Genii Weblog

A whole lot to process at Lotusphere

Wed 24 Jan 2007, 07:02 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Wow, there is just so much to process, so I'll just do a stream of consciousness posting and try to get various thoughts down.  Later on, when I have a bit more time (and get over the inevitable nasty Lotusphere virus), I try to analyze things more coherently...
  • The Opening General Session was great, the best organized, most exciting and most fun in years (in contrast the BDD Opening Session was a bit frustrating, and really needs to be rethought).  The band was great.  Finally, the rock concert atmosphere which always surrounds the OGS was properly ushered in.  Excellent choice, and you could even make that particular band an annual event and we'd all be happy.  Then, the stunning special guest.  Neil Armstrong!  What an honor and what a great speaker.  Funny, self deprecating and insightful.  I tried to get up to the stage afterwards to get him to sign my shirt, but they whisked him away.  Anyway, great choice, and I am so glad to see him.
  • The rest of the Opening General Session was filled with announcements.  Hannover was finally officially renamed Notes/Domino 8, which everyone knew about, but there were some interesting new developments.  IBM announced two different sets of functionality that loosely coalesce the idea of collaboration with social software.  The first was Lotus Quickr, which seems to combine the power of QuickPlace with the immediacy and empowerment of blogs and wikis and such, and allows really easy "document management" without the painful parts,  On of the really popular moments was the demo of dragging a file to a memo, having it turn into an attachment icon, and then having a popup which asked if you really want to send the file, or would you rather just "make it available" and send a link.  Uploading files into a generally accessible repository seems that easy.  Obviously, the name alludes to the simplicity of Flickr, and people seemed to "get it" right away.  To make the announcement even more interesting, it was announced that there was a Personal Edition as well as a Standard Edition, and the Personal Edition was free to anybody with a Notes license of any type.  Free is good.  The Standard Edition, if I understand correctly, would be available automatically to anybody with QuickPlace at no extra charge,  Good decisions, because to make these successful, they need them to be used, and used widely.
  • Another announcement was about Lotus Connections.  Seems an odd name, since there are many other products/features in Notes itself and in Lotus Quickr which connect people, but there you are.  This was harder to grasp for me, and there was a whole lot less said about pricing than about Lotus Quickr.  The idea seemed somehow thrown together, which contrasts with the was both the Notes 8 presentation and the Quickr presentation were handled, but the idea may have some merit.  I think it may be the successor to the Activity Explorer concept, but I couldn't say for sure.
  • The corporate defined "new cool term" of the day is "business mashup" or simply "mashup", which is used to describe the scary term "composite applications" which describes the same thing.  Mashup is a whole lot more appealing, but it is not entirely clear whether this is just a thin coating or a true rethinking.  IBM sometimes has trouble getting the simplicity motif of social software, but they are trying.
  • Pretty much the only person from IBM who wore a suit was the guy who talked about Websphere Portal 6.0 (or whatever combination of Websphere and Portal they call it today).  Enough said.
  • There was some good demos and talk about Lotus SameTime, which really seems to have been improved tremendously.  I am not an IM type of person, but the functionality looked cool and complete at the same time.
  • They talked briefly about Second Life, said they had a virtual Lotusphere in there, and referred to it as the start of the 3-D web.  While I have no interest in Second Life right now, the concept of the "3-D Web" finally clued me in to why IBM is so interested.  They don't just want to be in on it, they recognize that investing heavily in it now could pay off hugely when it becomes more real.  That makes sense.

  • Blogging Q&A session - While I am pleased at the idea of giving time and attention to the bloggers, who do spread a lot of the viral opinion, the people involved don't seem to get the difference between the formal press and the bloggers.  Julian Robichaux asked the first question, and the various people on stage, especially Mike Rhodin, answered him, sort of, for almost twenty minutes, a lot of it a rehash of what had already been announced.  That may be, as Andrew Pollack says, the "way press conferences are", but it made the whole affair pretty pointless.  I asked a question, which was answered a bit more promptly, but they ran out of time shortly afterwards.  Now, Mike Rhodin is a good guy, and he is actually quite available here and was at our Penumbra dinner, so it isn't about time or access.  It is about cutting to the chase and letting people ask questions.  The bloggers in the room were both intelligent and respectful, and IBM needs to learn to trust them more.  In turn, I think the bloggers would have an easier time being supportive.  We actually tend to be big supporters, but we aren't as used to being snowed as the press is.  It is like diplomats dealing with regular people, you can't just fall into diplo-speak and expect the regular people to respond well.

  • Sessions and labs have been excellent.  There are a lot of people, so some sessions are getting overflowed pretty quickly, but I have heard few complaints. 
  • My session went pretty well.  It is a more dry topic than I usually like to do, but people said they learned a lot, and that is what they came for.  I like to do flashy demos, and there weren't any flashy demos to do with this topic, but that may be all for the best, because I focused more on giving them something they could use, rather than entertaining.  I guess we'll see when I read the comments.
  • Andrew Pollack and Gabriella Davis are both amazing presenters, but Rocky works them too hard and should cultivate other admin speakers.  Yes, I know Andrew and Gab can pull it off, but if one or both were unable to come one year, IBM would be screwed, as nobody else is being cultivated to take on these sessions.  Remember when "Who wants to be a millionare?" was such a big hit that whichever network it was kept putting it on more and more and more.  When it finally went out of fashion, the network sank to its lowest ratings.  While Andrew and Gab won't go out of fashion, they could both be hit by one of these annoying large Lotusphere busses, and then where would we be?

On that note, I have to go get breakfast and get ready for SpeedGeeking.

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

548.1. Roberto Boccadoro
(01/24/2007 05:55 AM)

Ben, you say :

I think it may be the successor to the Activity Explorer concept, bu I couldn't say for sure.

You are not completely right :-) Connections is not just a successor of AE. AE is part of Connections, together with many other functionalities (dogear, communities, profiles). I understand Connections is not easy to get in a few minutes, and your comments about this not being explained clearly reenforce my idea. If you think it could be a good idea, I can post about Connections on "the new black" blog; I will try to clarify what it is and answer your questions about it.


548.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/24/2007 08:32 AM)

It would be great if you would write about it more. What is "the new black" blog, and where is it?

548.3. Mike Rhodin
(01/26/2007 05:04 PM)

Nice blog. Give me a break on the Blog Conference...first one I've done! But i do think it's a good idea and one I'll continue with.

Connections is actually a big idea...and it does include the initially prototypical Activity Explorer concepts (but inverted so that it's completely open...this was actually done based on the comments of the people at Lotusphere last year). But lot's of other stuff in Lotus Connections will become more apparant over time...remember, it's hard to demo anything in 5 minutes that has any substance to it...we barely scratched the surface in the OGS).