Just home after a very long day/night of traveling it’s finally time to do some reflecting on the past week. It’s hard to put into words what it is I’ve been experiencing this week and while writing this blog post thousands of images, experiences and faces shoot through my head that made this week so special. It was only my second Lotusphere but I felt at home there as if I had been there for at least 20 years. And most of that is due to the incredible community.
How strong that community is was probably best shown in the “NERD101 Spark ideas” session. A very a-typical session as it wasn’t about software or business, it was about life and life’s lessons. With 6 speakers chosen from the community talking about items that inspired them hoping to inspire others. The room was packed and it was a fantastic session. With some very personal stories.
Now what made it extra special to me was that on Wednesday I happened to find myself in the elevator with one of the outside press analysts specially invited. He was on his way out and we got talking (shortly). When I asked him how he’d found the Lotusphere experience and what had surprised him most he mentioned the Sparks session. He’d seen it in the schedule and visited it, not knowing what to expect. He loved the topics and the fact that there was a group of NerdGirls organizing it. But most importantly he was surprised to see how close a community we really are.
So although I’m sure that didn’t make it into his article I can’t help but feel proud of this. Social business is about getting people to work together and connecting in ways they haven’t tried before. Sometimes that means going off the beaten track and exploring new grounds. Having an purely inspirational session at a Tech conference, lead by the community and presented by the community is, in my eyes, definitely going off the beaten track. And I couldn’t think of a better community then the Lotus community to embrace it!
Lotusphere 2012 wasn’t just Social, it showed what Social is about!
I spent a good hour yesterday in the User Experience lab. Talking to UX specialists about Social Software and how I think it could improve. Now why is that important? Well it’s not and it is… My opinion on it’s own isn’t important at all but by being one of those thousands that is actually sharing it I might be able to make a tiny difference in how the products I work with, and my customers work with are build. And isn’t that what ‘being social’ is all about? Making a difference together…?
Now apart from it being good it’s also a lot of fun. People who know me know that I can be a very opinionated person who will not shy away from speaking her mind. And if there’s one thing that is really…. correction: REALLY close to my heart it is usability and UI logic. So being able to sit there and just tell about all the pet peeves, ideas and possible improvements I’ve got swimming around in my head with someone who is not just politely nodding but actually taking notes is just fantastic. Ofcourse there is no guarantee that any of it will be used but at least you get a chance to talk to the people who do have the ability to make a difference.
So if you haven’t done so yet get your butt down there and start talking! They will ask you questions if you don’t have any direct ideas and you’ll be surprised how much you actually have to add!
I stumbled upon Instagram a while back. A nifty little iPhone app (I don’t have an iPhone but use it on my iPad) that lets you quickly share photo’s that portray your mood of the moment to the world. Not whole series but snapshots that really give others a quick glimpse of what you’re up to. The simple interface and the nice filters let you enhance the pictures before posting them and make it a joy to work with.
I love it! It’s just another form of social Media but in some cases a picture says more then a 1000 words and as it allows you to post the pictures to Twitter and Facebook as well it’s a great alternative if words fall short (or inspiration is lacking).
Last Week, after posting an Instagram picture, Bruce Elgort DM’ed me a link with the text “Working on this….“. On opening the link I got a collection of Instagram pictures for Lotusphere and IBM Connect….. Now I didn’t realize immediately what I was looking at and as the pictures were from previous Lotusphere’s it took me a while to realize what he and Serdar Besegmez had been working on. A site that collects all the Instagram pictures (regardless of who’s posting it) that contain the #ls12 tag and shows them in one big photo album overview. Of course the current selection is very limited but come Jan 15…..
So I love this initiative. We’re all going to follow what is going on around Lotusphere on Twitter, on Facebook, on the communities but what better way to portray the mood and excitement of the community coming together then pictures! So if you’ve got an iPhone or iPad then download instagram and start posting. And while at Lotusphere take a picture of what Lotusphere is to you and post it to Instagram with the #LS12 tag. It’ll be a great way of looking back on the event of the year!
If you are anything like me you probably had the dates for Lotusphere 2012 inscribed and blocked in your calendar as soon as they were announced last year and spend the last 11 months bugging your boss about letting you go (yes, I did). Still, not everyone gets to go…..
DISASTER!, now what?!? How can you NOT be there where it is all happening!?!
Breath in…..ok, relax. I know it’s a disaster and I feel for you but in the incredible situation you’re actually not going, there are still ways to participate. So, to help you overcome this horrible scenario, some tips from someone who lived through it last year (and yes, that was hard!). Because you might not be able to be there physically, you can still be there online:
Try and find a Live feed that allows you to follow what’s going on. Last year I ended up watching the whole OGS through a LotusLive web meeting feed. With running commentary and a very active comments section with like minded people who weren’t there. It gave me the comfort of knowing I was not alone, pining behind my desk in a cold & rainy place far, far from sunny Orlando…
Check out the #ls12 hashtag. Anything going on at or around Lotusphere will in general be tweeted with this hashtag. Even better, check out the IBM Social Aggregator for Lotusphere site that lists tweets & blog posts about Lotusphere all in one convenient web page with link backs to authors profiles and other blogs.
Listen to the podcasts that are around. There are several out there like Taking Notes and This Week in Lotus for instance that are really worth listening to if you want to know what’s going on in the Lotus Community. Leading up to and during Lotusphere they tend to do lots of interviews and even live recordings from the conference itself.
Check out PlanetLotus. The place to go for all blog’s Lotus and during Lotusphere the place to get the latest scoops.
Check out the Greenhouse Lotusphere Community (register for free with Greenhouse if you haven’t done so yet to get access). An online Connections community where people can connect, post pictures, links and video’s, search for information, post questions and get involved while at Lotusphere. But also open to anyone not there.
Follow and connect with people on twitter that are there. This is the best way of getting to know what’s going on. Who to follow? Well there are lot’s and finding the right ones can be difficult if you’re new to this. A good basic set of active Lotus community tweeps is to simply follow the IBM Champions twitter list. These are some of the most active members in the community and it’s an easy starting point to broaden your network. Don’t be afraid to interact with them either. These are people that were recognized by IBM for their active role in the Community so in general they are really open and willing to engage with you.
So although none of the above really replaces the actual ‘Lotusphere experience’ itself these could be tips to get a little bit of the feeling of being there. And, if you’re smart, you can use it to get the arguments to convince your boss why he should let you go next year…. 🙂
This list is far from complete. Any more tips I might have forgotten? Add them to the comments!