Random thoughts from an unusual company

Communities and How Things Have Changed

Gabriella Davis  2 July 2012 14:46:44
I've been thinking a lot lately about my changing world and Tom's recent blog post on user groups has encouraged me to put my thoughts into words.  When I started working with ccMail I had no concept of a Community, in fact it wasn't until I started working with Lotus Notes and heard about Lotusphere that I became aware of such a thing.

That was 17 years ago. My first Lotusphere I didn't know anyone but I knew people by reputation. People who appeared answering questions on discussion forums or writing early "blogs".  I thought of them as The Elders Of The Community, people like Andrew Pollack, Rich Schwartz, Rocky Oliver, Carl Tyler, Bob Balaban and before knowing me they inspired and encouraged me by their enthusiasm and sharing of their expertise.

Well 17 years is a long time, lots has changed with all of us and certainly with technology but that Lotus Community has never gone away and through it I have met more inspirational people, too many to list here, who came along with the same commitment to the same community ideals. Many of these people are good friends now and I have tried to contribute as much as I can in my own way. Somewhere around 5 years ago things changed, the community had grown but for many it became about self promoting rather than sharing.   I learnt to tune out that noise.

So what's my point?  I now work with WAS, Sametime, Connections, Edge, IHS so where are the Communities for those?  

The truth is those Communities do exist in some form but I struggle to find my place in them as they don't seem to have the same goals of altruistic sharing and learning.  I know lots of great people in IBM who work with Notes and Domino but almost none within the Connections and Sametime teams.  That's my problem not theirs, I have to put the work in and I'm used to that,  it's just now the work I have to put is no longer about having deep technical knowledge and experience. Now I'm supposed to talk loudly about social as a concept as a business approach, as a methodology, but deploying and managing is what I do best. I"m not a business consultant, for that you want the guys from Ernst and Young :-)

So here's my decision. I'm leaving behind user groups and communities that are about "why" instead of "how".  I'm going to keep doing, learning and sharing in whatever forms I can, via my blog, via Connections101 via Skype chats and, if I can work out how, via twitter.  I love technology and what it can do so you'll also find me at technical conferences, on webcasts and podcasts, at customers and online installing, testing and talking technical about Domino, Traveler, Sametime, Connections and more.   My next step on this  new path is part of an initiative Paul Mooney will be announcing on his blog tomorrow

I sit here waving my optimism flag high with hope and expectations of all of us being able to build a new inspiring, vibrant community.

1Thomas Duff  02/07/2012 15:01:19  Communities and How Things Have Changed

Nicely stated, Gab. I've always had an issue over fitting in when it comes to groups formed around a concept (like "social") rather than getting something done/installed/coded. It's scary to launch off into a new community (for me it's SharePoint) when you know all your street cred to date goes back to zero. It's a struggle and a transition I hope I make, and I hope you can do the same... either join the ones that work for you or make your own.

2Mick Moignard  02/07/2012 15:17:31  Communities and How Things Have Changed

Good on yer, Gab. Totally agree; the useful groups are those that are about doing things and sharing how it's done and what the mistakes are. Doesn't matter what the subject matter itself is; this is where to learn and share.

3Joe Litton  02/07/2012 15:24:56  Communities and How Things Have Changed

Years back I was deep into VAX/VMS, and felt a deep sense of loss when my employer moved away from that world. There were other technologies in between, but 15 or so years ago, I started working in the Notes world (shortly before "Domino"). Once I started blogging, my world of contacts grew, and with Lotusphere and Twitter and Facebook etc, it really does feel like a TRUE community.

I'm just getting into SharePoint and Lombardi (IBM BPM) and other things, and am glad to also still be working with Notes. SO far, I have to echo the comments of others, that I've not seen the same deep community in other tech areas. But I'm new there. We shall see. It takes time to build real friendships.

Regardless, I'm extremely pleased that even though some of us move to other areas of tech (Google solutions, MS, whatever), we still are keeping in touch. That is very cool.

4Alan Head  02/07/2012 16:46:23  Communities and How Things Have Changed

Agree that there is a distinct lack of technical sharing going on in admin world - dev seems better served mainly through the efforts of OpenNTF. Certainly Connections101 is a light in the darkness - WAS communities are scary places for non-devs in my experience!

5Paul Mooney  02/07/2012 17:34:25  Communities and How Things Have Changed

On the admin side there is not much to share in the Lotus world these days. Not too much new has happened. Exception being Traveler HA recently.

But, there seems to be this amazing world where "if you keep talking about how great something is, people will want it" as opposed to "if you show the solution and simply show how it works, it will grow". I am used to the latter. Gab personifies the latter more than anyone I know.

I also think the former types of world will just change with every "net new" product they have been told is cool.

I will stick with figuring out something I believe works and then evangelize it with a combination of enthusiasm and technical knowledge. I know that way works (for me) and I can sleep at night.

6Thomas Duff  02/07/2012 19:02:08  Communities and How Things Have Changed

Dead on, Paul... It's why I can't get behind the "social" bandwagon as currently being pushed by the industry. It's being used as a buzzword to sell software, and it will last just as long as necessary to find the next killer buzzword to sell a new ton of software and continue to make profits.

True, there are components in software offerings that help you to interact with others. Call it "social" if you will. But at the end of the day, spending hours talking about "being social" means little when it comes to the trenches of making things work. If you only want to *talk* about social, then you're a salesperson, not a technical expert.