Monday Sep 24, 2007

Why Second Life? Why Web 2.0?

For our employee training sessions through 2007, we're going a bit outside of our usual realm of training topics. In the past, we've typically covered information resources offered through Sun Learning Services and Digital Libraries & Research, and how best to use those resources.

But in the sessions we're doing now and throughout the rest of 2007, we're covering things like Second Life, and Web 2.0 and social networking tools. Why are we bothering with these things when they don't appear to be directly related to information and resources currently available?

There are a few reasons. The most immediate reason is because we get asked about this stuff. The Digital Libraries & Research (DL&R) staff have recently done some recorded sessions for Sun's Employee Communications and Communities group, helping get them up-to-speed on technologies like wikis, RSS, virtual worlds and other social networking tools.

Why did they turn to Digital Libraries & Research? Well, because we work with a lot of different groups within Sun who are already playing around with these technologies - and we're also early investigators and adopters ourselves. The information profession has been investigating and dealing with a lot of these tools for a few years now and following developments very closely. As information professionals (aka librarians), it's our role to ensure that our customers can connect with quality information (in whatever form) from where and when they need it. Social networking tools allow us the ability to drive information and content in various forms in new and exciting ways - ways that people just coming into the workforce expect it to be.

And, the DL&R team likes to experiment with cutting edge tools to see how we can adopt these technologies for keeping Sun informed about our information resources and services. They also allow us to embed ourselves deeper into the communities at Sun.

The next reason is that we continue to see a demand out there from Sun employees to get up-to-date on what's going on with these developments. In other words, the Communications and Communities group isn't the only one interested in this stuff - we all seem to be fascinated by what's going on with the explosion of these social networking technologies. What are they? Why would you use them? How do I get started using them? How is Sun using them? A good example is the recently launched site, a wiki tool that Sun employees can use to build a community with Sun customers and partners - as well as anyone else who would like to participate.

The answers to the 'what', 'why' and 'how' of these tools are continually changing and evolving, which requires the DL&R team to stay current in this space - and to continue to offer regular updates on these technologies through our training sessions.

Next, these are learning and stretch opportunities for us, too. While we're certainly familiar with a lot of this technology, we're continually learning more about them. In order to present knowledgeably about these things, we gotta know what we're talking about, right? I personally find that I need to really dig into these technologies before doing a training session on them. And that's a great learning opportunity for me, too.

And the more we learn about these technologies, the more actively we'll be able to bring Sun employees information through these new tools. For example, we're already experimenting with the micro-blogging tool Twitter to communicate about our training sessions and other information of interest to Sun employees. We see this as a new way to not only market what we do, but to actively bring information to employees' attention through the channels they're already using.

Lastly - these technologies are fun. It's fascinating to see how some of these online communities get built out, what connections you can make, and the many, many innovative ways people use these tools. Have you seen 43 things, for example? It's a tool to help you think about what your goals are in life, but in a social way - so that you can track your progress, connect with others who have the same goal, etc.

In our training sessions, we only have about an hour to review the broad spectrum of Web 2.0 and social networking tools, so we aren't able to get too detailed. But these sessions are already sparking interest among Sun employees.

Scott Brown
Digital Libraries & Research


Sharing stories of information management, collaboration, integration, sharing, and social enterprise applications for corporate information services.


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