IBM developerWorks Becomes Socially Acceptable
May 18, 2009 Dan Burger
Sort of like a neighborhood within a city, IBM‘s developerWorks is a community within a community. It’s the locale, sort of like the local watering hole for the herds of thirsty developers seeking technical resources and answers to a spaghetti dish of gnarly conundrums. It’s an online source with a huge amount of content–from published articles to technology updates to individual experiences and expert commentary. It is shared through libraries, blogs, and forums. And now it is adapting to the social networking trend that IBM is certain will build on developerWorks’ already considerable success.
The old developerWorks is becoming the new My developerWorks. The idea is to add professional networking capabilities of LinkedIn–an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world–to an already thriving network of experienced professionals from around the world.
If that sounds like more of the same, it is and it isn’t. The aim of My developerWorks is to expand the interconnectedness of this IT community and to more quickly build skills through better channels of collaboration. Like LinkedIn, participants will find it much easier to seek other professionals (IT developer types) with shared interests and specific areas of expertise and, therefore, develop networking relationships that can solve problems and promote careers.
As has always been the case, developerWorks is an IBM community and it plays favorites with IBM technology. That won’t be changing. Here’s a good example of a developerWorks Web page devoted to integrating green-screen applications into a service oriented architecture using Rational Host Access Transformational Server.
For instance, the AS/400, iSeries, System i, and Power Systems i developer community, of which 500,000 are estimated to be using developerWorks according to IBM, has always congregated in gangs whose home turf was established by shared interests in topics such as RPG, Java, and WebSphere or, more recently, Rational tools.
The social networking aspect, according to Stephanie Martin, director of My developerWorks, will encourage the creation of IBM i communities (like golf courses, they can be private or public), and be a major improvement in the exchange of ideas, information, and technical know-how. There will likely be groups that form around DB2 on IBM i, performance tuning, or possibly geographic areas–an online network similar to a local user group. Those groups might be linked to other groups with specialized interests such as cloud computing, virtualization, or lean green computing machines.
Martin said IBM research and other sources indicated developerWorks users want to rely on their peer group for more information. She sited a statistic that 50 percent of IT professionals rely on colleagues, peer resources, and industry-recognized leaders for information.
“Social networking is leveraging the intelligence of the community, and that starts with knowing the people who are talking,” she said. “That brings value. The essence of social networking is the person’s profile. Now you will be able to see the profile of the person who is doing the talking. You can see, for instance, that person has been a Java developer for 15 years. They’ve done recent projects. They have credibility.”
IBM will be using Lotus Connections software to bring new collaboration features to the content that already exists in developerWorks, and Martin says it will be “seeding” the groups with relevant. One example is the modernization of healthcare and the potential for IT funding. The creation of groups around technologies and business topic areas will be a priority.
Because of the addition of social networking, Martin says people will have a new capability to track experts and follow the experts’ activities in a home page that will link to bookmarks the experts establish for articles, books, and blogs they are reading, their Tweets (from Twitter), and other collaborative efforts through the various groups in which they participate.
“It’s not just getting the answers,” she says in reference to the answers people get in traditional research and networking. “It’s increasing the value to the individuals. And individuals want to increase their productivity and grow their career and their network.”
For those adding their own input, it gives them an opportunity to be recognized and establish their own professional credentials.
“That has tremendous value,” Martin says, “and is substantially different than what we are doing today.”