Let’s start in a conventional manner with the announcement that IBM have just launched a new social networking community all about planning, using and deploying SOA, not so surprising as this is the new ‘must have’. Its goal is to encourage all manner of people to get together and share experiences and ask questions of each other, naturally IBM colleagues will be on hand to assist everyone as well. The comparison to existing Web Pages is interesting; Pages on products and methods are broadcast distribution of ‘one size fits all’ information, where as an area devoted to FAQs is a little better in bringing this closer to a specific point, but a community is distinctly personal. It’s the opportunity to share discuss and answer individual issues by increasing the size of the pool of experience to make sure that any particular participant can find someone else who has the right experience to share with them.
However though I am all in favour of such communities and use them myself, no more than that would now find it difficult to work effectively without them, is this really as far as we can go with the tools available? Back to SAP and TechEd now and what I hope you will agree is a really exciting experiment with providing real time interaction and value.

Let’s start with SAP who has been slowly building up an excellent set of communities with, for me, the Business Process eXchange, or BPX, an important one. SAP communities are the natural home for the attendees at TechEd in Berlin this week, so you can assume that many will get to find and use the communities as a result of being there, and others will see TechEd as an extension of the community process into the physical world. The real issue for me at events like this is that I am over whelmed by all that is going on, and am desperately trying to figure out what I shouldn’t miss. I can never get it right and find myself in those inevitable ‘gosh wish I had been at that session’ moments when talking to others. And that’s the big issue! I want and need to know more than I can absorb on my own, I need the input of others.
My colleague Lee Provoost wants to try an experiment at TechEd and you can ALL join in. He will be providing a live feed of what he is doing at TechEd, including interviews and discussions, and it will all be there as a Twitter feed to encourage everyone else to join in. He plans to post interviews to YouTube and photos to Flickr so there should be a great assortment of information, especially if you all join in as he hopes. The idea is to try to see how social tools could redefine the event experience for both those who make it there and those who can’t. So here are all the details:

  1. You Experience: This is all about personalizing and individualizing our user experience. As Lee’s fellow blogger Rick Mans says: “it’s all about what I want”. Don’t know whether he is visionary or just selfish, the fact is that in 2008 he has a point. So they created a mashup using Yahoo! Pipes where they offer you several ways to consume their live feed. Not happy with the ways they offer it? Well, be creative and create your own mashup 🙂
  2. From Transaction to Interaction: Why just providing you with a static feed? They want to engage in discussions and share experiences. You can add Lee on Twitter (@leeprovoost) to ask questions, to arrange a meet-up or to get some goodies and gadgets! He will once in a while give some information to find him or to visit our Capgemini-sd&m booth to get some stuff.

You can join this experiment by:
1. Consuming an RSS feed that combines the Twitter, Flickr and YouTube content: http://feeds.feedburner.com/capgemini-sapteched08
2. Add Lee on Twitter and ask questions, engage in discussions and most of all… you can score lots of goodies and gadgets!: http://www.twitter.com/leeprovoost
3. Visit their Yahoo! Pipes page and add their feed to your Google reader, My Yahoo!, NewsGator or any other destination you want: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=GJ57_uOT3RGHALkhQBJ3AQ