What’s Next?

April 17th, 2008 4 Comments

Lately, our plans have started coming into focus. If you read here, you probably know we built Mix with ThoughtWorks back in November. Since January, Marketing has been making plans to use Mix a lot more heavily, starting with this year’s Openworld.

Yesterday, I told you about the project and the new direct messaging feature built by ENTP. Expect more sweet features from them in the coming weeks.

If you’re a diehard reader, you’ll recall we also run an internal professional network/idea site inside the Oracle firewall called Connect. Even though Connect has been static as far as features go since September, we still average 10,000 visits each week, and by now more than 35% of Oracle employees have logged into Connect at least once.

This is hidden demand. We haven’t done much promotion on any of the main Oracle internal portals, and to find Connect, you have to be sent the URL.

Our plans have always been to upgrade Connect to the Mix code line. Connect has no groups feature, but it’s the most-requested enhancement. This is why we built groups into Mix. I’ve been doing a lot business development internally with teams who want to use Connect for group activity, like the Oracle Women’s Leadership program.

However, we’ve been so busy tweaking Mix and working on enhancements to it that we haven’t had time to move back to Connect. A good problem to have, but still a bummer because Connect has great potential.

Well, we’re finally about to kickoff the upgrade process for Connect data, which will ensure everyone’s network, ideas, profiles, etc. will be preserved when we switch over to the Mix code. Once that’s done, and we’ve deployed internally, we’ll be starting on some interesting new stuff.

For about a month, Anthony has been tinkering with OpenSocial-enabling Mix. This idea is Rich’s brainchild, and I have to credit him with seeing potential in OpenSocial and dragging me along. Not that I didn’t see potential, but since the project is so new, I didn’t expect it to be ready for primetime for months.

As Paul says in his presentations, everyone should “Get a Rich”.

And in case you’re still wondering, the AppsLab had nothing to do with the inclusion of Oracle as a founding OpenSocial partner. Promise.

With Connect as an OpenSocial container, we’ll be able to start building and plugging in applications, which will really make the platform interesting. OpenSocial is all about portability for apps, which we hope will allow communities like the OTN forums, Eddie’s Oracle Community (hosted on Ning and already OpenSocial-enabled) and the new OAUG Knowledge Factory to plug into the Mix community and vice versa.

The beauty of making the network an application platform can be seen on Facebook. Facebook has a core feature set that is focused on what it does. Facebook apps allow developers to build and deploy apps that leverage social network effects, exposing their apps to millions of users. Facebook users can add apps if they want from a directory of thousands.

Everybody wins in this model, Facebok, app developers and users. OpenSocial goes one better by allowing portability of apps between social networks. So, if Eddie built a Q&A app for his Oracle Community network, it could be added to any OpenSocial-enabled network. We plan to OpenSocial enable Mix, so that Q&A app could then be installed by Mix users.

OpenSocial apps have their own data stores, so the Q&A app could share data between networks, effectively joining the Oracle Community with Mix in an area that is functionally valuable to both networks. However, because it’s an app, if people didn’t want it, they wouldn’t have to install it, so no impact to them or to the core platform.

I’m waiting for Rich to write a post on OpenSocial to flesh out the technical details.

Anyway, in addition to creating Connect as a platform for apps, we’re going to build out other features too. Eventually, these should trickle into Mix, since we’re going to maintain a single code line, turning features on and off as needed for each platform.

This is exciting stuff. I’m looking forward to getting started on the design, as the product manager. I’m also the project manager, which means dates, tasks and resource management. Plus, the recent business development stuff means I have to keep other teams informed, especially if they’re stakeholders.

Of course, I have to blog it all, too. I wear a lot of hats.

That’s a lot of information. Thoughts? Fire away in comments.


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4 Responses to “What’s Next?”

  1. Eddie Awad Says:

    Exciting stuff indeed! Looking forward to enabling collaboration and portability among all Oracle social networks using OpenSocial.

  2. Eddie Awad Says:

    Exciting stuff indeed! Looking forward to enabling collaboration and portability among all Oracle social networks using OpenSocial.

  3. Jake Says:

    @Eddie: I hope we can deliver on all this talk :) It could make for a lot of cool stuff.

  4. Jake Says:

    @Eddie: I hope we can deliver on all this talk :) It could make for a lot of cool stuff.

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