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The traditional Lotusphere (now IBM Connect) event wrap-up (of a sort)...

Category IBM Lotusphere IBM Connect
Each year around this time, I try to sit down and write a recap of the Lotusphere conference I just attended. I guess I can say this year will be different, since the conference is now officially called IBM Connect. But for me, the "different" goes much deeper than that.

It's not a secret that I'm doing mostly SharePoint work these days at my place of employment. The Notes applications I've built over my years of working there are being obsoleted and archived. By this time next year, there's a reasonably good chance that no active Notes applications will be in use any longer. Of course, that's been the wish since 2009, but one person can only do so much when it comes to being point for inventorying, maintaining, shutting down, migrating, and otherwise babysitting 2100 Notes databases. As much as I'd like to learn and use XPages, it would only end up being a personal project for me. I won't ever see Connections, and everything else that IBM sees as bright and shiny these days are not targeted as something a sole developer would pick up and use on their own.

Bottom line... when it comes to IBM Notes and IBM Domino, I'm "legacy"... I'm "classic"... and to be blunt, that's not very far away from being "obsolete".

So why did I go to Orlando again this year? I'm not an IBM Champion for 2013. Speaking wasn't going to be a possibility. A vendor was kind enough to let me work for them at their booth in the Vendor Showcase (thank you *so* very much), so I was able to have the full conference experience. But why go to a technology vendor conference on my own dime for a technology that isn't my primary focus any longer?

I'll let Volker Weber sum it up far better than I can:

Connect 2013 was very emotional. Lots of folks are afraid of the future. "I wanted to see my friends one last time", that was the most touching statement I heard. Tearjerker.

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.

The "I wanted to see my friends one last time" statement was mine. For me, it was more than just a tear-jerker. It bluntly and completely shredded and tore me up inside. For those who had the "pleasure" of saying good-bye to me on Wednesday or Thursday (or any other time, for that matter), you did not see me at my best. You saw a raw, emotional me. It was as if I had never taken an anti-depressant in my life. Not even Ativan (something I opted to try *knowing* I was not going to handle this well) made a dent. I knew this was coming. I knew the feelings were going to be there. I knew the emotions were going to be sitting on the surface, ready to make an appearance at a single word or thought. I even considered cancelling because I didn't want to say the good-byes. But ultimately, I knew I had to go. I couldn't drop the last seventeen years of my life by ignoring it. I know that I'll still see everyone via Twitter, Skype, etc. But that's not a substitute for sitting down with someone over drinks and having those deep hours-long talks that are forever remembered.

For those of you who don't understand Lotusphere, it wasn't a technology conference. Yeah, maybe it was in 1997 when I first attended, having a sum total of three months of Notes experience. But it was there I decided that this Notes thing was something I wanted to be good at. Reaching out to other Notes professionals, I learned what it meant to "be social". I learned how to speak in front of large groups, how to help others reach their goals, and how to be part of something bigger than the sum of its parts. It led to trips overseas, two books with my name on the cover with co-authors, and some of the deepest friendships I've ever had. Much of what I've become as a technology professional and a person can be traced back to a technology conference in Orlando in 1997.

Life *is* about people and not about technology. I'll probably see a number of my Notes friends in other venues, at other times. I thought Lotusphere 2012 was my last year. I guess this year was "My Last Lotusphere, Attempt #2". I certainly didn't go back for the latest updates in the IBM technology portfolio. I do care what happens in that space, and I am interested in where it goes. However, it doesn't impact me professionally like it used to. I'm traveling a different technology path now, one that for many years I labeled as "evil" and "the enemy". Perspective now tells me it's just a technology to solve business problems. It's the community behind the technology that matters. I am and will continue to make the same types of friends there that I've made over the last seventeen years with IBM and Lotus. It doesn't mean I drop the friends I made, as that doesn't change. It just means that those personal face-to-face times I treasured *so* much each January drift away.

So how do I wrap up IBM Connect 2013? It was all about people... my close and deep friends... and minions (you'd have had to been there). 2012 was not an easy year for me, and who knows what 2013 will hold. This last week was bittersweet in so many ways. At some point, I might even be able to talk about it without losing it, and without hiding behind a keyboard. I hate being so emotional, and I wish I could just flip a switch and turn them off. But unfortunately I can't, and I'm stuck with what churns inside.

Let me just say thank you for an incredible ride over the last seventeen years, and thank you for realizing over the last couple of days that sometimes hugs have to substitute for words, as words were just not possible.


Gravatar Image1 - I refuse to let you go.

Gravatar Image2 - You will be missed. Love you!

Gravatar Image3 - Duff - I saw you at your best - I saw a raw, emotional you. And that's not something you should ever be ashamed of or afraid to hide.

I guess I have a very similar story yet to blog, but for me it comes down to this. Lotusphere may have brought us together, but it's love that will keep us together. End. Of.

Gravatar Image4 - Yeah, sorry, dude. You're stuck with us.

And as someone who has ALWAYS been emotional (by 3rd grade I already had a list of reasons that my eyes were "watering"), I put out there, that the good and bad go together. In order to fully experience and appreciate the love and happiness, you also have to fully experience the sadness and hurt. I'm content to be a big crybaby, if the flip side means I laugh easily and heartily. I think we all know I fulfill that last bit. Emoticon

I love you, and you can't get rid of me just by saying goodbye. And uh, I just yawned. That always makes my eyes water.

Gravatar Image5 - Not sure if you remember what I said to you on Thursday. "Not Good-bye but until next time..." And there will be a next time...there just has to be a next time.



Gravatar Image6 - Others have already said it, so I don't need to come up with the words. That's a good thing (for me, anyway).

You're us. We're you. Neither branding nor jobs nor technology will change that.

Indeed, for all of us, it's all about "next time" - which WILL come. That's how this works, remember?

Gravatar Image7 - When Mrs H and I moved from London I left many of my best friends and my family behind. Over the years I've not made the effort I should have to keep in touch. I miss the long introspective chats, the laughs, the shared experiences I used to have. My world and I shrank a little as a result I think.

Lotusphere has always been a bit difficult for me as I tend to be on the margins of social. Despite the many wonderful interesting funny people I'm so much better in formal situations Emoticon Even so it's been a really important feature of my working life and so I can understand where your coming from now my employer won't send me.

It would be extremely cool to hear you share some SharePoint experiences one day,

We need our friends, good ones are as rare as hens teeth. They help smooth out life's ups and downs. So, this year, I'm going to renew some acquaintances and try harder to stay in touch and maybe have a little holiday in the Sun in 2014. I hope to make your acquaintance again.

Chin up.

Gravatar Image8 - Tom ...
A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. A far away mountain is way more visible and awe-inspiring that when you live every day half way up it.

You may be far away bro but F*** me you are inspiring :) and I like Vowe ain't fecking letting you go.

Expect to be pestered from Ireland in a strange accent

Keep the faith

Gravatar Image9 - You will always be a champion to me! Thanks for being you, Until next time...Emoticon

Gravatar Image10 - Lissen up good, Tom:

I started working with Notes in 2000 (after a brief not-really-getting it period of working against Notes V2 in, what was it, '93?) and "died" in 2005. One thing I've discovered since then is that you can't beat these hippie freaks of the software world* off with a large stick with many nails in it. Maybe yellow blood (or green now, I suppose, turning slowly to blue) doesn't automatically make you good people, but there sure as shootin' is a hell of a pile of solid humanity among 'em. When it comes right down to it, I was just a name on a forum, a bad blogger and an over-enthusiastic comment-poster on other people's blogs. I met damned few of the community in person, and never made it to LS. I made a little ripple in the pond. You made waves, dude. You touched people I only waved at. They're not going anywhere, trust me.

*Yes, that even applies to a lot of folks that like to think of themselves as all, like, conservative and stuff. They're just self-loathing hippies for the most part.

Gravatar Image11 - Lotusphere 5. Enough said right there

Gravatar Image12 - Lotusphere 5 forever. I AM...

I agree with you Tom. It's been many years since I've attended Lotusphere. The time spent there was special because of the people.
I met you at the beginning of my Notes journey in 97, and you've made the ride a memorable one. Thank you for your expertise and friendship.

Gravatar Image13 - Tom -

I feel blessed to have met you on Twitter and in person at Lotusphere 2012 and again last week. I will always consider you a friend.

Gravatar Image14 - To all... thank you for the kind words.

Gravatar Image15 - Tom - we are all on our own journey. I remember the first time we met. I had just left Boom Vang, you had just started there, and it was at LS and you and I were both walking to the Y&B. You said hello. I am glad you did.

Life will go on as everyone's career path goes it's own way. Connect will go on, as will content for Notes & Domino. The worst quote in the world is 'that the only change you can count on is change itself' ... and this proves it.

Tom, we will always be friends. The relationships you created will go on. YOu might not see everyone yearly, but we are collaborative online.

Looking forward to reading more about your new career.

Gravatar Image16 - You think you can get away from us that easily?

We know where you live.. ;)

---* Bill

Gravatar Image17 - Ok Mr. Co-author - you're not getting off that easily. I know where you live. We will create our own venue if need be. Things changes and we adapt - that's what we do! Hugs and a footstomp!

Gravatar Image18 - My hug to you Thursday night said it better then I can. This ain't good-bye.

Gravatar Image19 - Hey Duff,
You wouldn't believe how many people I heard that same sentiment from this year. This 'sphere definitely felt like the end of something. So many people came, not to attend Connect, but to hang out with the Lotus 'family'...and we really are a family. No two ways about it. Coming to Lotusphere for the first time I was welcomed and treated like I belonged in a way that I never had been anywhere before. And I've been to a LOT of tech conferences in a variety of different capacities. Lotus people are different.
The fact that people will find ways to attend when there is nothing technologically they can gain from the experience anymore (and you're not the only one who's done that!), speaks volumes. It's the people; that 'old home week' feeling when we all get together.
We love you, Duff.
No escape. No two ways about it. It's a family thing.

Gravatar Image20 - Tom, when you told me half-way through the week that it was your last conference with us (well, last v2.0) I felt the floor drop out from under me. You are one of those people that ARE Lotusphere to me. But, then I took a step back and realized that it is probably a bit silly and expensive for you to keep coming when you aren't speaking and when you don't get anything out of the sessions. But still a real bummer. For me LS is about the people first, then the technology. I'm rambling. The point here is that you will be missed at LS, but you are not getting away so quick! You live too close to me to get away that easily! :)

Gravatar Image21 - You may not have been a champion this year, but you're one of the legends of this community. I'm glad to have known you. No, I'm glad to *know* you, because as you can tell, this community is not one you leave.

Gravatar Image22 - Duff, as many have said, you're not getting away that easily!

I met a lot of folks this year that did not buy/blag a pass to Connect, just travelled, paid for a hotel and hung around the conference to see friends. Stay offsite or share a room, get a cheap flight and that makes it hundreds of dollars rather than thousands.

I well remember the most recent year that I couldn't attend, 2008, and it felt like my world had fallen apart. So much so that I resigned my job that week and found a way back into the Lotus business (by founding Collaboration Matters). That's not for everyone, sure, but I just wanted to say that like a lot of others, I do understand...

Hope you can be there in 2013, Tom...

Gravatar Image23 - Tom,

You are always with us. We don't lose people because they don't show up to the 'Sphere. While discussing it with others this week the notion that one can have a family at a tech conference sounded odd but for all of us, that is what it is.
If you can, we will see you next year, and if not, someplace in between no doubt.

Gravatar Image24 - Tom,<br /><br />You are always with us. We don't lose people because they don't show up to the 'Sphere. While discussing it with others this week the notion that one can have a family at a tech conference sounded odd but for all of us, that is what it is. <br />If you can, we will see you next year, and if not, someplace in between no doubt.<br /><br />

Gravatar Image25 - Duff - You can run but you can't hide, you're stuck with us as mates and we will come and find you!

Gravatar Image26 - I've learnt that communities last way beyond the activity they were set up to support. In my younger (read single) days I used to do a lot of trackdays (take your road car and thrash it around a racing circuit). Huge amount of fun but within a couple of years I was going along for the social side of things and sometimes not even taking my car on track. And when I no longer had a car worth tracking I still went along. Less time to do that now but I still keep in contact DAILY with the community, there are people I've known for 15 years who I've never met yet I know I could rely on for anything. Lotus or whatever you call it is like that. Which is kind of appropriate to me as the trackdays thing grew out of a Lotus Cars BBS. Perhaps its the name which creates the community? Emoticon

Gravatar Image27 - It's late, I've added a green bottle to the glass recycling bin, and the Ambien might kick in halfway through this response. Hence, if it completely goes off the rails and makes no sense at some point, I beg your forgiveness, and rest assured that after a few hours of sleep, I'll edit the comment and resolve all the loose ends. But since I've run the gamut of emotions this evening (at least!), I might as well ride the wave and let the rest of the tears work their way out... at least until the next batch hit me at some unknown point in the future...

To all who commented... thank you. Again, I have no f'n way to completely and adequately express what you all mean to me, and how much your words and comments affect me.

Stan: you are a rock star in the Notes community when it comes to forums. I can't tell you how many times I looked for an answer to something, found a comment that made sense, saw your name attached to it, and assumed with no doubt or hesitation that it was trustworthy and correct. You are the definition of "community" to me... For someone who has dealt with issues that most of us can't even begin to imagine, *you* have been the one to make the waves, Stan, not me... I made my contributions in other ways, but you were the type of person who was "stackoverflow" before stackoverflow existed. Thank you on behalf of myself and everyone else in the community who never took the time to say so.

My Euro-clique... little did I realize that deciding to travel over to Ireland to talk for an hour on Java (and dump water on myself) would completely change who I was and how I thought of myself (as well as how people at work viewed who and what I was in the larger community of technical professionals). I know you "used me" to get other non-Euro people to travel overseas to speak, basically redefining what a user group could be. I'll counter that I got far more out of being "used" than you ever did. Kitty/Warren/Steve/Eileen/Volker/Coatsie/Paul/Carl/Gab/Tim/countless others... thank you for memories that will never fade, and for making this McMerican something far more than he ever expected to be. I was proud to be your "off-shore resource" to make UKLUG/ILUG the events that changed the meaning of Lotus user group meetings.

Marie/Joni... words fail me when it comes to expressing what you both mean to me. Dogs and cats (developers and admins) can co-exist, and sometimes they are the only things that each other have. Thank you for everything.

Eileen... Big River Brewery at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk and Picabu's at the Walt Disney World Dolphin will forever be linked with the hours we spent talking there. The openness and trust you placed in me when it came to listening to you in your most vulnerable moments still blows me away. I will always be there for you.

Kathy... what can I say? We've snorted/laughed together, written articles together, shared cell numbers together (well, at least one of us did), and spent four frickin' hours on stage together trying to convey information and act like we had known either other for years... even though we met face-to-face for the first time around 12 hours before we had to act like we were seasoned professionals who had always worked on stage together. It apparently worked, as you were yet another example of me working with a first-time speaker who became a rock-star speaker on the IBM speaker circuit. You will probably never fully understand how much it means to me to know I had some small part in where you've gone in the last four years. I'm very proud of you, Kathy...

To everyone else who commented here (and via IM/email channels)... again, thank you so very much. Whether it was introducing me to people all conference long (as it was a personal mission for you, Chris) to allowing a shy, scared Notes guy to tag along as a lost puppy, it was all part and parcel of what made me decide at LS 97 to make Notes/Domino something I wanted to be really good at.

Francie... I realize the thought of an ewok-type "booth babe" was a big stretch for PanAgenda. :) But seriously, without your help, Connectosphere would have been harder, knowing I was mentally AND physically "on the outside looking in.

OK... and with that, I'm headed to bed before I beause even more maudalin. Enjoy your 3 day weekend (at least to those who have them here in the states.

Gravatar Image28 - Don't ever apologize for emotions, for caring, for loving. It makes u more human then most.

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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