E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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IBM Lotusphere 2008 – Highlights from Fifth Day – Thursday 24th

Here we go with one more blog post detailing some of the highlights from the last day at the IBM Lotusphere event that took place last week. We are already on the last day of the conference, and what a conference!! One of the most re-energising and refreshing events I’ve attended in a long while! And the main highlight from me so far; like usual: the people!! The incredible talent put together jamming away for a few days talking about what drives their passion. Mine is social computing. So during those five days I just couldn’t stop bumping into people I knew for quite some time, and some others I was introduced to, who help me gain lot of experience and first hand insights on how other folks are adopting social software.

Later on, I will create another blog post, probably the last one from the series, where I will be sharing with you folks what I have learned from the entire event itself, and what I should have done to even take much more advantage from the conference itself. Yes, I had a great time, but there were a few things I think I should have done different in order to get even more out of it. But that is the subject for another blog post…

Waking-up late

Yes, I know, I am guilty of that one. Perhaps because it was the last day of the conference. Perhaps because I stayed up with the Lotus Connections folks till very early in the morning. Whatever it was, I eventually missed out the first couple of hours of speaker sessions. I just couldn’t. So I decided to recover and make some time to spend the rest of the day attending what was left from the event itself, which then proved to be rather interesting as well, to say the least.

GURUpalooza Session

To start with, I attended one session called GURUpalooza, which, to me, was quite an interesting session, since it was the first time I ever saw something similar. So here we have got a bunch of gurus on IBM Lotus offerings sitting on stage waiting to be hammered with questions from the audience on how to get the most out of those various applications. Anything goes. All questions get answered or, at least, it is tried. The session was moderated by Rocky Oliver, who I had the pleasure of briefly introducing myself to during lunch and which I wish I would have had more time to talk some more. Perhaps next time!

Although I couldn’t twitter as much as I would have hoped (For a few minutes the wireless connection was not up to speed) I did eventually get some twittering going on to share some of what it was like. And what I found remarkably interesting was the fact that there were plenty of various different questions and only one around the area of social computing. Yes, only one, when I would be expecting quite a few of them, specially around the area of why bother with social software? What are the business benefits? How do I get started within my organisation? Why should I care / listen to social computing? etc. etc. You know what I mean, the usual stuff you get asked about quite a bit from time to time.

Yet, it didn’t happen during that particular session, which makes me wonder whether people are already getting involved and still haven’t come up with those questions (Or they already know the answers) or, rather, that they are not bothered at this point in time and things are still very much at the beginning. Some food for thought… (We shall see what happens next year…)

Lunch Break

From there onwards we all went for lunch and although it was a rather informal and light lunch, it was one that I enjoyed quite a bit, since it gave me the opportunity to meet up other folks I have been working with for a while, but that I never got the change to meet in person. Well, I finally got it done! Here are some photos we took:

Ask the Developers Session

Right after lunch we went for what is supposed to be a classic from Lotusphere, which is the session Ask the Developers, where some of the top notch developers from Lotus products get on stage and over the course of one hour they get asked plenty of questions from the audience, most of them of a technical nature. Yes, this is the session where apparently you can tell the developers what you like, and don’t like, about a specific product, application, feature, etc. etc.

And after having attended it, I think I know why it is so popular! It is a complete buzz with plenty of people from various different companies sharing their ideas and experiences from using IBM Lotus products and providing some instant feedback on what works, what doesn’t and what they would like to see improved! Social networking face to face at its best!! Listening to feedback and reacting to it to help improve your products! It cannot get better than that!

I had so much fun with the entire session that I went crazy with Twitter and shared quite a bit of the different questions asked / answered, to give you an idea of the nature of the questions and the reactions provided. Lots of good fun, I tell you!

Closing General Session – Alton Brown

From there onwards, those of us who were still around headed to the main tent session, which was the closing general session where every year there is a guest speaker. This year that speaker was introduced by Marjorie Tenzer and it was no other than Alton Brown.

At the very beginning I wasn’t really sure what the real deal was, since I didn’t know who he was or what he would be talking about. Then after five minutes of him talking, a couple of Web sites surfed, I was completely sold! What a fantastic bloke! Yes, I know, those of you in the US & Canada probably already know about this, but must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it quite a bit. I twittered a little bit about his performance, but when we were getting immersed on what he was doing with food (Think of food & science mixed up together with some spices and lots of good fun!!) I decided to stop twittering and, instead, take pictures!!

And boy, did I get carried away or what? I took a whole lot of them that still need to be tagged, annotated and everything, but you can already find them in my Flickr stream. What a great show!! I could then see why he is such a bit hit in the US. Wish we would be able to watch him over here in Europe without having to pay for expensive sat. T.V. Alas, we would have to content ourselves with the whole bunch of videos on YouTube, which is not too bad (Was surprised to find so many in there!).

And with that we came to the conclusion of a superb conference event over the course of five wonderful days! It was my first time at Lotusphere and I am sure it won’t be the last one. I am *so* going to make it next year. No doubt! But then I will be sharing shortly one final blog post on what I am planning to do in preparation for next year, because there was just so much going on that one needs to be prepared well ahead of time. And that’s what this upcoming blog post will do…

For now, here are some pictures I took during Alton’s closing session:

Oh, and if you are wondering what I did in the evening, I actually went Downtown Disney with half of Ireland to enjoy a couple of pints, have some good dinner, head back to the hotel and enjoy the peace and quiet of hanging out at the Dolphin bar without the massive crowds from the last five days! Priceless!

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