Tag Archives: Ian Hughes

Being social at work – for six years and more

GP 6I just posted to IBM’s internal blogging network, a short post to record my six-year anniversary as a user of the platform. I won’t share the exact content as it mostly had a load of internal links that would break outside of the corporate firewall, but I do want to stop and reflect.

Six years ago, of course, everything was different. We didn’t have an internal social network of the kind we have now (IBM Connections). We had rich user profiles within our corporate directory, we had an Intranet ID to login, and we had… well, we had a small pilot that someone had setup on our internal Technology Adoption Program (aka TAP), to see what would happen if individual IBMers were able to share their thoughts via blogs. That became known as BlogCentral, and progressed through four different versions over the next couple of years.

In the early days the community was small. There were no Blogging or Social Computing Guidelines, those were about to be developed, mostly by the small community that was in the process of forming; this was a little experiment. The experiment of posting what I was working on (a consultant in IBM Software Services for WebSphere at the time), the technical issues I was having, and any news or interesting links I’d found before the days of instant sharing via Twitter, led me to encounter and meet a huge variety of people. Good friendships formed – I got to know the amazing Roo Reynolds, Ian Hughes, Rob Smart, Kelly then-Drahzal-now-Smith, James Taylor, Martin Packer, Luis Suarez, Michael Martine, and so many others. I was invited to get involved in events, opportunities and projects that I would never have had the chance to even have known about before.

I found my voice in a crowd. I joined a tribe. I grew. I learned how powerful a network can be.

Today, IBM’s early experiments have borne fruit in a great variety of tools that we use day-to-day, and that we know can scale to support an organisation as diverse and large as IBM itself. We really do “walk the talk”. I’ve spoken about this journey often, of course, and I’m always happy to share my experiences and my story. And also – wow. That was just 6 years ago. The technology landscape has completely changed today, with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Slideshare, and so many other places to share and collaborate. It’s mind-boggling that things have moved so quickly.

I’ll be honest: I’m not posting to my blog 3 or 4 times a day as I might have done in my youthful enthusiasm, in those days when all I had was an internal blog and Sametime to keep me going… these days I share my knowledge and connect with my network far more widely, and more often, outside of the firewall (because, honestly, there’s rarely much to hide). That doesn’t mean I don’t still respect the medium of blogs. They are the “rocks in the real-time stream”, as my friend Stowe Boyd once styled them.

I’m glad I’m still a blogger, both at work and outside of it.

Image credit: holeymoon on Flickr, via a Creative Commons license

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Hail to the tribal chieftan

I’ve written more about this on my internal company weblog, but suffice it to say that I’ve blogged externally about my ongoing involvement with virtual worlds etc. and I’ve mentioned my minor Internet celebrity friend Mr Hughes on many occasions. I’m not going to go as far as to call him my Yoda, but he’s been a massive influence on me for the past few years.

Fare ye well.

On being part of a tribal movement

Looking back over the past few years, I find that I’ve somehow become part of a tribe: eightbar.

What is eightbar, again?

We’re a group of techie/creative people working in and around IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK. We have regular technical community meetings, well more like a cup of tea and a chat really, about all kinds of cool stuff. One of the things we talked about is that although there are lots of cool people and projects going on in Hursley, we never really let anyone know about them. So, we decided to try and record some of the stuff that goes on here in an unofficial blog, EightBar.

This hasn’t been part of “a grand plan”. All that happened was that before I was even “officially” a “Hursley person”, I got to know a bunch of people with whom I share attitudes and interests, and started to explore some new spaces with them – virtual worlds like Second Life, enterprise social computing, bleeding edge technologies, collaboration that extends outside of enterprise, geographic and social boundaries.

I am very fortunate to become good friends with some inspiring people such as Ian Hughes (epredator), Roo Reynolds, Rob Smart, Darren Shaw and Andy Stanford-Clark – among many, many others – and found myself being asked to talk about some of these new areas with IBM customers and other groups. Without even realising it, I started to be viewed as an authority on many of these topics. I’m immensely grateful that people like Ian and Roo recognised my passion to communicate and gave me these opportunities to break out of my day-to-day role.

Ian has a great presentation and a blog post on how all of this has come about, by the way.

I’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants for the past couple of years and I completely recognise that. It’s awesome that this little group, loose band, motley assortment, whatever we are – this body of interested techies and thinkers has been identified by top analyst James Governor as his Team of the Year.

This idea of grassroots movements at work is summed up in a great soundbite from the Don Tapscott interview with Net@Night this past week (listen out for this one, about 41 minutes into the discussion)

… social networks are the new operating systems of business…

He’s so very, very right. I owe my successes in the past 2-3 years to my social networks – and to eightbar.

(this is Captain Slow, signing off…)