In my last post, I spoke of the IBM Connect show itself, and what it meant from a show and technology perspective for me. That’s only part of the story. The real value in Lotusphere for me has always been the people. The business networking is invaluable, but the enduring friendships are what truly stand out. These folks have become family over the years and this conference has always been our family reunion.
That’s what I would really miss most if I decided not to come. Not seeing these friends and colleagues in person would cast a definite sadness over my January. It’s obvious that other friends feel the same way. There were at least a half a dozen friends who no longer come to the conference who still traveled to Orlando to be able to hang out and see everyone. For some, like my good friend Tom Duff, it was a very sad experience to call it his final Lotusphere.
But like Tom referenced in his blog post, Volker nailed it:
“Let me tell you something: life is about people, not about technology. Your friends will be your friends. And you will see them again. And again, and again. Technology changes, friendship lasts. In change, there lies opportunity.”
And I know these friendships will endure. I can go all over Europe, or Australia, or pretty much anywhere in the US and I know someone I want to visit with, have a beer and a good meal with. You people are special, no matter what color you are wearing or what code compiler you are using, or how pointy my hair gets. I’m very happy to call you my friends.
I’ve always thought of us as a very welcoming group too. You can see it in the yearly Blogger photos growing in size year after year. We love to welcome new people in, and this year I was more encouraged by seeing some younger talent coming around.
It’s not a lot, and maybe not nearly enough, but I spoke with several people who were new to the IBM technologies in the last few years. That’s a great thing, and we need to encourage more to do the same. The only way our species can survive is if we breed more of us. 🙂
In addition, I was really touched by a post by a new blogger named Monica Mora who had always wanted to go to the conference, and this year she made it a reality. It’s a great post on the real power of “social” in our community. I’d love to hear more of these voices in the future.
Speaking of hearing voices, one of the best things to humanize Lotusphere are the Nerd Girl Spark Ideas talks. If you want to really get to know the kind, caring, artistic folks of our community, this is a wonderful place to start, and it’s not about our technology choices at all.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the week started with a tragedy to our Lotus family. A Danish gentlemen named Kenneth Kjærbye passed away after a freak accident during the annual motorcycle ride that many of my friends and a co-worker partake in. By all accounts, everyone from the police, to the motorcycle shop, to IBM were very supportive and responded warmly and wonderfully given the situation. I could only offer my condolences, hugs and support to all of my friends who were deeply affected. They carried on with brave faces, but I know how much they were hurting. Once again, this community came together to help however they could, and I’ve heard from the folks affected how much is was appreciated. My thoughts are with all of you, and especially Kenneth’s family.
These are the extremes of this family. We grieve together, and we enjoy life to the fullest together, and celebrate everything in between. These people, you people reading this, are what makes this conference and our community special. Big virtual hugs to you all until we meet again.