Wednesday May 02, 2007

Are you following the Digg saga?

I consider myself a student of the online community space -- the sociology that drives it all is fascinating. The fact that people's reactions to an unlimited scope of topics are globally and immediately available for easy, open discussion is an incredible thing to witness, let alone participate in.

This week's hot topic is how Digg reacted to a post that included an encryption key that enables one to play HD-DVD movies in Linux. I haven't figured out why the key can't be modified and therefore rendered useless by the intellectual property owner, but that's beside the point.

Digg initially removed the post and the blogosphere retaliated. Seriously retaliated. As a result, far more attention has been drawn to the encryption key and it is now mass distributed -- with/without Digg.

I like Digg's transparency in their initial reaction and follow-up reaction. Check out Kevin Rose's (Digg Founder and Chief Architect) post:
"...after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."
I suspect most people want to see Digg still standing when the dust settles, but it'll be interesting to see how things turn out. The lesson (which seems to be a recurring theme in the community space) is clear...

...don't underestimate the power of the decentralized online community.

Thursday Apr 26, 2007

My experiences as a Sun Blogger

blog As blogs.sun.com turns three, I thought I'd share some of my corporate blogging experiences and lessons learned. I've been blogging on this site for nearly three years and have the pleasure of being the site's engineering program manager.

One commonly asked question that is raised when discussing Sun blogs casually or in a blogging 101 session that a couple of my business partners and I offer to Sun and non-Sun groups is "Have we ever had a situation where a blogger posted something they shouldn't have?"

The answer is not really. Of the >65 thousand Sun blog posts, I can count on one hand the times one of our self-policing bloggers have raised an eyebrow about a blog post. The benefits that come out of sharing proprietary information with our bloggers, including pre-announced information, far out-weighs the liability.

There was one situation that cropped up during my first month of program managing the site -- an intern posted a detailed entry about why a certain Sun product doesn't measure up. The Sun blogging community was quick to shine the light on both sides of the coin. Some thought the post should be deleted immediately while others thought the best thing to do was to leave it posted exactly the way it was and counter the post's inaccuracies by posting comments as well as publically accepting the truths and talk about why they exist and what can be done to address them. As it turns out, the intern removed the post, but in the end, I think most of us agree that keeping the post in place with clarifying comments would have been the best approach.

On that note, Sun has rolled the dice in letting employees blog freely. The site's tagline has served the company well -- "This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything." If an employee wants to blog, they don't need an executive sponsor nor do they need to ask permission or sell someone on the idea of what their blog content will be, they simply need to register and use the corporate blogging policy as their guide. I think the employee-driven approach vs the corporate-driven approach lends itself well to the spirit of the blogosphere and is likely one of the key factors behind the high-percentage of employee bloggers at Sun.

Since there isn't a mechanism in place to fully measure the goodness that comes from corporate blogging, I'll shine the light on some of the goodness that I've seen triggered by Sun blogs:

Congratulations Sun bloggers! Thank you Roller Engineers! And thank you Sun Blog Founders and Sun Executive Management for rolling the dice!
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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