The Lotusphere Blogger Program

Both Erica Topolski and Ed Brill have published blog posts regarding the inaugural Lotusphere Blogger Program in the last 24 hours.

Erica (on the Lotusphere Blog):

How do you make Lotusphere special and rewarding for a blogger?

You give them access to the people, activities and news that they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

Lotusphere 2009 is shaping up to be a fantastic show, with lots of exciting news, sessions and activities. But one of the things that we are most excited about is our first ever program just for bloggers.  The Lotusphere 2009 Blogger Program combines access to press conferences, key IBM executives, and one-time-only events designed to show bloggers a side of Lotus/Lotusphere they have never seen before.  Bloggers in the program will have special access to senior Lotus executives, an exclusive advance-look at some news items, early access to the exhibit hall, and of course lots of time to visit conference sessions and speak with customers and partners. There will be surprises along the way and lots of opportunities to network with IBMers and other attendees.

With only 25 spots, the hardest part of the program was selecting invitees. There are hundreds of influential bloggers focused on Lotus and collaboration.  Getting the right mix of Lotus community influencers and collaboration experts required the efforts of several people, many hours and some tough decisions.  The program goal is simple – help everyone learn something new about Lotus. With the group of bloggers we have on-site, there will be plenty to read and lots of different perspectives for everyone to enjoy.

Ed:

It was definitely hard to narrow down our selections, both from within the Lotus community and in the larger blogosphere.  I think we’ve got a good mix coming in, and it will be interesting to see what their newly-minted “official blogger” status will do to bring more insight from Lotusphere to the world-at-large.  PlanetLotus.org, Twitter, and RSS feeds are going to be plenty busy, and I know it’s going to be energizing and rewarding on both sides.

By the way, there are no IBM employees in the blogger program.  While many of us will obviously be blogging the show, this program is not about us.  I’ll be there to watch, though, at some of these special sessions — it should be really interesting.

I am thrilled to be one of the privileged group of 25 individuals chosen to participate in the activities, and will be covering Lotusphere through this blog, and my posts on the other blogs I contribute to – the Quickr Blog, the Connections Blog, the Symphony Blog and the Lotusphere Blog plus, of course, via Twitter and in photographic form on Flickr. My focus will be on the Web2.0 products – Quickr and Connections – plus Lotus’ SaaS offerings such as BlueHouse, though I’ll be trying to get a flavour of the whole conference if I can.

The Blogger Program is an interesting development from Lotus, and seems to recognise the importance of the bloggers (and the Lotus community as a whole) in getting the message out from Lotusphere to the wider world, both at a business and technical level. IBM has run Press programs at each and every one of its Lotus conferences over the years, so the program structure is not wholly new, the difference is that they are embracing us non-accredited individuals as they have done the big news organisations in the past.  I think this is really forward-looking, and also a little brave.  A few of the bloggers in the program work for larger better known corporations and so have some element of responsibility towards their organisation in the way they blog and the content they put out.  Others, like myself, either work as independent consultants or for very small businesses, and hence really have a free reign.  I think IBM needs some applause for taking this bold step.

Having just received the agenda for the Blogger Program, I can testify to the effort that IBM has put in to organising the additional schedule for the bloggers, and also to the efforts that all those in the program will be putting in to be involved.  Many of those in the program are also Lotusphere speakers or BoF organisers, involved in SpeedGeeking or track management, looking after customers, prospecting for business, helping to man pedestals and so on.  Lotusphere is already a manic and exhausting week and the additional program will only add to that.  Having said all that, I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for the world.

So, thanks to IBM for inviting me, and I can’t wait until Sunday for it all to kick off.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!