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Blogs > Marcia Kaufman

Can software developers leverage social networking?
Marcia Kaufman By: Marcia Kaufman, Partner, Hurwitz & Associates
Published: 13th May 2009
Copyright Hurwitz & Associates © 2009
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If you are a software developer, the chances are pretty good that you've across IBM's developerWorks. With approximately 8 million registered users this site has received a lot of use by developers looking for resources on coding, standards, and technical details on software languages like Java or applications like Lotus Notes. Lots of great information, but let's face it—traditional web environments feel a little static once you begin to use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. This is why I was interested to learn about IBM''s recent introduction of My developerWorks—a transformation of developerWorks that incorporates many of the attributes of social networking.

Why is this important for developers? Technology is changing too fast and the pace of the work environment is too intense for most developers to gain new skills quickly. You can research and learn a lot of material on your own, but you can get a lot smarter and produce higher quality results if you have an effective way of learning from others and collaborating across teams. Given the economic realities of 2009, many software developers recognize that time spent keeping up with emerging technologies and understanding the business value of IT projects may make a real difference in meeting tight deadlines at work, getting a promotion or even landing a new job. These software developers often gain a lot of their information by following bloggers in their special area of interest or blog themselves to reach out to their peers. They use online reference sources, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to find solutions to a tough problem and keep in touch with colleagues. My developerWorks was designed to enable developers to incorporate many of these resources and tools into one place.

Social networking is changing the way people meet, interact, and share information. That doesn't mean you can always make the right connections and get the right information in your specific technical area. You may know you need help with a problem, but you don't know where to find the answer. You may expect that somewhere in your own large company there is an expert with the expert knowledge to help you out, but it takes a week to find him because he is located in another continent. My developerWorks is designed to help developers find the technical communities that will help them speed up this process. These are some of the things that I think developers will like about My developerWorks:

  • The ability to create your own view by adding feeds for favorite bloggers and online forums
  • Easy ways to identify and find subject matter experts using tools like virtual business cards
  • New ways to share ideas and project details with work teams
  • Use of keywords and tagging to locate people to help with your research and skill development

My expectation is that the true benefits of My developerWorks to developers will go beyond having one coordinated portal for research and blogging or Twitter feeds. The unique dynamics of social software enable people to gain value from non-predictable events. It is hard to predict the right formula or set of circumstances that will lead to innovation. You sometimes get great ideas from following unplanned threads or from pulling together information across many different environments. Developers should be able to use My developerWorks to more easily locate the right circle of industry experts and business colleagues to help foster personal growth and innovation.

In a fast-paced work environment, time often feels like your most limited resource. The business needs to get products to market faster and there is pressure on IT to deliver more efficient solutions in shorter time frames, and with lower budgets. We often needs answers faster than we can even think of the question. My developerWorks is designed to help developers to become more productive at their jobs and have more fun doing it.

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