Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

Exiting the Sun Ride

Today is my last day at Sun. It has been a thrilling ride and one that I would do all over again. I've learned a lot, worked with some of the most brilliant people on the planet, worked for the world's best management team who was more than willing to accommodate my requests to work on programs that most inspired me & happy to give me room to get my groove on, and now...I walk away with more experience and friends than I ever imagined I'd acquire through a job. I kicked butt & had fun! (I hope someone creates a tee-shirt for that McNealy-ism.)

Hands down, my favorite role (ever) is the one I am now exiting. Being your tour guide for Sun's community sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.) went beyond just a job -- it became an obsession. I was lucky enough to work directly with tens of thousands of Sun fans worldwide & Sun employees in every organization and in every rank in the company -- from interns to our CEO. I've enjoyed every minute & every conversation (well, minus the spammers, trolls, & an unnamed executive blogger who asked me to air brush his mustache off his profile picture).

While it makes me sad that this is my last blog post on this site, I welcome change and wish my Sun fellows well as they embark on the next incarnation of Sun. "Thank you" to each of you for such fond memories -- especially those who helped make the community sites such thriving & robust communities. It's no wonder Sun is seen as a pioneer in this space and a poster child for corporate social media done right.

The world is a whole lot more connected thanks to social sites, so there's no need to say good-bye -- I'm just right here, here, here & here. I have a few irons in the fire & will be sure to keep you posted on my next big thing. :-)

To new beginnings!

Note: Comments are closed on this blog, but we can chat over here.

Monday Oct 12, 2009

[Poll] Would you pay for on-demand conference session streams?

As is the case with a lot of us due to budget constraints, I enjoy my share of virtual conference attendance via live streams with integrated chat functionality. This is good. It’s cost-effective. It enables a lot of us to remotely attend and participate when we otherwise can’t fork out the dough to physically attend, and this travel-less approach is eco-friendly.

I’m incredibly grateful to conference organizers who enable this kind of remote attendance, but would love to see multi-channel streams/chats that enable even deeper conference participation. I’d even support a pay-per-session capability. How about you?

<script src="http://twtpoll.com/js/badge.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="http://twtpoll.com/badge/?twt=qz6tps&b=1" type="text/javascript"></script>

Tuesday Oct 06, 2009

Venue needed: Nov 19th Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner

Deirdré Straughan kicked off a Facebook wall post requesting help with finding a Denver based venue for the November 19th Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner. Per Deirdré "Venue could be a dinner or drinks-and-appetizers kind of place, I don't have strong feelings about it but suspect a place with room to mingle is best."

This is a fantastic networking opportunity for attendees & a great outreach opportunity for a company who may be interested in hosting/sponsoring the event. The last dinner, hosted at the Sun Microsytems Broomfield campus, had move than 80 attendees. Sun was generous enough to provide food & drinks (approx cost ~$1500). As of this post, there are 131 members in the Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner Facebook group, so it's reasonable to expect an even larger crowd at the next dinner.

If you're interested in hosting the event and/or becoming a member of the Colorado Front Range Girl Geek Dinner group, you can do so via the Facebook page.

Monday Oct 05, 2009

Checking off the "Be a guest blogger" box

Since my 1st official blog post 5+ years ago, I've been a sole blogger (only blogger contributing to a blog), a soul blogger ;-), a group blogger, a behind-the-scenes blog helper (for friends, interesting people & high profile people with a blogphobia), a blog trainer, a blog site admin, but never an invited guest blogger...until now!

Thanks to another "serendipitous connection via social networking", as I call it, I can now sport around the badge titled "Guest Blogger". It all started when @KylePLacy, Author of Twitter Marketing for Dummies, tweeted the following to me "I really think you should do a guest post on my blog. What do you think?" To which I responded "What if my neglected blog finds out? What did you have in mind?".

I went with a topic that is often discussed: Corporate Social Media Policies -- something Sun, specifically the Sun Blog Founders, nailed several years ago and continues to be a solid template for other companies social media policies. Have a look at the guest post "Do Tight Corporate Social Media Policies Help or Hinder?" & let me know what you think.

Friday Sep 18, 2009

Embracing Social Communities: A CIO's Crib Sheet

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Bob Worrall, Sun's Chief Information Officer, and my all time favorite marketing goddess, Mary Smaragdis, about how Sun builds community and enables collaboration via social networking tools. Have a look...


Social networks are everywhere — but what do they really mean to the CIO? Our experts discuss the implications, the opportunities, and the trends.

There’s no question that social networking has permeated our lives as CIOs — both on a personal front as we use these forums for communicating, and on a professional front as we put systems and policies in place to manage our organizations’ use of these communities. For my column this month, I’ve invited two social community experts within Sun to join me to discuss this phenomenon and what it means for CIOs. Mary Smaragdis, Director of Sun News Network and New and Social Media, manages Sun’s corporate activities in social media spaces, user-generated content spaces, and virtual worlds. Linda Skrocki, Sr. Engineering Program Manager for Sun's high-volume external-facing community web properties, is involved with running Sun’s high-volume Web properties.

Bob: Mary, let’s start with you. How are you defining the social community space in your role?

Mary: The social community space is about first-person conversations on the network. Within Sun’s social community spaces, people are conversing about their work and their passions around work. They use these platforms to engage their stakeholders, whether they are customers, prospects, media, or others. The network dramatically elevates these conversations so that they reach huge potential audiences.

Linda: My responsibility is to enable those conversations Mary just described. When we open up a conversation to the marketplace, we need to have the toolsets to enable it. Sun has a variety of social community participants — some are very savvy technology-wise and are comfortable with social media tools. Others aren’t. So we provide tools and training to maximize peoples’ time with these media. Social networking, blogging, and wikis aren’t for everyone all of the time. And while we have a very liberal policy, we have usage guidelines so that people learn when it’s appropriate to use a blog as opposed to a wiki, for example. Because of this safety net, employees feel comfortable having organic conversations in the marketplace — which I think has been a huge factor in our success in this space.

Bob: What guidance do you give when adoption of these tools varies based on geography, language or even age?

Mary: Social media sites like Facebook and MySpace are most well-known in the U.S., but there are dozens of social media platforms around the world. As a CIO looking to extend your conversations to these places, you’ll want to understand the equation for adoption on the different platforms in different geographies.

As for age, MySpace and Facebook started out in a younger demographic, but have moved beyond the millennials. Certainly younger age groups have been more liberal with putting their information out there. Older age groups still tend to be cautious. This is a big transition — much like email was — and people are becoming more comfortable with how it works. This is just the next evolution of communication tools — for business and social communication — and there is definitely an adoption curve across geographies and age demographics.

Bob: What are some benefits of embracing social communities in terms of engaging customers, prospects, and investors?

Linda: Wikis.sun.com has proven to be a powerful tool for Sun employees (tech writers, engineers, etc.), who are globally distributed, to collaboratively create and iterate technical and program-specific content with customers, partners, and other members of the community who share common interests.

Blogs.sun.com has been an amazing success story for Sun. One of the primary reasons is because we’ve created a set of guidelines for employees to follow, thereby keeping Sun and the employees out of trouble. Over 10% of our company is blogging. We have 4,500 bloggers who have posted 137,000 entries. Within those entries, we have 153,000 comments, which tells us that there really is a two-way conversation happening.

Another success area is forums.sun.com which is one of our oldest and biggest communities. This is where people interested in Sun products can converse and help each other. It is a community-driven environment for users to get quick answers and engage with other users who share a commonality — usage of a particular technology for example. Over 4 million messages by approximately 1 million contributors are posted there.

Mary: To add some numbers to that, in the past 12 months, Sun’s bloggers have pulled in more than 8.3 million unique visitors. Forums.sun.com has seen more than 15 million unique visitors.

Bob: Those bring home some powerful examples of how these technologies can benefit both companies and individuals. I know from my own IT staff that blogs, wikis, and forums, even Twitter, allow them to reach support groups that otherwise they may have had to pay for, so we’re certainly using these technologies to drive down costs.

Once a company has decided to engage in social communities, what are the areas a CIO needs to think about as they begin preparing their organization?

Mary: There are two areas that are critical to success. The first is determining, as an organization, if you are prepared to be good contributors. Do you have a clear understanding of what the thresholds are, what the guidelines are? Sun’s guidelines of public disclosure have been held up as a benchmark and I encourage folks to take a look. The other key area is the infrastructure itself. How is it architected? Do you build it or host it yourself or outsource?

Linda: I agree. Policy-wise, it is important to identify your risk and transparency tolerances. You must keep in mind that this is part of your brand. Identify how often you are going to participate from a time-investment standpoint and then get training and evangelism to support that. Then, you need to analyze what kind of infrastructure you want. Do you need full control over your scalability, uptime, performance, feature set, and data or can you get by with using third party provided services? Can you afford to not have full control over your data and the availability of your site? Could you afford to lose all your data if someone else controlled it and lost it?

Bob: That brings up a good point. Many people consider these tools to not have critical business value and place them in the category of “interesting.” My advice, for all the reasons just brought up, is to treat them as mission-critical business applications, if for no other reason than issues of privacy and data control.

For the average CIO, who are the key stakeholders across the company that you should get engaged with as you adopt social media strategies and policies?

Mary: Definitely your CEO, because he/she can influence the success of your program. Jonathan Schwartz set a positive tone early on with bloggers. He blogged in a very open manner and left his comments section open for folks to read. We also engaged our privacy folks as well as folks in trademarks, export, legal, and HR.

Bob: What are some common pitfalls you’ve seen?

Linda: People sometimes forget that these tools are for organic conversations — not one-way publishing platforms for contrived messaging. Trying to over-control or command the conversations of a community would be considered misuse.

Bob: What is the trajectory both for CIOs and businesses at large as they think about this space?

Mary: These trends are well-entrenched and will continue to grow in the trajectories we’ve seen. The models we have for communicating and collaborating are increasingly becoming anchored around technology. The choices CIOs make will have ever-increasing reach in terms of how future models need to be anchored. This will be the way we communicate, collaborate, exchange, and engage in commerce for a very long time.

Linda: And I would add that people need to be open to new technologies. Blogging came out and people loved it. Then micro-blogging came out. Once that happened, there was a question about whether blogging still had a place. There still is a place for those more in-depth conversations. You can only say so much in 140 characters. My advice is to be open and try the new social technologies as they come along, but don't feel compelled to use every one.

Bob: That’s terrific advice because one thing is certain — change. Twitter may be big today, but something new is around the corner. So my advice is the same — stay open to new ideas and technologies and stay abreast of what’s going on in the marketplace.

Thank you all for joining me this month. Until next time,

Bob Worrall

Wednesday Sep 16, 2009

Some "feel good" Outside Perspective

I just received a Tweet from @kbladow that made my day. It lead me to the following Technola blog post -- which means a lot coming from a non Sun person (not that kudos from Sun peeps aren't just as sweet, but we drink from the same Kool-aid fountain :-)). Thank you Kate and thank you @emzee for the tweeted advice. @emzee is my web design partner at Sun.

Friday Sep 11, 2009

Still think corporate participation in Social Media is optional?

Still think you can fully control your brand or inevitable conversations about your company? Statistics show otherwise -- which is why encouraging and engaging in open dialog on your own front porch will help make your company and products stronger, more accurately understood and more widely known.

Via Kyle Lacy:

You may own your digital footprint, but will it be there tomorrow?

You know the drill. You register for the next shiny social networking site and click the Terms of Use "Accept" button faster than the speed of light. Most of us never read a word of the lengthy legal foo because it's boring and it makes our eyes bleed and we're in a hurry to lifecast our next thought before the moment is lost, or we want in before the crowd shows up and ruins the novelty.

In our haste, are we giving up ownership of bits of our digital selves or blindly banking on the fact that those bits won't be monetised by the site owners? Or worse, making the assumption that our content won't go poof one day without warning?

I'm definitely guilty as charged in this regard, but have made a vow to at least read enough of the legalese on the sites I currently post content to so I know the rights that matter to me most:

  1. Do I own my content on this site?
  2. Does the site co-own my content?
  3. If they co-own my content, what can they do with it?

Most site's terms of use agreements lean far, far over to protecting the site owners, but some totally get that it's in their best interest to take care of their community members by granting them (co)ownership their content. Examples:

Twitter: "Twitter is allowed to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" your tweets because that's what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you."

Facebook: "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook..." (it's worth reading the dots on this one).

Sun Blogs\*: "Under the license, you will get to use and copy your blog in its entirety, and we can keep your entire blog in place at http://blogs.sun.com." \*Side note: Note that this is a corporate blog site. Sun has always been a leader in defining sensible corporate social content guidelines, so it's not entirely surprising that they'd progressively cover this base as well. It's good to know your rights as an employee who contributes social media content to company sanctioned sites.


OK, so you own your content. Now what?

Ownership is just half the battle. Assuming you own a copy of your content, does any of that matter if you don't religiously back-up a local copy? Not really. Most sites have a sensible back-up strategy, but there's no guarantee that they'll restore missing or damaged content and there's definitely no guarantee that they'll perpetually host your content so your children's, children's, children can cherish your immortal and compelling lifecasts.

In addition to knowing your content ownership rights, before you decide on posting content to a site, be sure to know if there's a feature that enables exporting of your content. Alternatively, check-out services that make this process a bit more convenient, but all of the above applies to them too.

Thursday Sep 10, 2009

Community Moderation: A Success Story

Sun Forums is one of Sun's longest running community sites. It's been around for ~8 years. It's grown by leaps and bounds and continues to be one of our most active sites. There are currently more than 4 million messages posted by nearly 1 million contributors. The site see ~44 million page views annually (or 3.7 million/month) -- amazing traffic & volumes of rich community-driven content.

While the majority of contributions are positive, as with any community site, there are going to be occasional disruptions in the form of derailed conversations, abusive posts, etc. We struggled a bit with implementing a protocol that would scale to effectively manage this issue.

As a collaborative effort between the team that manages the Sun Forums, the Sun Legal team and the Sun Forums Community, a sensible Community Moderation Program was defined, then implemented on January 26th, 2007. Since then, via the same collaborative effort, the program has been fine-tuned.

In addition to our community nominated volunteer moderators generously sharing useful information with their peers and helping to set a positive tone throughout the Sun Forums, they've also leveraged the site's community moderators features to take the following actions in response to content that violate site terms or are simply posted in the wrong forum:

  • Blocked 793 accounts
  • Blocked 2,391 messages
  • Quarantined 2,768 threads
  • Moved 941 threads to better align with various forums topics

Many thanks to the community members who helped define the Moderators Program and special thanks to the eight volunteer moderators (dcminter, kajbj, PhHein, yawmark, ejp, Darryl.Burke, sabre150, and cotton.m (alumni)) for giving so generously of your time and for making such an awesome difference to the site & the community in general!

Wednesday Aug 26, 2009

Free Cloud Webinar Sept 1st: "Protecting Your Services in the Cloud"

If cloud security is weighing heavily on your mind lately, you may find the following interesting:

Safety First: Protecting Your Services in the Cloud

Join us for a free webinar in which we'll explore one of the leading impediments to the widespread adoption of Cloud Computing -- security concerns. Given all of the hyped up claims and gross generalizations flowing across the Net, it's no wonder people are worried.

Cloud Computing and security both are multi-faceted areas, and it's high time we stopped thinking of them as a single entity. If you want to take a serious look at Cloud Computing, then it is time to inject a little sanity and context into the security discussion.

Join us for this free webinar to learn how to begin using Cloud Computing -- securely.

In this webinar, we will discuss:

  • Key questions to ask your cloud provider
  • Security issues to consider before moving to the cloud
  • Steps you can take today to protect yourself in the cloud
Event: Safety First: Protecting Your Services in the Cloud
Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Time: 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT / 19.00 CET

Speaker: Glenn Brunette, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Security Architect at Sun Microsystems

For over 15 years, Glenn has designed and delivered security architectures and solutions supporting a wide array of global customers. Currently, he has focused his efforts on improving security for cloud computing and other highly dynamic and scalable architectures.

  • Bring your questions to the live Q&A.
  • Even if you can't make the live event, sign up anyway so we can send you the replay information.

Enjoy!

Tuesday Jul 21, 2009

Nifty Wiki Diagramming

Did you know you can create nifty diagrams via Sun Wikis? Here's a sample flow diagram that I created in a few minutes:

The nice thing about wikifying your thoughts in the form of a wiki diagram is not only ease of conveying your idea, but you can easily open up iteration of your idea to others. The wiki has version history, so if someone "veers" too far off course, for example, you can retrieve previous versions.

Here's how:

Friday Jul 17, 2009

The rare bedazzled geek tee!

@WillSnow (the well-connected Paris Hilton of the geek world -- seriously! He gets invited to invite-only geek parties with free fancy drinks & food!) hooked me up with the coolest chick's geek tee ever!

Props to the JavaFX folks for not only ditching the mens only tees approach, but taking it one step further and adding some sweet bling! With tees like this, you know they've gotta be doing something über cool.

Friday May 29, 2009

JavaOne, CommunityOne, and Sun Cloud Community Channels

Thanks to the beauty of the social web, we have tons of communication channels that are alive with JavaOne, CommunityOne & Sun Cloud conversations. Here's a quick summary of those channels -- please join the discussions:

Sun Blog Action Microblogging Action Facebook Videos Podcasts

Sun Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Conference Tags

If you join any of these conversations & would like to tag your posts, a summarized list of tags are posted here.

Webcasts

If you can't attend the conference, a live webcast will be made available for the CommunityOne General Session and Technical Sessions.


If you are at JavaOne, I'll be at the community corner booth on Monday and the spinning wheel on Tuesday -- drop by to say hello. :-)

The Barbara Walters & Katie Couric of JavaOne

Yup, these chicks' JavaOne videos are better than The View. If you're going to JavaOne, be sure to check them out so you're in-the-know on places to go & people to see.

If you're on Twitter, Heidi can be found at @_intellichick_ and Jen can be found at @maybeimright.


Tuesday May 05, 2009

I GOT THE WHEEL SPINNER JOB!

Sorry about having to play my annual all caps blog title card, but this is exciting. As a child, I would watch Wheel of Fortune not for the ridiculously easy puzzle solving, but to admire Vanna White's grace -- how she'd float across that floor and sweep her hand over those letters. It was magical, but I have something she doesn't -- a certified background in wheel spinning. That is correct. I spun the wheel at the church bazaar in front of 10s of people holding their raffle tickets filled with dreams of carrying a whole salami home with them! How much training did I require to be such a wheel spinning child prodigy, you ask? The answer may very well shock you.

None! That is correct. None.

And so, it makes perfect sense that I was selected from an abundant pool of people to be one of this year's JavaOne wheel spinners. Never mind that most of the people in the pool said "Pffft! I'm not doing that!" They, my friend, are crazy people. They don't get the whole wheel spinning lifestyle, but I do.

AND, that's not all!

My good buddy, whom many of you know as @ditucci will also be a wheel spinner. On the same day! At the same time! We'll be like Bob Barker's Babes, but different. More modern. More classy. More confident. More approachable. More je ne sais quoi...mysterious. We're kicking around ideas on matching evening gowns, but the people in the brand org might veto that idea...so, no promises there.

So, please join us at JavaOne. Our wheel spinner work schedule is as follows: Tuesday, June 2nd 11AM - 7:30PM

The banner says it all "JAVA + COMMUNITY + WHEEL SPINNERS SKROCKI & DITUCCI = POWERFUL"

JavaOne June 2-5, 2009

And none of this "I can't afford to go" business. Here's how you can possibly have your pass and $1500 in travel expenses covered. Let me know if you submit a video and I'll obnoxiously state my opinion to the judges about how I think it rocks (not that that will help, but you never know -- persuasion is part of my job).

I hope to meet you then!

About

Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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