Lotusphere 2011 #ls11 Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday is the last full day of the conference, and normally the day on which I visit the labs I haven’t yet been to, hassle the developers in the developer labs about my favourite bugs/features/wishes/etc, and generally start to relax a little.

Session-wise Wednesday started with the mini-keynote on Social Business, which was interesting. Even the panel discussion was better than the OGS one. Clearly IBM has a lot of execution to get through over the next couple of years in order to deliver on the vision they’re setting, but it’s good to see them reclaiming a leadership role in this space. Call it “groupware”, or “collaboration”, or “social” – it’s stuff that the Lotus world is uniquely well-poised to enact, because we’ve been “getting” this stuff for 20 years (okay, 18 in my case). Whether the “social” thing will be as transformative and long-lasting as “groupware” was in the 1990s, or whether it will wither on the vine in the manner that the somewhat over-ambitious “knowledge management” thing did 10 years ago, remains to be seen. Clearly there is some hefty software engineering to be done … we can only hope that the world hasn’t changed too much by the time that’s producing real product: IBM may be more agile than it was, but it’s up against not just the future next big thing, but also OpenSource initiatives like Joomla. In the enterprise space, though, I think IBM has a winning strategy here.

My next port of call was Kathy Brown’s BP208 session on the wonders of the @formula language. If you’re developing ‘classic’ Notes client applications, or xpages applications using SSJS, I heartily recommend this session if it’s on next year. If you think you know everything there is to know about @formula language, you’re probably wrong 🙂

Another session on Wednesday was Nathan Freeman and Phillipe Riand talking about strategies for moving Notes applications to xpages. At least, that’s what it was billed as, although in fact for the most part it was more of an introduction to xpages applications development architecture for ‘classic’ Notes developers. It was good content, but perhaps would be more effective if expanded into a jumpstart session next year: there are plenty of long-time Notes application developers out there who would benefit enormously from that, and I’m sure there still will be at Lotusphere 2012 #ls12.

Wednesday evening is of course the party-in-a-park. Every year I go, and wonder why (I don’t really do rides), so this year was pleased to have the opportunity of dinner in Il Mulino instead. Followed, of course, by Kimono’s and the now-traditional late night gathering in the Dolphin rotunda for the consumption of spirits. Thank you to my London Developer Coop colleague Mark Myers for supplying the (very strange-tasting) vodka while he himself caught up on beauty sleep ahead of his Lotusphere Idol winning presentation on Thursday morning …..

And so to Thursday. The scheduling of the Lotusphere Idol winning session against Gurupalooza was unfortunate, both because it meant a relatively small audience for former, and because many of those on stage for the latter would probably have liked to have been in the audience to support Mark. Hopefully that will get fixed next year. Mark gave a really good presentation, however, talking about what it’s like to develop applications off the Domino platform, and have to live without such wonders as the Agent Manager and document-level readers/authors security: things that we take for granted too often, and that really are a HUGE differentiator for Domino as a development platform.

After that was the new “Ask the product managers” session. This was a good idea, and a brave one, and by and large was pretty successful. I hope it will become a regular fixture of Lotusphere Thursdays. Perhaps it would be improved by having Alistair Rennie and Sandy Carter (or whoever fills their shoes next year) available in the front rows to field the difficult questions that transcend product management. It seems an inevitability that some topics will come up again next year, because they are massively important to the business partner and customer communities, and it would be good to get proper answers.

Thereafter we’re on the home stretch. “Ask the developers”, unfortunately without the hosting skills of Brent Peters this year although his replacement (sorry his name escapes me at time of writing) did a fine job. And then the closing session, focused on the IBM Watson project. This is a truly stunning piece of software- and hardware-engineering. I think it’s been amply described elsewhere, not least on Julian Robichaux’s blog – well worth catching up on. Eric Brown introduced it, speaking for 15 or 20 minutes without any form of teleprompt or notes. Engaging, entertaining, and clearly totally in command of the material. If only there were speakers of his calibre in the OGS! Then the game of Jeopardy, pitting IBM Watson against some “meat bag” contestants. One note to IBM: you made this mistake with Bob Costas a few years ago… don’t assume that just because something/somebody is well-known within the US it will be well-known outside. Most non-Americans I spoke to were not familiar with Jeopardy (including me although I knew there was a TV quiz show of that name), nor with the host. If you’re going to base something on American popular culture, please give a proper introduction to it/them before launching straight in. Other than that, though, although this was different from former closing sessions, it was still highly impressive and enjoyable, and a fitting end to Lotusphere.

In the early evening I went with a crowd of reprobates and rabble-rousers (aka bloggers) for a round of mini-golf, in which our team did pretty well despite Mark Myers’ best attempts to blast the ball into next week. Then a delightful dinner with Bruce and Gayle (and others) before another round of Kimono’s and a late night.

One comment

  1. Nice review Julian.
    In Belgium, we do know Jeopardy too (albeit under a different name), so we (previous gen) are familiar with it (it hasn’t been on TV for over 10 years).
    We didn’t knew Costas though 🙂

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