Wikis & Weblogs in the Java.net Developer Community
Last week Sun launched Java.net, the first large scale developer community to incorporate wikis and weblogs (disclosure: Socialtext consulted on its design). Serving up to 3 million users, it will expose new users to these powerful communication and collaboration tools. But it is no accident that the largest business case of weblog use is a developer community, developers have been using these tools since they were invented.
The community also leverages editorial content from O'Reilly and CollabNet developer tools. Any developer, particularly open source projects, should consider taking advantage of the free resources provided. Smaller companies should consider hosting their own developer communities there as well.
Aside from the community-wide weblogs (Daniel Steinberg, James "the Java guy" Gosling) and a wiki, each wiki and weblogs are tools within sub-community projects. You can even view weblogs by community. One evangelist blogged JavaOne using his phone cam. This community is bringing some great new voices into the fold (all RSS enabled), like Richard Gabriel who lays out the vision of Java.net:
...We think of creativity as an individual talent, but communities can be creative, too. And the sorts of things a community can build are considerably larger than those an individual can. There are many examples. Cathedrals in the Middle Ages were built by a long-lived community of builders, artisans, carpenters, sculptors, stone cutters, woodcutters, ceramics makers, glass makers, painters, and ordinary people working as laborers, based on a model created by an architect perhaps decades earlier, but inspired by a common vision of what that cathedral will be.
Programming languages have been defined by widely dispersed communities using email and similar tools. Linux -- itself a cathedral-like project -- has spawned tens of thousands of other projects, some adding well-known pieces to Linux and others stretching the imagination or bringing to Linux functionality once found only elsewhere. The software patterns community was self-created without any support whatsoever from funding agencies or corporations; similar stories are true of the Agile and eXtreme Programming communities. These are all highly influential and widespread communities now.
The vision of java.net is to build a self-creating and self-governed web place where communities can join together -- either loosely through federation or tightly by living on java.net -- to build something like a diverse city of diverse communities, individuals, and companies who are engaged in using the Java language and technology in both routine and innovative ways. The purpose is to bring people together to increase the density of triggers so that new markets and resources are created...
Now its only a week old, there are more projects than you can count, and some really active communities like Java Desktop and Java Games. The community isn't all Sun and Java, other communities are either hosted, federated or linked. By design, communities can easily cross-polinate to spark new projects.
Other open developer communities leverage wikis, like OSAF's Chandler project, Technorati and the Social Software Alliance. Its a natural fit because the tools work for more than talk, but getting things done. What's different about Java.net is the corporate initiative, scale of participation and breadth tools made openly available. Sun, to its credit, provided this in an open ethic to create new opportunties for new people and stands to gain the just reward of loyalty in return.
Its a rather simple equation, give people tools to meet people, talk and code and great things happen.
9:29:24 AM -- Others on this topic: CollabNet | Collaboration | New kinds of communities