Sep 08 2008

TechEd Community Day Wrap Up

Categories: 2008 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 11:56 pm

After Lunch

After the Xcelsius session wrapped up after lunch we made our way back to the larger ballroom for a question and answer session with Jimmy Wales. I don’t know if you know who that is (I did not, until I read his bio). He is the founder of Wikipedia, and he was really interesting to listen to. This session was a bonus; he was also to be the guest speaker at the opening keynote later this evening but as a part of Community Day we got him to ourselves for a while. This was probably my favorite part of the day… and it didn’t even have anything to do with SAP or Business Objects or anything. :) The idea behind bringing him in is that he’s made a top-ten internet destination out of a huge community project. Since today was “community” day it certainly made sense to hear what he had to say.

Oh, and my “technical issue” that I mentioned earlier, about not being able to get hooked into the wireless network at the convention center? It wasn’t a technical issue. I just need new glasses. The network access instructions (including the password) were printed on the back of my conference badge. :oops: Despite this, I didn’t take the time to get my laptop out during the rest of the afternoon as I was getting more benefit from talking to people around me.

I have to say that I have been given an extremely warm welcome here. It seems like everyone I meet or am introduced to knows about BOB and our own little community, and everyone seems genuinely glad that I’m here. I finished out the day with a very warm and fuzzy feeling. And if you’re wondering, yes, that’s a good thing.

What is ESME?

After the session with Jimmy Wales I attended a topic about something called ESME. The acronym stands for “Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment” and if you boil it down to its simplest description it’s a corporate version of Twitter. Twitter is one of the many new applications that are part of the “Web 2.0″ movement, and it essentially lets people post short text bits to a server where they are then broadcast out to subscribers. ESME is built on top of the Netweaver platform and is designed with corporate use in mind rather than the broader open internet audience. Is there a value in a twitter-like platform within the enterprise? The folks working on the project certainly seem to think so, although they do recognize that there will be challenges with getting the “corporate suits” to buy into what is essentially an industrial strength text message system. Even though the audience was small for this talk I found it to be very interesting, and even managed to make a suggestion that the team seemed to like. Ultimately I think this would fit somewhere in the collaboration toolset very well. It will be interesting to see how things turn out for this project in the longer term.

We were supposed to have the SAP CTO Vishal Sikka talk to us later in the afternoon. Unfortunately his plans changed, so Mark Finnern turned the time into a general Q/A session with those folks that decided to stick around anyway.

Jimmy Wales Keynote Speech

The last talk of the day was Jimmy Wales again. This time it was much more formal has he was the keynote speaker just before the evening reception. He talked about the organization and philosophy behind Wikipedia and included some interesting statistics about the growth of that service. He touched on Wikia as well. Wikipedia is designed to be an encyclopedia … a reference on specific topics. Wikia is more of a free-for-all in that anyone can set up a subject and start writing articles on it. For example he showed the wikia page on the Muppets, which had over 15,000 articles and was still growing. That’s a lot of talk about Muppets. :lol:

Finally, he talked about his most recent venture, Wikia Search. I was fascinated by this part of the talk since I think that Google is going in the wrong direction with their search process. Wikia search is designed around the same community participation aspects (where they’re appropriate) as Wikipedia. In that sense they (Wikia Search) have two major milestones to reach: they must index a large enough cross-section of the Internet to be relevant, and they must also reach a critical mass of community participation. Without the community aspects, the system doesn’t work. I would like to do more research about this project (and perhaps blog about it more in the future) but for now I will simply say that the talk was fascinating.

Oh, and I went up and talked to Jimmy after the talk and shook his hand. He was very approachable and was extremely happy to stay around after his talk and visit with the audience.

Evening Reception

We finished the day with dinner and some games. Lots of games. They had 3 Wii systems set up (they raffled them off at the end of the night… I didn’t win) along with two pool tables, foosball tables, air hockey… and a table with Legos for those that wanted to sit down and play. :lol: There was a band at the end of the room playing a nice mix of songs (keyboard, guitar, drums, and bass) and at just the right volume for the room. I played a couple of foosball games (won both) and visited with some more very nice people.

Even if this was the only day of this week that I attended, I think I would have considered it a success. The good news is, there are four more days. Perhaps one of them will top today. 8-)

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2 Responses to “TechEd Community Day Wrap Up”

  1. Comment by Nancy

    That is a lot of talk about muppets!
    Thanks for the explanation of Web 2.0. I never really ‘got’ it until you wrote about it here with examples.

  2. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Hi, Nancy, welcome and thank you for your comment. I checked the actual site this morning and the current number is now over 17,000 articles.

    About Muppets. :)

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