Community belongs to you! Not me!

So being the “new” guy on Frank’s team, I’ve been pretty lucky for the first 6 months of my Microsoft life, being able to bounce from pillar to post (not sure what that saying means, but I heard some dude use it today at the Sushi bar downstairs) without any real, “hard” (oooh) objectives. But this year, one of my big jobs (not number 1 either ;)) is getting down and dirty with the community.

So I gotsto thinking, what can I do for the community in Australia this year? And you know what I realised I could do!?

NOTHING! That’s right, Nothing! Nada! Nil! Nichts!

Why? Because I reckon it’s time we (Microsoft) slipped into something a little more sexy, and started facilitating the community, not trying to drive it.

Why again? Well, because I don’t think we can do it justice anymore. Now I don’t mean to take a dump on all the guys who worked hard with the community in the early days to build what we have right now, because I reckon everyone has done a ripper job. But I think the community has started to evolve, and become a bigger animal than we could have ever hoped.

But there is still more skin in the game (I love that term)! Personally, I have a vision where we have hundreds of technical communities roaming untamed, wreaking havoc, trading hoff-like stares at each other, battling for territory and mindshare through code camps and cluster offs! But before that can happen, we have to hand the keys over.

I reckon the community needs a rich uncle, you know, a sugar daddy, who fulfills all their wishes with a cheeky wink and golden toothed grin. We should be working with the community as a whole to determine the most urgently required pieces of infrastructure needed to stimulate thousands of community groups. Things like a portal with a community space for any and all communities, both offline and on-line; with a shared events calendar so any community group can advertise their next meeting and get some new faces to appear. Maybe some chat servers so communities can hold on-line conferences, then record those as podcasts. Or maybe even organising a community conference, where every group can come along and network. And what about sharing IP. I mean, I reckon some of the lessons learned on how to actually setup a community group would be locked away in lots of the user group leaders heads right now, imagine getting that into a knowledge base that is searchable by everyone. Or banding together as one to negotiate really cool sponsorship deals with other Microsoft partners and customers (we have some really good friends).

The point I’m making is that where ever there are two or more people who want to catch-up, whether it be on an ad hoc basis or more regularly, on any topic, then they should be able to, with minimal effort. There needs to be more diversity (what about groups for junior developers, university faculty, architects) and community control, with a strong focus on self management. If you don’t like the user group your attending, then create your own. If you don’t like the Microsoftee who comes and presents, don’t invite them back (and you’ll still get your DVDs!). If you want a hand setting a new community up, then you can contact the community leads in your area and get them to lend you a hand. Jeez, if you want to start a Notepad community, GO FOR IT!

So let me rephrase my initial thinking. What can I do for the community in Australia this year? WATCH IT GROW HUGE!

And like I saw on a snowboarding poster one year, if you want big air..pull my finger (leave me your thoughts and comments too) ;)