WoW style), but in a real sense of getting involved in projects, learning new ideas or meeting new people who are working on things you are interested in. It gives the setting for participating.
Once someone builds that participation environment, you as a developer can suddenly see or be exposed to the many opportunities that lie ahead. This opportunity can translate into dollars and jobs in the real world.
The rise of Web 2.0 brings a new level of collaboration into the mindsets of the audience. Ideas which were previously taboo, are now actually being considered.
For example, the value of a book is traditionally considered to be in having access to the content of the book itself. For book publishers, this model means: get one or more authors, work on a book, then print and publish the thing, and distribute to bookstores where customers can buy them.
Usually, the ability a person has to examine the contents of the book is usually limited in time (enough time to read some of the book in a store), in content (having access to some portion of the content they can review), or based on the opinion of others.
While not the first, Robert Scoble helped change views while working on his book as a blog, by giving people access to its content while it is being developed online.
This idea is close to my heart and went into the reasoning behind why we needed the developerWorks Books series, and why I helped to start that as part of IBM Press. Somewhere in the following I think is the future of how books can be developed in something that benefits most parties.
It's similar to, although not exactly the same, as "open sourcing" the book since the philosophy of open source does not preclude selling the product. However, if you have access to the contents of the book for free, why would you buy it.
This puts traditional print publishers in a dilemma. Their business is based on selling the product, not giving it away online and hope someone still buys a copy.
To me, both ways seem a little extreme.
Developing a book takes a lot of time and effort and in some topics, by the time you finish writing, a lot may have changed. My guess is that most authors want not only the noteriety but hopefully would also like to get paid from the knowledge they put down. Call me a capitalist, but giving away a year or two of my life to write a book that may become outdated deserves some reward beyond the satisfaction that you've tried to impart some wisdom to the world.
In the fast changing online world, it makes a lot of sense to do some grass-roots promotion of the book by talking about the subject or showing people some of what you have been working on. This is in hopes that later, when you are done writing and editing, people will want to buy the finished product.
Therefore, I think there's a use-case somewhere in between. I say a use-case because I think this is something people will want to do online.
E.g., provide a group of authors with a tool for them to put together a document (say a Wiki), that they can all edit. Develop the outline, and start fleshing out some of the chapters and sections. Then introduce processes between the authors and an editor where they can bring in the editorial process. Then give access to a select audience or even a wide audience to some of the content so you can get some feedback and peer review. Finally, give access to the content and some knowledge about what others think of the book in progress to the book marketing group so they know what it is about and how its doing.
Thus, this package is a specific use-case for book development that involves an online tool for document development, perhaps another tool for discussion, access control to select or public audiences to portions of the content that you choose, ways to measure opinions and traffic to the publicly available/reviewable sections, and then finally a way to transfer the developed content into a format suitable for publishing/printing/distribution.
It involves giving away part of the book for free so that you get a drumbeat going as well as some feedback on coverage. In exchange, you get a better understanding of how the market may receive the work before it is even complete.
The step beyond is where it gets real interesting.
There's no real end to the book, if people are really interested. You could continue working on developing the content, adding new material, and exposing new material to others. You continue to build on a book without having to build a huge business case for a new book or a new edition, unless there really needs to be one.
Paul Dreyfus from our team is helping to make the dW series of books become real and there should be some interesting news coming out this year.
This idea above is so far just my own brainstorming. I doubt it is unique and probably already in force somewhere. It requires the expertise, experience and cooperation of a book publisher, an online publisher, and authors daring enough to try it out. From a Web 2.0 perspective, I think it makes for an interesting approach to team and even community driven content, and brings remixing to a whole new level (between print and online media).
Web 2.0 can give you an advantage to compete against the 1.5 billion people who joined the labor market
Paper is undeniably one of the most lasting technologies the world has ever known. Even now, in the digital age, companies have considered going back to "paper disks" because the medium actually can store data for much longer than magnetic media (50 yrs as opposed to 5-10 yrs). Now imagine what would have happened if more people learned how to use paper to record knowledge, and if that became more prevalent centuries before it became "mainstream".
In reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, I came across a factoid which I thought was interesting (pg 182). There are about 1.5 billion new workers entering the labor force as a result of the flattening of the world and the entrance of new players to the game of globalization (i.e., BRICK countries = Brazil, Russia, India, China, Korea, etc.)
His idea of the three convergences include: convergence into a new playing field (because of the rise of technology), convergence of new players (as above), and new processes (to enable a globalized economy).
The impact of the new technologies not just for data delivery (the net) and content sharing (the Web), but also for collaboration and workflow (the Web 2.0) cannot be understated in this regard.
In other words, to play in a new globalized field, you will need to consider not just what resources are available locally but also remotely in other areas you haven't thought of.
To technology companies, this means that there is a need to closely examine how the collaboration, interaction and workflow tools required for a global environment needs to function. And it's not just the tools, but the ways on how to use them, the human processes and guidelines for interaction, and the pitfalls and traps to avoid.
Inevitably, there will be many different (often competing) technologies and products that will arise to fill this need. Friedman paraphrasing economic historian Paul A. David, there is a historical basis in a lag between the release of these innovations and the rise of proper processes for using these technologies.
For developers, the lesson to learn here is how to take advantage of these tools, understand in context which tools are more useful for their own needs, and encouraging others to adopt the tool.
Printing, for example, was develop many centuries ago in China; however, it was limited, even restricted, in use. If it was more open, I daresay that the world might have been even more technologically advanced that it is now. The same goes for Web 2.0 technologies.
Web 2.0: learn it, use it, and find your global advantage.
Tim O'Reilly's paper on "What is Web 2.0?" brought to mind the issues of individual scale that many companies don't quite get.
Tim's description of why Google's AdSense works because it allows individuals to easily slap an ad onto their sites rather than the more complicated process of DoubleClick that requires formal contracts and agreements, gives one example of the power of mass of individuals.
The blogosphere's population of many individuals talking about different topics, rather than large PR teams in organizations, are starting to make a greater difference; ie. another example
The ability to remix applications, content and data in Web 2.0 for your own personal use gives yet another example.
The common ideas across all of these that I can see are:
- individuals (as opposed to whole companies/organizations) matter in Web 2.0
- the ability to work on things on a small or even personal scale (as opposed building applications for whole organizations) also matter
- the organizations that are built to focus on large customers rather than individuals may be missing out on Web 2.0.
My point is that to take a stance on Web 2.0 you have to think about empowering the individual not just big business partners, and large customers.
This is the ever ellusive "SMB" market (small-medium business) that more big companies are starting to take notice of. But this SMB goes even smaller down the scale to individual customers. I'd even call it the "SSB" (super-small business).
Now the question of whether this is something that works only for the mass/retail customer rather than organizations as a whole is still something everyone is trying to understand.
Scenario: a developer in an organization is looking for a particular item (content, data, or service), and finds it on the net somewhere to help complete their job task. Is that worth it to a supplier when the cost of offering that item
may not be very high? That is, what would make companies consider selling millions tiny widgets at $0.10 rather than one big widget to one customer for $10M?
The classic argument why some companies don't focus on mass sales at an almost retail level is the cost of offering that product is usually quite high, leaving low margins.
That would be perfectly true for a physical item that requires proper warehousing, distribution, retailing, sales tracking, mass advertising, etc.
Now consider pure-online products that can be delivered over the network. Are all those costs still true? Is there still this barrier of high cost overheads to produce something of the sort?
Companies geared to sell expensive goods to large customers may be so locked into their sales model that offering small scale services to many individuals just doesn't seem very appetizing.
That's a substantial mental hurdle for some organizations to overcome in Web 2.0.
PS: If you're thinking that going down to the SSB scale just sounds crazy, think again about the successes of Google, eBay and Amazon, and not just for retail customers but for their business partners, and their whole community of users.
I wanted to point out that "use cases" are different than technology implementations in Web 2.0. I've mentioned this before but I really think people need to see the difference between the two points.
An "online diary" is a use case. Lot's of people have them. Before the rise of blog implementations we called them personal home pages. The actual technology evolved over time. There are now videoblogs, photoblogs, etc. but whatever the technology, they are still online diaries.
On the work-level, a "documentation development tool" can be implemented in a great many ways. It could even be implemented in separate application tools (e.g., a forum + a wiki, a workflow app + email + content management system, etc.) There are also many variations of this documentation development tool depending upon the needs. But across all of them the use cases have some common basis.
The idea is to figure out the common/base use cases that are useful and that can be replicated on a common basis such that it can be reused by many. That's where the real challenge lies. Technology after all will always come and go.
For that same reason, I consider the Web 2.0 as a superset of all these use-cases that everyone is so interested in. It is also why "Web 2.0 != blogging", "Web 2.0 != wikis", or any one specific technology. It is the sum of all the ways we interact with the Web under the new common aspects/principles of Web 2.0 (see end of this post).
The Web 2.0 entry on Wikipedia gives a snapshot of the many different technologies and topics that exist around it. Take a look at the image they provide:
From Wikipedia, 2006
The Wikipedia entry focuses more on the technologies behind Web 2.0 although it does give some description of the social impact behind it.
I consider this the difference between looking at the invention of the automobile itself versus what automobile-based transportation has done for the world. E.g., inside and outside a car there are many technological innovations: engine, transmission, electrical controls, ergonomics, safety structure, comfort systems, the highway system, etc.
But the impact of this mode of transportation is much wider: the trucking/containerization/delivery industry, suburbization of society, learning to drive (a right of passage of life for many teenagers), leisure travel, car racing, commuting and even telecommuting, etc. are things that have risen from exploding gas within a metal box to turn gears and push carts.
For that same reason, you can certainly be fascinated by the wonders of cars (I certainly spend many hours watching Speed Channel and reading car magazines), but the real impact of having the automobile is so much more.
I see this same difference in Web 2.0 technologies and the value of Web 2.0 itself.
I'm asked to explain what the Web 2.0 question often enough these days. There are plenty of things that have been put under this umbrella but rather than technologies it is the idea behind it that's most significant.
First of all what's "Web 1.0"?
This generally refers to the state of what the Web was primarily used for: a (mostly) consume-only service to access information. Even with all the many applications surfaced through the Web, the majority of the Web is still site for reading, gathering, and consuming information. The number of consumers is much greater than the number of producers.
To make the distinction, the thought behind "Web 2.0" is to instead make "producers" out of the majority of the users of the Web. Now, users not only visit the Web to gain information but also can contribute to the wealth of information that's out there.
It's a democratization of the Web if you will, allowing people not just to express their thoughts on their work, their lives, their emotions, etc. It is not just creating new written content, but contributing by taking existing data and "remixing" them to produce new content. It is also building application services that can work on data or app services that others produce.
Thus in the new world of "Web 2.0", people become producers of original and remixed data, content, and services.
There are quite a few books coming out around the topic of Web 2.0 and by leading literary minds like Dan Gilmor, and Thomas L Friedman. The topic is related to a number of ideas that can raise a lot of controversy including: freedom of expression, ownership of material produced, the right to use information and services of others, legal liability, and even globalization.
Web 2.0 existed from the very beginning of the Web itself, at least in concept. You could create home pages from very early on and even HTTP had rudimentary means to PUT and POST data. However, it was not until the rise of newer technologies that put it into the hands of the masses, and acknowledged significant impact on real-world issues that it really hit the mainstream.
With such a hotbed of activity, its no wonder that everyone wants to know more about how it applies to what they do:
As with any "gold rush", everyone is out to claim their stake in this. For some this rush is about new software. For others its about making yourself heard (and famous). For yet others, its about connecting with others of like mind.
Some common aspects I've observed:
My Linux mug is starting to crack.
It's not really a Linux mug, but Joe Barr gave me this present some years ago (when I was still with LinuxWorld), which was an oversized coffee mug with handpainted penguins and snowflakes on it. It's now starting to show some cracks after many, many times in the microwave.
My wife thinks its a Christmassy thing since it has snowflakes and penguins on it, although I think of it as a Linux thing because of the penguins and snowflakes (it's cool!). Funny how different a meaning it gives to each of us.
Also years ago, I tried convincing an analyst that there was a market for multi-player games. In 1995 that was a hard thing to prove. PC and console based games were far ahead of the text-based MUDs, MOOs, MUSHes, etc. that were around. However, a PC player long used to playing by themselves would either get it (fun with friends), or miss the point entirely ("this is so graphics-primitive!"). No one quite believed that people would actually pay to play on a regular basis.
By 1999 the time finally came for a new generation of graphical multiplayer games and MMORPGs. Another 5 years later it's widespread. In five more years it'll be almost difficult to consider a world without MMORPGs.
I guess I hadn't quite learned the business-language needed to convince folks.
I'm finally on vacation this year. It's been a very busy season since I started to get our dW Community program on a strategic course. As a reward to myself, I got a CD of Brazilian music ranging from samba to funk.
We are having a gathering of bloggers (GoB) at our next IBM Software University event in January. SWU is primarily an IBMer event and is held every year to gather the expertise from the many thousands of IBMers (FYI: IBM has about 300,000+ employees worldwide) who attend.
[I'll admit I made up the GoB word as a recursive definition of a group of bloggers. It's my Unix heritage.]
The GoB is at SWU because most of our bloggers on dW are currently IBMers. That's not to say we don't have non-IBMer bloggers. In fact, I really want to encourage many non-IBMer technical experts to consider joining our ranks.
However, we do like to make a distinction with our bloggers. We're not really an anyone-who-wants-to-blog site. There are plenty of blogs on all sorts of topics, but here at dW we'd like to focus primarily on technical and developer-oriented topics.
That means that we want to try to keep things on topic that developers would be interested in. This is a non-trivial exercise most of the time. How can you really tell what a blogger wants to talk about? In fact, there is often a lot of interesting information that seems less relevant to a bloggers main topic on occassion.
Bloggers need freedom to express themselves but at the same time, the blogspace is full of many blogs with random thoughts that wander aimlessly, and those that die because it is not an easy task to stay on topic.
Our idea of blogging is actually to find experts that really know their topic and can write about regularly. In print publishing, this is similar to finding a regular columnist; the difference being that columns tend to be much more limited in length, content type and stringent on topic. You can't really go off-topic for an issue with a column.
There could be a wide variety of topics that our bloggers can cover but the key goal is to have a blog that, on a regular basis, is of interest to our audience of programmers, testors, sysadmins, architects, and other technical folk. You can see from the wide range of topics and technologies that IBM is involved in, from our product base to the projects we are researching, to walk across the topic-horizon, learning as you go, could take more than what any single person could do in one lifetime.
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The next time you're sitting at an airport or at a cafe somewhere next to someone working on their computer, and you see a piece of sushi stuck to their laptop, really try to resist the temptation to say: "Hey, you have a piece of sushi stuck to your laptop." (Or if you're me, "You gonna eat that?")
Check out the new thumb drives from dynamism.com. You get your choice of over a dozen different types of nigiri or maki sushi, from standard maguro/tuna to uni/sea urchin. The decorative/fake sushi industry in Japan & S. Korea is finally going high-tech.
These USB flash memory cards aren't particularly large in size, and relatively expensive ($99 for 128MB), but when else is someone going to say "Hey, you've a piece of sushi stuck to your laptop."