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Guy Martin
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Brent, Fantastic post - and I agree with all of your assessments - my concern in my post was mainly that a lot of the 'bottom-line' types look at tools and metrics as an immediate solution to 'the reuse problem'. Your post correctly points out that there is a whole lot more to it than that. Just having a 'catalog' and a 'process' doesn't necessarily help increase reuse if there aren't people on the front lines (developers) who are incentivized to reuse components. My post was driven by various things I'd heard lately around building 'reuse catalogs', and requirements for such catalogs making it clear that the *only* goal was to build a catalog so that a manager in the organization could stand up and say 'Yep, built that beautiful reuse catalog - now everyone go use it'. My point was that a goal and system like that doesn't lend itself to the community approach that you and I are both advocating. You make a great argument for the business side of the house, but experience with developers has taught me that mandating that something like a 'catalog' be used (without a community build around it for the developers to interact with) is a recipe for the developers doing the *bare minimum* to satisfy the mandate. Giving the developers a voice in helping to maintain reusable components goes a long way toward encouraging that reuse, and a lightweight process makes it more likely that they'll actually do it.
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2010 on Strategic Reuse Process at On CollabNet
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Wow - thanks Jack! You've just given me an awesome analogy to use with customers now. The idea of a repository isn't a bad one, but, as you point out, if it becomes a 'dumping ground', the value is severely diminished. -Guy
Toggle Commented Sep 21, 2010 on The Illusion of Control at On CollabNet
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I'll post here what I did on Twitter, but will also try to come out with a blog post of my own building on what Jack has said. Basically, I echo Jack's commentary above, but would also add that for customers who think that building a 'reuse catalog' will automatically invite community into the process, you are mistaken. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a reuse catalog is like that row of 2 inch thick three ring binders on the shelf of a gov office that *NO ONE* ever reads or uses again. If you want to get the most out of your software assets, you need to focus on identifying them (the first part of the catalog analogy), but then also find out who is currently building these components and how you can encourage them to include others in the process (the community building aspect). -Guy
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2010 on A community is not a committee at On CollabNet
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Thanks Laszlo! This is a good synopsis of what's going on - and I especially like the commentary about how local cultural change will continue to be the toughest nut to crack. To answer your question, we need both cultural change as well as policy change. To illustrate, we have it on fairly good authority that the cultural change we started to see as a result of our work on Forge.mil was partially the genesis for section 804 legislation. This is good, because we actually started to prove out the value *before* someone drafted legislation. :) My personal opinion is that it's always better to get things started at the grass roots level, but that once things get to somewhere beyond 'pilot' but not quite critical mass', you'll usually need 'the stick' (legislation, policy, etc.) to carry the ball forward over the goal line. Looking forward to the conference - I think there is going to be some great discussion. -Guy
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Thanks Jack, As always, excellent insight - I guess I probably came down a bit too heavy-handed in favor of *only* front-end weeding, when in reality, I'm in 100% agreement that every once in a while, you'll need to weed on the back end as well. This blog was prompted by some decisions we are contemplating now in the Forge.mil community as we think about how we are adding a Drupal-based 'community layer'. The team's decision (against my current advice & thinking on the subject) is to take what Rachel called the 'social media approach' in her comment. I can understand the reasoning of 'easy access' & 'lower barrier to entry', but my take has always sort of reflected what Rachel called a 'commitment' to participation. This probably shouldn't be surprising given my thoughts on anonymous community contribution as well. Getting content at any cost should not (in my opinion) be weighted more heavily than getting *useful* content (as defined by the community charter). I guess I've just seen too many newbie users of communities be turned off by cruft that I tend to come down a bit more in the 'consumer' side of the camp. -Guy
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Michael, Yup, pesticide, snail & slug bait, you name it. :) -Guy
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Thanks Rachel! I briefly thought about including something in this post about the definition of a weed, but, then, no one would have read it because of the length. :) I think you are right on the money about narrowing the focus enough to make the community productive, and I'll roll around the idea of putting together another post on 'What is a Community Weed?'. As always, I appreciate your perspective - thanks for commenting. -Guy
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Jeff, Great, great, inspired post! I especially like the notion that reuse doesn't have to be a huge endeavor at the module level (though it could be). The Twitter is example is an apt one - 140 characters of knowledge nugget goodness. :) One thing I think a lot of folks ask (and it's an open question) is how to encourage corporate cultures built on stovepipe secrecy to 'give away' this valuable data, and how do you put metrics in place to measure the success of these kinds of efforts. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that as well. Again, great post - thanks for sharing! -Guy
Toggle Commented Jun 29, 2010 on Teaching a man where to fish at On CollabNet
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Craig, Another good reason, besides the ones you've mentioned, is that it shows people that you don't think it's all about you. I think this fits well with what most people already assume about your community-building bent, but it never hurts to reinforce that. However, I, for one, do enjoy your original thoughts. :) I find that reading things from smart people helps me figure out what I want to think/blog/talk about/work on. To me, someone who RTs a lot is someone who is engaged with the world around then.
Toggle Commented Jun 17, 2010 on Why I RT/retweet a lot at cnewmark
Rachel, It's interesting that while reading this, the some old discussion regarding social media 'expert' (gah, I hate that term) vs. community manager keeps coming into my head. If I had to try to classify where I fall into this spectrum (for purposes of illustration), I'd say I'm a 'social media-aware community manager'. Ultimately, I believe I'm probably not alone in that regard, and I think your point is 100% valid in terms of knowing what you want when looking to hire someone. For instance, social media-aware community managers are probably best at facilitating relationships in a number of ways, including social media, but, we're probably not your best bet to increase your company's twitter follower count (if that's your goal). Someone with social skills can probably easily 'socialize' new tech to varies stakeholders within your organization (assuming some business chops as well), whereas a social media consultant is probably more likely to sit on the marketing/PR side of the fence. Either way, attempting to plug the wrong one of these individuals into your organization (based on your own needs) is a recipe for disaster. :)
Drew, This is an interesting discussion you've started here, and while I can see some places where anonymous comments *might* be needed, I tend to focus on this from a community perspective. Honestly, even small personal blogs can and do develop some form of 'community'. Larger blogs, or discussion forums on software development groups (my bailiwick) can easily devolve into a morass of (and I like your characterization) verbal vomit if anonymous comments are allowed. However, a bigger thing for me as a community manager is that anonymity breaks the trust model formed either implicitly or explicitly by the community interactions. I tried to capture my thoughts on the topic in a blog post I wrote in early 2009: http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet/2009/01/trust-in-commun.html For me, Jeff Jarvis summed it up nicely with this quote (referenced in my blog): "The value of public discourse and engagement around content/information/knowledge vastly outweighs most of the privacy concerns most of the time." Thanks for bringing this topic up - it's important for people to understand that, short of questions of personal safety (battered woman's groups, etc.), owning your opinions is crucial to the fabric of trust.
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Interesting take Craig - my personal take (for this, as well as other things like change in corporate America) is that we'll really begin to pick up momentum when the 'social media' generation starts to infiltrate positions of power. The kids that grew up with easy access to information and who know how to use that information to make a difference are going to have to drive this train long after you and I have retired. My only fear, which I briefly touched on in this blog post you commented on (http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet/2010/03/government-20-from-the-inside-out.html) is that the 'antibodies' in government and corporate America today could still infect these promising young minds and spirits. I'm heartened though by the things I see in what we are doing in DoD, and all of the great things you report here in your blog. If we can hold the fort long enough for the next generation to come into power, I think we might have a chance.
Toggle Commented Jun 4, 2010 on PdF: Can the Internet fix politics? at cnewmark
Tina, We are actually at the end of Release 6 now, and though we didn't get to show anything at the partner conference, we have early versions of the ITAR restriction capability in place for Software.forge.mil (needed for some programs to participate within the DoD community), as well as an early prototype of the eMASS integration (pre-cursor to certification.forge.mil). Additionally, we have a very early rough prototype of the 'Social Forge' layer that we previewed to some of our power users. When implemented, this layer will bring social features to the platform such as tagging, rating, group aggregation, blogging, group calendars, and several other features. I'm actually flying to DC this Sunday for the Release 7 planning meeting next week, where we will be prioritizing new features and fixes for that release. If you have access to Software.forge.mil, you can view the latest progress here: https://software.forge.mil/sf/go/plan1192. There is nothing there yet, but after our planning meeting, it will start to be fleshed out. Thanks.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2010 on Catching Up With Forge.mil... at On CollabNet
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Yup Craig, I agree - a combination of algorithmic trust quotient combined with human input (maybe in the form of voting?).
Craig, I tend to agree with you here, but there are cases (I think of DoD commands or 'official' Gov Twitter accounts for example) where people use social media in a bit more of a 'broadcast' medium, and to follow the 'stream', but explicitly say 'following != endorsement'. How would an algorithm take that into account in this case? Special flag? Something else?
Craig, How does 'work product' fit into this thinking? For example, in software dev communities (let's pick the Linux kernel as a fine example), your reputation and trust is built mainly on your contributions, and how they fit into the overall direction of the project. While there are 'social' aspects to the trust meter, the majority of the trust factor is in how good your contributions are. I understand that might not always fit in the models you are describing, but it would seem that in cases where something tangible is delivered, the 'squishy' trust factor can be augmented by the (slightly) more objective 'deliverable'. Regardless, this whole problem space is an interesting intersection of technology and psychology. :)
Well, 'Anonymous', I'd have to respectfully disagree with you. Communities (and let's face it, that is what Unvarnished is, or will become) have a trust fabric that is destroyed when people don't own their opinions. There are certain cases (such as Digg or Slashdot), where a certain amount of anonymous trollish behavior is expected and dealt with, but when you are talking about people's reputations (either through specific ratings sites like Unvarnished or in a software development community setting), a breakdown in the trust fabric just makes the overall data gained by the 'freedom' useless, IMHO. My thoughts on this topic are basically crystallized in a blog post I wrote more than a year ago on Trust in Communities - http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet/2009/01/trust-in-commun.html
Craig, That's awesome - I was just doing a little 'recon' work on my fellow Fed 100 winners, so I'd love to get a chance to meet up at the dinner next week and hear more about what you're doing. Looking forward to it. -Guy
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Interesting post Jack - I do wonder though how the concept of 'innersourcing' plays into this? Certainly, there are plenty of enterprise shops that will use traditional heavyweight, top-down development processes. However, isn't there a large movement to utilize more 'Agile'-style development processes, where failure *is* cheap and/or easy to remedy? I think there can still be a use case for centralized SCM there. My biggest beef with DVCS is that it requires the kind of project management discipline that successful projects like the Linux kernel have, and that is not easy to replicate within corporate environments. Also, DVCS gives (IMHO) the developer too much rope to hang themselves with in terms of 'siloing' their code until it is 'just right', instead of forcing them to play nicely with the rest of the development team (this becomes a community issue). It also makes continuous integration (also another good dev practice) harder to deal with. Heck, maybe we need you to write another blog post on distributed vs. centralized SCM from a cultural perspective. :)
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Great post Carey, and so apropos to community building! A lot of what community managers/leaders find in attempting to build better collaboration is simply a lack of confidence, or outright fear of participation by prospective community members. Learning not to be afraid of looking silly or appearing un-knowledgeable is a key component to being a good community member, but leaders and community managers also need to foster an environment much like Mr. Kotter did - one that allows for some creativity outside of the bounds of convention. The central theme of that show that always resonated with me was his ability to build teachable moments without stifling the participation. The ability to have some sense of order without crushing creativity is a huge component of community.
Toggle Commented Jan 23, 2010 on Finding your inner Horshack at On CollabNet
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Thanks Maricela! I like that 'mashup' word - interpretation and creation?
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2009 on Community Perspective at On CollabNet
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Thanks for teasing out some of the more subtle kinds of answers Jack! I agree with you that there are myriad ways to answer this question, and that there are as many 'online communities' as there are people on this globe. :) I think the reason I chose 'perspective' was because it seems (at least to me) to be the 'root' of all of the other things you mentioned. When looking for socialization, chat, answers, or synergy, you are looking (at least partially) for a perspective different than your own. I agree that there are times that affirmation is the goal, but in my experience, a primary value proposition of working in community is getting a view on what you are working on that differs from your own. As humans, we sometimes fall into the trap of seeking out others with the same perspectives we have to the exclusion of other points of view. I believe any type of community is a critical component to helping solve issues, learn new things, and grow beyond our current ways of thinking. As such, companies interested in growing and thriving should be embracing this kind of effort.
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2009 on Community Perspective at On CollabNet
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Thanks Trevor! Great catch - this is what I get for blogging very late in the evening East Coast time. :) Now corrected. -Guy
Toggle Commented Nov 10, 2009 on Catching Up With Forge.mil... at On CollabNet
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Excellent analysis Rachel! I think the only thing that will really start to get the attention of companies is falling sales, and/or the rising sales of their competitors who have not ignored this trend. This is not unlike the boom/bust cycles of employment. In today's tougher economy, many companies promulgate the 'you should be lucky we are willing to employ you' mantra, but, when the pendulum swings (and it always does), they forget that most employees have VERY long memories, and those employers with the reputation of great places to work will get the quality candidates in the end. Though companies should take a longer term approach, stockholders and boards of directors seem to always hold a short-term interests position. The only thing that seems to sway that is a drastic shift in profits.
Thanks Brandy! I like the idea of 'gentle guidance'... though sometimes, even the best community managers feel less than gentle.. :) -Guy
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2009 on Mixing Up a Community Cocktail... at On CollabNet
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