IBM i Looks For ‘Social Security’ On Silver Anniversary
April 8, 2013 Dan Burger
IBM is planning a 25th anniversary celebration for IBM i and it begins now. It’s sort of a surprise party (at least the timing is a surprise), because the celebration is beginning almost 11 weeks in advance of the official anniversary date, which is June 21. Colin Parris popped the first cork April 7 during the opening session of the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition in Austin, Texas. However, it was Steve Will who strategically leaked the information last week in his blog.
It is fitting that the chief architect for the IBM i should open the door to this anniversary in his blog, because this observance is wrapped in social media. Will is the most prolific blogger of the IBM i executives, and a troop of Tweeters has been chirping away on this IBM i anniversary news since Will’s blog followers got wind of it.
Party Central for this virtual convocation is an IBMi25 Facebook page. The IBM i story from the System/36 to the present is being told through a series of vignettes and videos published to the new Facebook venue. The narratives will concentrate on technological advancements, the unprecedented loyalty of the IBM i community, and the relevance of business value. Twenty-five vignettes and three videos will be rolled out on the Facebook page between now and the end of May.
Although you should never judge a book by its cover, here are the titles of the first five vignettes in the lineup:
“Each of these has an interesting and intriguing story,” based on what I was told by Ian Jarman, the former IBM i product manager who has a long history with this platform.
Like Lay’s potato chips, IBM is hoping you can’t stop after reading just one vignette and you’ll repeatedly visit the Facebook page for more. Because social media is about more than just reading and Facebook is more than just a website, the videos will be another reason to join the party. These prerecorded interviews include IBM i customers and IBM spokespeople such as Frank Soltis, retired chief scientist of the IBM i; Steve Will, chief architect for the IBM i; Ian Jarman, business unit executive for Power Systems Lab Services; Mark Anderson, chief architect, DB2 for IBM i; Alison Butterill, IBM i product manager; and Dave Nelson, director of IBM i development. The videos will be incrementally introduced on April 15, May 5, and June 3. A special screening of the first video was presented during the Opening Session at COMMON.
The social media emphasis will be obvious on the IBM i25 Facebook page where friends of the IBM i will be leaving best wishes, comments about what they are seeing and hearing, and hammering on the “Like” button. To spread the word about the Facebook page, you’ll find references to it on LinkedIn (many IBM midrange groups live there), the popular forums like Midrange-L, and at events like COMMON, the Large User Group meeting, and other worldwide IBM i community gatherings.
There are five IBM i blogs coming from within IBM and more than a few of the Power Systems Champions advocate for the IBM i platform. The blog activity is set up to be cross-linked on the Facebook page and through LinkedIn and Twitter.
“This will demonstrate that the community connects through social media,” Jarman said. “Actually, they have been doing that for a long time with Midrange-L, through IT Jungle and other publications. There is a lot of activity through various social media that now includes LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and our website. We will promote this across all those activities, but focus our deliverables into the Facebook page and do promotion through Twitter and other sites to encourage people to connect to that page and comment.”
“A lot of these activities are generated by the communities. LinkedIn groups, for example, are interested in promoting the platform. Everyone has the same interest in recognizing the anniversary and in promoting the interaction between their friends and colleagues.”
Jarman said there is a “significant investment” in creating all the materials behind this social media campaign to connect the community not just with the past, but also with the future.
“We are not shying away from associating with the achievements of the AS/400,” Jarman noted. “We talk about the architectural principles such as TIMI, single-level storage, object orientation, and so on. But we also talk about IBM i today and the views of the IBM i team about the future. There will be vignettes and portions of vignettes that make points about IBM i legacy technology that is being introduced today by other platforms as new. And we expect that the views expressed in the vignettes and videos will encourage others to use social media to make their own views known.”
Here is where you’ll find the IBMi25 Facebook page, and to catch up with all the revelers on Twitter, aim your Tweets at #IBMi25.
“This is targeted at people who have a strong interest in IBM i,” Jarman said. “But when we are working as a community to promote the platform, it rubs off a little on those outside the community as well. This can only be a good thing.”
The first three vignettes are on a scheduled release of April 7, 8, and 9, during COMMON. The next two are being released on April 15 and 17. After that there will be new vignettes added every two or three days until the final vignette is released around June 5.
The Facebook page will outlast the June 21 silver anniversary date for the launch of the AS/400 and its OS/400 operating system, as there will be other events around the world to feed it and keep it active and updated. It is not, however, set up to be a permanent site.