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TLE Highlights: The Irony of Social Computing

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As I have just mentioned, this is a follow up weblog post from the previous one I have shared regarding some of the highlights from IBM‘s 2007 Technical Leadership Exchange event held in Paris last week. If in the previous entry I mentioned how one of those highlights was the networking opportunities, here is something for you that will show you how some times things are not as easy and straightforward as some people may think.

Yes, the networking opportunities were great, as I have mentioned previously, but sometimes it takes time for them to take off. Here is an anecdote to detail some of that. Throughout the few days the event took place, the organisers of the event actually set up a number of different roundtables for lunch on various topics of interest to help people get together and talk about what they are interested and passionate about. Most of those tables, during the course of the event, were actually packed with people chatting away exchanging experiences and whatever other stories.

All of the tables except one! One that when I saw it in the photocopies I was given I was very excited to attend and hang out with other folks. Yes, indeed, the table on Web 2.0, Collaboration and Social Computing. What? You say. Yes, that is right, all of the other tables were completely packed, except for the one on Social Computing. Jeeezzz, how can that be? I thought. I arrived late for lunch the first day and, while I was waiting on the queue for some food, I spotted the table and just saw one other colleague sitting there (Richard Hopkins – a.k.a. Turner Boehm, who I met at that same table after I got myself some food and who shares plenty of my same interests around the virtual worlds, the metaverse and, of course, Second Life). He was actually sitting there by himself for about 15 to 20 minutes, the time it took me to drop by the table and join him.

How surreal is that? A roundtable for lunch around the subject of Social Computing and nobody, but one person shows up during the first 15 minutes! Goodness! Talking about networking! Anyway, not to worry, it gets better! Wait for this one. Each of the roundtables actually had a leader, someone who would moderate the table and get some of the action started. Well, for the two days that the roundtable was running the leader didn’t show up, even though we knew the person was present at the TLE event! Yes, that is right. You are reading it right. That person didn’t show up at all! Not even to say something while we were all over there waiting. Sigh.

Yes, I guess that shows how some times social computing and Web 2.0 is harder to get than you think and how sometimes you get major massive disappointments like that one! But thank goodness they only last for a few minutes because you only need to put together a table for social computing evangelists to get together and no matter how few there would be around they will come over. And we did.

The two days we had a fantastic set of conversations about how social computing is impacting the corporate world and exchanged lots of stories on funny anecdotes like the one I just mentioned above on how some times the job of a social computing advocate and evangelist is harder than initially thought. But we all love it! It is that energy that sucks us all into wanting much more! Meeting up with other interesting people, getting to know them and their passions for social software, knowledge sharing and collaboration, learn from one another on different experiences and, better yet, build up trustworthy and everlasting relationships that we could all use when going back to our daily jobs.

That is exactly the kind of interactions I have been having with Roo Reynolds (Metaverse evangelist) throughout the whole event, along with a whole bunch of other folks I will be talking about in another follow up entry. I have known Roo for a number of months, perhaps even a couple of years already, and throughout all of that time we have been interacting through our social networks quite a bit, but it was this particular event that gave us the chance to get to know each other face to face. About time!, you may say. And you are right! It was certainly one of the major highlights from the entire event as it gave me the chance to place a face behind all of the interactions we have been having throughout all of these months. And like him, a few others.We talked for hours and hours no end and still felt like a five minute conversation! Nice! Very nice!

In short, no matter how hidden we, social computing evangelists, may well be, in the end, we are going to come out and share with the world how social computing is going to impact them big time! And the best part of it is every chance we get we are going to use it. Those leader-less roundtables we made together gave us the chance to have some incredible conversations and be even more re-energised than ever. So much so that we got a whole bunch of other folks interested and excited about the whole thing, but that would another story for another weblog post. Coming up soon!

(That is what conference events like this one are all about! Not so much on the irony of social computing but more the power of networking!)

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