I’m writing this as my friend Craig Cmehil’s eventtrack goes into public testing. I wrote about this yesterday but here’s a brief recap.
Two days ago when Jeff Nolan was at Defrag he and a few others were Twittering the event. Jeff asked about the possibility of grouping Tweets to facilitate following the conversation. Such a tool could also be used to discover others who are Twittering an event and so expand the conversation. Since then, Jeff has compiled some useful thoughts about Twitter, grouping and desktop Twitter clients.
Craig stepped up to the plate and started coding. eventtrack is the proposed solution and outcome. It’s bare bones, it’s under test, it will probably fall over at some stage and need debugging. (It already does.) That’s not the point. Something MUCH more important happened.
Jake Kuramoto who is involved with Oracle AppsLab told us that Eddie Awad an Oracle customer had developed a simple tool for doing pretty much the same thing. He’d built it for Twittering Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle’s upcoming shindig in San Francisco.
Remember for one moment that Craig works for SAP in Germany, I’m in Spain and Jake/Eddie are in the Portland area in the US. I’d hasten to add that code was being written in people’s own time.
Jake started a Facebook conversation among the four of us which ran overnight and is continuing. The idea was to share what is known and progress made. I shared some of this with my Irregular chums to get their reaction.
This is a good example of what Professor Andrew McAfee calls emergent behavior where patterns and actions arise out of the unplanned use of these types of tool. What is unique is that we have representatives from two enterprise companies who would otherwise be highly competitive and yet who are working together on this wee project for mutual benefit.
This is entirely in keeping with ideas around how collaboration benefits the community as a whole. In this case, we all have a vested interest in improving an already useful service so there is no barrier to collaboration. That’s a key issue.
While geeks are normally competitive, this is yet another example of shared thinking aimed at improvement. I say ‘another’ because open source development depends on collaboration for its survival and improvement. At the moment, open source is topic du jour among developers with vast resources being poured into projects like Google’s OpenSocial. FreeAgent depends on open source.
In conversation, Jeff pointed out that:
It’s also a reflection on the low cost and short timeline for developing client apps for these networks.
This is a critical point and stands in contrast to the kind of effort needed to develop full blown applications of the kind enterprises are used to hefting yet which are being commoditized by price pressure and competition. But then this is an addon.
It also contrasts sharply with the way relationships between IT and business are usually defined. Are we witnessing a mini watershed? I’d like to think so. We’ve stumbled across each other in a semi-random fashion and this project would not be possible without the innovation mindset characterized by Craig, Eddie and Jake. This is going to be something of a shock to some in their respective organizations. I hope it is because this group has taken a tiny step in redefining relationships in a way I certainly could not envisage.
The burning question for me: how much value is being created? I couldn’t give you an ROI style calculation but for convenience in accessing information of interest it’s hard to put a price.
It’s worth noting that Jake also thinks this is a great idea:
Right now, it seems ironic that the first conference to test eventtrack is OpenWorld, but such is the new web. We are all working together to scratch that itch, and traditional boundaries no longer mean anything.
So what if Craig and I work for companies that compete with each other? So what if we are in different time zones and have never met in person?
Thatâ€™s what makes this great. Weâ€™re still working out the details. This will be fun.
I hope that despite the technical nature of this work that professionals will be able to cut through that and see the implications for the way they operate. It is huge.