September 09, 2005

OSW: Simon Phipps - Welcome to the Participation Age

Simon works for Sun Microsystems. He started Available for all Sun employees to write whatever they like.

Blogging is just a way of showing social interactions. Changing the way communities operate, that business communicate, that engineers interact at work.

Connectivity has got into the soul of society.

Travel 10 years ago he got a big file of local currency, plane tickets, when he got there to stay in touch he'd have to use phone booths. If someone wanted to send him a message they'd have to post something 8 weeks in advance to where he'd be.

Now he doesn't have any travel tickets. Doesn't need cash 'cos he's got a credit card and it's accepted everywhere, even in far flung places. And if he needs to stay in touch, there'll be an Internet cafe somewhere nearby.

It's no longer cool to be online, it's expected.

People assume they're connected now, which has changed all sorts of things.

From this position of connectedness, a group of the workers at Sun all realised they were blogging. One day it was suggested they setup a website called They spent time worrying about who would be allowed to blog, how they'd vet them, all sorts of things like that. One day when having a meeting about it the CEO happened to be passing, and dropped in and just said "why not stop worrying and just get started." So they just set it up and allowed anyone to access it. Even the CEO now has his own blog.

Executive support was vital to help them get authentic blogging up and running. Sun didn't have hand-picked-by-marketing bloggers, so their engineers were all talking about their work. "If we want to make Sun look good in public, we probably shouldn't leave it up to the marketers".

Not that important to Sun to have lots of people reading, but to have the right readership. For some people it's getting the three other people who are into garbage collection in virtual machines to read the blog of the engineer working on garbage collection in virtual machines.

They had problems with company policy, as by default it said that you'd get sacked for speaking in public about the company without PRs permission. "I don't think anyone has been fired for blogging, I think there are people have been fired for being clueless when using their blog"

Things you need:

  • referrer logs
  • ability to link anywhere
  • be able to talk about the competition positively
  • let them say when you've screwed up
  • people are allowed to tell the truth

Blogging is a step out of the dark ages of the marketing-death-ray. This is "Connected Capitalism".


Using Roller for both internal and external blogs, and also LiveJournal internally. LiveJournal is being used quite a bit for collaboration within a team to keep their lab books online. Posted by Adrian at September 9, 2005 10:49 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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