Thursday Sep 17, 2009

Recognizing the Community Builders

It's always nice to see people recognize your work -- even in small ways and especially in the community building business (which is generally not well understood). Sun's employees around the world who build community every day are doing important grass-roots organizing work, and they have a great deal to be proud of. Over the last few years, these people have built global communities using tools such as blogs, wikis, forums, and even entire Free and Open Source development projects. Thousands of employees have been involved, and they have engaged users, customers, developers, and students in virtually every region of the world with a connection to the net. Add to that all the employees who regularly go out into the community and participate at user groups and industry conferences and organize events, and the reach grows even deeper. Line it all up. It's been quite a remarkable accomplishment. I think we should write a book. The people who did the building should tell the story.

Monday Apr 27, 2009


Linda tells us that BSC is 5 today. That`s amazing. I had no idea. I totally lost track. Well, the truth is I can`t remember my own birthday let alone anyone else`s, so no one should be surprised. I think I take BSC for granted now. It`s just there. It just works. But I shouldn`t take it for granted at all. The application transformed my work life and enabled me to communicate with people all over the world. For that I am most grateful. We even launched OpenSolaris on BSC, and at the time that was a bold and controversial move for Sun -- and it caused a few arguments as I recall as well. Back then many of us were new to blogging and communicating in the open, but BSC provided an excellent platform for those involved in OpenSolaris to tell their stories. Directly. No filters.

My first post was a on the 30th of April 2004, just a couple of days after the so-called opening. Initially, I didn`t even know the damn thing was turned on. I followed Danese into a conference room one day and it turned out to be some blogging meeting. I heard rumors but didn`t know anything. I just sat down. I met Tim Bray for the first time in that meeting. Simon was there. Will. And some others but I can`t remember everyone. Half way though, I leaned over and looked at Will`s laptop and he was poking around on BSC. I looked at the URL and said something like "Is that thing on? That`s outside? You didn`t tell anyone?" And he responded (casually, of course) with something like "Yah, it`s live. I just turned it on." You have to realize how revolutionary that "just turning it on" bit was for Sun five years ago. But that`s pretty much what they did. People found out soon enough, though, eh?

Anyway, Linda Skrocki has been one of the leaders of the BSC effort, and many of the founding members of the platform are still around and still helping guide us all. BSC helped liberate many of the voices we so freely read today because the community is based on trust. I don`t think OpenSolaris would have been quite the same without BSC. I wouldn`t either, actually. I`d be getting a lot more sleep. Like now. It`s 2:30 in the morning and where am I? On BSC.

Thursday Jan 29, 2009

Bad News

When No News Is Bad News: "This matters because of the unique role journalism plays in a democracy. So much public information and official government knowledge depends on a private business model that is now failing." -- James Warren

This is a devastating article about the state of American journalism. And although there are many reports in blogs and the mainstream media covering the fall of journalism, this is a particularly sobering look. The opening story about John Crewdson moved me. I remember studying his stuff on AIDS, Robert Gallo, and Luc Montagnier a long time ago. I probably still have that special report, actually. Warren has many other upsetting stories in his article. Very well written piece. Read it. It`s important. The issues hit you right over the head.

Saturday Dec 06, 2008

The Power of Mainstream Publicity

Every time I chat with bloggers who feel the mainstream media is not that powerful anymore I trip over an article like this -- One man's military-industrial-media complex. This piece is a textbook lesson in the power of mainstream public relations to drive a marketing campaign. It`s perfect. And, in this case, it worked like a dream, too. Now, the article is disturbing because it talks about the selling of a war, but that`s not the point. It`s reality. And to not realize that is a delusion.

Wednesday Apr 16, 2008

Congrats, Linda Skrocki

I know Melanie and Mary already bogged about this, but I couldn't resist. I'm a fan. Check out Linda Skrocki being profiled as a leader in corporate social media -- The New Robert Scobles: Seven Leading Corporate Social Media Evangelists Today. Very cool.

Saturday Apr 12, 2008

g11n Blogs

Melanie Parsons Gao is collecting a fine list of Sun's g11n blogs. This is good reading for me (well, what I can actually read, anyway). Although Sun is opening its stuff and building engineering communities around the world, our internal software development operations have been global for quite some time. It's interesting to see the distinction between the various regions and cultures and how the people involved in globalization are helping build communities across all those firewalls in all those countries.

Friday Oct 05, 2007

Mark's Musings

Very cool to see my buddy Mark Herring out there blogging -- Mark's Musings. Mark is one of the very best marketers at Sun, and his blog could be very hot very soon.

Thursday Aug 30, 2007


A blog into Schwartz's mind: "The number one role of a leader is to communicate. And the number one role of a CEO is to be the chief communicator." -- JIS

Thursday Jul 05, 2007

"Who'da thunk it?"

Sun's (Re-)Emergence as a Performance Leader: "A blogging CEO? Sun working with Intel? Open source version of Solaris? Who'da thunk it?" -- Zack Urlocker

Wednesday Jul 04, 2007

Asian Blog Minefields

Navigating Asia's Minefields in Corporate Blogging -- "Regional companies are looking to multinationals such as Sun Microsystems as they set policies about what employees can -- and can't -- say on the Net." -- BusinessWeek.

Interesting that Sun is getting a lot of attention here in Asia for the company's global blogging efforts. Sun Japan itself has about 40 bloggers (which I list in my right nav bar), and some of them are pretty highly ranked and well known throughout Japan. It's a very bloggie company here in Tokyo.

Friday Apr 27, 2007

Happy Birthday BSC!

We're three. My goodness. I can't believe it's been three years.

A few months before BSC opened, I knew some people had been working on a blogging platform for Sun. But I wasn't involved so I didn't pay much attention. Then I found myself in a blogging meeting with Tim Bray, Simon Phipps, Danese Cooper, Will Snow, and a few other people (sorry, I can't remember who else was there but there were a few more). That was the first time I met Tim, by the way, and it was a great thrill. Great hat, too. Now, I have no clue why I was actually in this meeting. I think I was walking with Danese as she walked into the meeting and I just followed and sat down. I pretty much knew everyone, so it seemed ok. I don't think I said anything in the meeting, but that's when I learned that BSC was already open and very few people even knew. There was no press release, as I recall, and I don't remember any internal announcement, either. It was just, well, there. Will was sitting on my left in the meeting, and he showed me the site on his laptop. I think I said, "That's outside?" He had flipped the switch a day or so earlier I think. That's when I told myself that I had to do something with this thing and I had to do it right away.

Simon and Danese had been on me for about a year previously to start blogging, but I wasn't ready. I was too distracted at the time and didn't really get the significance of the tool. I didn't get that this one tool could change absolutely everything. My first post was only a few sentences but it took hours to write (and re-write). What the heck do you say on this thing? Who wants to hear what I have to say? And around I went. Well, I tend to blog a lot these days, so I got pretty quick along the way and finding things to say isn't hard anymore, either. And I blog for an audience of one -- me -- so I don't worry that much about what I say most of the time. I try not to think too much about the fact that it's all on the Internet, though. That helps.

BSC is a remarkably empowering tool for communications and community building, and it offers opportunities for everyone involved.

Congratulations BSC!

Monday Apr 16, 2007

O'Reilly's Code and OpenSolaris

I applaud Tim O'Reilly in his effort to quantify a code of conduct to encourage respectful participation in open communities on the Internet. It sounds more than reasonable to me. In fact, I see no downside whatsoever.

Tim O'Reilly: "A lot of people feel intimidated by those who attack them as against free speech if they try to limit unpleasantness. If there's one thing I'd love to come out of this discussion, it's a greater commitment on the part of bloggers (and people who run other types of forums) not to tolerate behavior on the internet that they wouldn't tolerate in the physical world. It's ridiculous to accept on a blog or in a forum speech that would be seen as hooliganism or delinquency if practiced in a public space."

I agree.

Also, for many people it's intimidating to just view attacks on others for fear of being attacked themselves. I've seen this on the Internet, of course, but I've also seen it right here on the OpenSolaris project. Our lists can get hot at times -- just as any passionate community -- but that tends to drive down traffic and push new people away. I notice this because one of my job responsibilities is to help increase participation across cultural and language barriers. So when I ask people why they may not be engaging, sometimes I'll get, "Why, so I can get attacked? No way." Now, this isn't a comment I get every day, but it's certainly enough for me to notice. And I'm noticing it more recently with nasty comments being directed toward executives, marketing people, lawyers, and even other communities. Most of the comments are extreme and unsubstantiated, of course, but I'm  getting concerned that too many of them are going unanswered. I've written about this multiple times over the past few years, but I'm surprised to see that very few see the same problem I do. Maybe I'm just wrong. Could be. So, I'm going to start documenting it -- starting with this and this and this -- and I'll come back in a couple of months and let you know what I've found. If I'm wrong, my documentation will fall flat on its face, people will flame me, and everything will go right along as it always has. Shows my bias, I know, but what can I say. But if I'm right, I think I'll have a pretty good argument to assert that we need to be a bit more respectful of others before we can earn the respect we feel we deserve.

I fully expect to find a distinct minority of flamers, but that's not my point. My point is that these guys are going unchallenged. And while mandates and decrees generally demonstrate weak leadership and an unhealthy community, so do attacks and intimidation. Sometimes, it's the simple assertion of what's positive backed up occasionally by a few key voices and the flamers are kept at bay. And I think that's really all O'Reilly is doing with the Blogger Code of Conduct -- providing a safe space for some honest conversation and allowing other voices to be heard.

Thursday Feb 08, 2007

No More Paper

Some interesting quotes from Arthur Sulzberger at the New York Times -- NY Times publisher: Our goal is to manage the transition from print to internet.

On dumping paper: "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either," he says. Well, that's cool. No more ink on paper. I go out of my way to not buy ink and paper if at all possible and have done so for years now. It's simply too wasteful. What the world doesn't need is more garbage blowing around in the streets.

On Bloggers: "We are curators, curators of news. People don't click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust," he says. Well, that's certainly true. I do want some news when I go to the NYT (and I go there often). But I'd like to read blogs from your reporters as well, and I could care less what your editorial board says. Reporters out in the field are the ones I want to hear from, not the guys in the top floor. The reporters have opinions, though, and I don't believe for a minute that news stories are not affected by those opinions. There's nothing wrong with that, per say, but I'd just like it acknowledged so I know what the perspective is, that's all. I've never read an objective piece of writing from any human being in my life, by the way, but there's nothing wrong with that because people are not objective. Arthur then goes on to say: "Once upon a time, people had to read the paper to find out what was going on in theater. Today there are hundreds of forums and sites with that information," he says. "But the paper can integrate material from bloggers and external writers. We need to be part of that community and to have dialogue with the online world." Cool. Nice to see the Times advance online.

Tuesday Dec 26, 2006

Participatory Mobs on the Internet

The Blog Mob is one of the funniest articles attacking bloggers I've read in a long time. It's not a credible criticism of blogs or bloggers because the language is too extreme to be taken seriously, but it's worth a read because it demonstrates how far some writers are from understanding the Internet. There are many humorous bits in there, too. I found this sentence especially delicious: "The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior." Wild, eh? Oh, there's more. A lot more. Enjoy ...

Tuesday Nov 07, 2006

Japanese Bloggers

Japanese continues to come in second just behind English for all blogs globally, according to Dave Sifry at Technorati. That's an amazing accomplishment when you consider how many people speak Japanese and how many people speak English. I wonder why the Japanese are such prolific bloggers?

Wednesday Oct 18, 2006

Corporate Blogging

Interesting article on CNN/Money about corporate blogging that's done right and done wrong. I'm not sure why some companies are getting themselves into trouble with this form of communication. It seems really simple to me, but hey, we all make mistakes so it's hard to be hard on someone attempting to be more transparent. And I understand the recent PR example quite well because I know that business and those errors speak for themselves. For a nice review of that one, check out Dave Taylor's piece from the other day. It's a piece I tend to agree with a great deal .

Sun, on the other hand, seems to be just surfing right along with blogging. I think I have a theory as to why -- Sun grew from the community so it understands how to behave within a community, and we have a large number of engineers participating in communities of all kinds -- some Sun run, some run by other vendors, some run by standards bodies, and some by foundations. All these interactions take place on open mail lists or forums. So, when blogging came along it was really nothing new, and people seemed ready and eager to get going. It was just a new way of doing what they had been doing in the past -- communicating openly and honestly. Not perfectly, but openly and honestly for sure. And that can take you a long way.

Monday Sep 04, 2006


Interesting -- Microsoft's PR agency admits it doesn't "get" blogs!. What's not to get about blogging this late in 2006? Just blog. The lessons are obvious, immediate, painful, humbling, powerful, exciting, and [insert your favorite lesson here]. But you can't understand blogging from the outside looking in, so don't bother trying. In this case, understanding comes through direct experience, not observation. Which means you have to blog. Only then will your opinions change or at least be based on something substantial. And if you hate it, that's fine. It's not for everyone. But who am I to talk. I "don't get" Web 2.0, so maybe WaggEd shouldn't listen to me, eh?

Thursday Jun 15, 2006

JohnnyL: First Adobe Exec Blogger

Check out JohnnyL's new blog at Adobe. It doesn't surprise me that he's blogging, but according to one of the comments on his first post, he's the first exec at Adobe to blog. That's pretty cool. Should be interesting to watch things emerge over there down in San Jose.


Sunday Apr 16, 2006

A Blog is Essential?

There's much to agree with and disagree with in this Boston Globe article -- Blogs 'essential' to a good career.

''For your career, a blog is essential," says Phil van Allen, a faculty member of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

''It's the new public relations and it's the new home page. Instead of a static home page, you have your blog," he said. It's a way to let people know what you are thinking about the field that interests you.

Sure, I get that blogs can be used as a PR tool and that you can blog and link your way to new heights of popularity and a new career. No question about it. But it's you doing that, not the blog. You have earned it, not your blog. The blog is just one (albeit powerful) syndication tool.

But is this tool of blogging "essential" for your career? What about those who don't blog but who are seriously successful and who have earned deep credibility within their communities? I see these people all over the place. I don't know about all this. I think the marketing people are making too much of this in this article. Personally, I'm becoming more interested in the non-bloggers at this point -- the ones who earn credibility without publicity. Those people fascinate me. What's the quality supporting their success? Whatever it is I bet it transcends time and tool.

Back to a few more quotes from the articles ...

Employers regularly Google prospective employees to learn more about them. Blogging gives you a way to control what employers see, because Google's system works in such a way that blogs that are heavily networked with others come up high in Google searches.

And coming up high is good: ''People who are more visible and have a reputation and stand for something do better than people who are invisible," says Catherine Kaputa, branding consultant and author of ''Blogging for Business Success."

But pick your topics carefully and have a purpose. ''The most interesting blogs are focused and have a certain attitude," says van Allen. ''You need to have a guiding philosophy that you stick to. You cannot one minute pontificate on large issues of the world and the next minute be like, 'My dog died.'"

Note the word "control" in the second sentence of the first graph. Interesting perspective, eh? Also, the bit about the people who are more visible with a so-called reputation doing better than the ones who are "invisible" is way too restrictive to be a credible statement. Just because someone is not in the public eye or a blog star doesn't mean he or she is invisible and lacks a reputation. That's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard about blogging. And the last paragraph advising that you not blog about "large issues of the world" and then also talk about personal issues is pejorative at best. Why not? Who says? Perhaps I want to know that someone's dog died, what the heck is wrong with that?

Aha. Ok, that's pretty much it. There are also eight tips to being a good blogger. I'd add one more: (9) If you are blogging strictly to enhance your career and using branding, marketing, and PR tactics, your blog may not earn as much credibility as you think. Remember, many people can easily see through blogs used simply as vehicles to publicize. Sometimes it's really quite obvious, too.


Tuesday Mar 28, 2006

Rules for Blogs

I suppose everything has to have rules. Especially in blogging. The latest set of rules comes from Nicholas Carr -- Seven rules for corporate blogging -- in response to Robert Scoble's somewhat interesting week. You gotta admit, Scoble just lets it all hang out there, right? I continue to be impressed with his daily displays, too. It's just too much fun to watch and learn from -- even though I obviously disagree with his Windows and Office stuff. I also wonder what he eats to keep up that pace. I only met Scoble once, but he has a remarkable ability to make you feel comfortable, which is cool because I tend to freeze up around stars. I suppose that's why he's a good blogger. Seems like an interesting guy.

Anyway, Carr (also an interesting guy, although he's more quiet than his writing implies) offers seven rules to guide new corporate bloggers. I can see how Carr's ideas would be useful for a fairly conservative company offering a marketing-based corporate blog experience. Not Sun, in other words. But there are three sentences stuffed in his list of rules that really go against my experience blogging for Sun.

According to Carr:

If you give bloggers too much freedom, they may "go native" and tarnish your reputation by writing something stupid.

I'm not sure what it means to "go native" but here at we have a massive amount of freedom. Heck, the original blogging policy was simply "don't be stupid" or something like that. Even the current policy is very empowering. For Scott and Jonathan to have given us all this freedom is extraordinary. It builds trust. And when someone gives you a gift like that, they are telling you that you've earned it. As a result, you honor the relationship, and you don't really need rules to keep you in line. I'm sure we've had a few people do a dumb thing or two these past two years, but it's really quite rare considering how many bloggers we have.

Next ...

For companies, blogging should be treated as another channel for corporate communications, with its own strengths and weaknesses. You should use that channel to get your message out, not to give employees a sand pile for self-expression.

On this one, I think is successful because we don't deliver messages from corporate communications, and the team that set up had nothing to do with corporate communications. Blogging and corporate communications are two entirely different paradigms. And as far as the "sand pile for self-expression" is concerned ... well ... after two years of blogging I still here from developers and customers that they are thankful for all our blogs because they can get to know the Sun people because we are trusted to express ourselves personally. That's a powerful community-building dynamic. So, I think we need to keep the sand pile. It's fun playing in the sand, you know.

So, there you have it. I hope I didn't take those three sentence out of context too much. Carr's post (as usual) is long, so take a peak and see what you think.


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