The Impact of Blogs.Sun.Com

Recently I was trying to describe the impact that Blogs.Sun.Com had on Sun’s culture.  My note on A Restrospective on The Aquarium has only indirect comments on BSC so I did some digging. Most (all?) of the people originally involved in BSC are no longer at Oracle but people wrote useful material for the 4th (2008) and the 5th (2009) anniversary of BSC.

Note – if you know of other good summary / retrospective posts, add them as comments and I’ll update this post.

The main posts are from Linda Skrocki, who was Engineering Community Manager for Sun’s External Social Networking Sites.  Her posts and others are still available via blogs.oracle.com, which still runs the origina Roller software.  If you want to look at the “old” BSC, you can use the Wayback Machine – for example, here are front pages from 2005 and 2006 and the last one before closing of the acquisition, from Jan 5th, 2010.

Linda’s Sun Blogs Turns 4 – What’s Next? has some nice statistics from April 2008.  At that time over 4700 employees that had collectively generated over 100K entries in over 4200 blogs.  Linda’s had a follow up the year after: Happy 5th Birthday Sun Blogs!

In 2009 Linda also published an interview with Bob Worrall, Sun’s CIO at the time.  As of 2009, there were over 4500 employees blogging (Sun was contracting), generating over 137K entries, and producing over 8.3 million unique visitors over that year.

Also from 2009 are all these posts on the 5th anniversary.

Overall the BSC program was a huge success by any metric.   This was recognized internally early (2005) on with a Chairman Award.   As Bob indicates,  in 2009 over 10% of the company employees were blogging!  Employees blogging came from the product groups and from Sun Labs, from engineers and technical writers, from marketing people and support people, in english, spanish, portuguese, chinese, korean, japanese, french, etc….  It was a global activity.

I believe blogging had many benefits at Sun; the main ones for for were, in no particular order:

  • Timely Documentation, Status Updates, How-To tips
  • Improved information flow that meshed extremely well with the properties of Open Source.\\
  • Increasing the sense of “ownership” of the products – everybody had a voice, everybody could help the products & projects move forward.
  • Building many “grass roots” marketing channels in many geographies, languages and communities.
  • Creating many feedback channels from the wide community; all going through people deeply involved in the projects.
  • Building strong personal relationship across people all over the company
  • Information sharing and conversations that worked very well across Time Zones (I wrote about this here and here).  Much better than email.

Blogging was particularly useful with cross-departmental / cross-geography information flow, but it helped even with information within a building.  Sometimes you would discover what your next-door officemate was working on via a blog post.

Additions

Pat Chanezon’s wrote a post in 2005, the Snake Skin Weblog, discussing the relationship of web pages, mailing lists and wikis, from the perspective of an individual that joined Sun via the iPlanet – Sun/Netscape Alliance.

Here is Tim Bray’s post on Sun’s Policy on Public Discourse from May 2004. The more companies I’ve worked at, the more I appreciate what Tim did here.

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