The Things I Do at Sun: Video

My official job title at Sun is, I believe, the vague and essentially meaningless “Program Manager.” My Sun business cards say I’m a “Community Specialist and (Video)blogger”. I made that up in a hurry, and wish I could find something more descriptive. But it has long been the story of my professional life that what I do, even within any single job, is usually hard to explain in a few words or a standard job title.

People do keep asking, though, so I’ll take a shot at explaining just what it is I do for Sun, and why.

When I was originally hired as a contractor by Dan Maslowski nearly two years ago, my task was to help his group of engineers produce web content (I believe they had deliverables about that at the time, handed down from on high).

We thought this would mean white papers and blog posts, so I did the training necessary to be able to edit official Sun documents (you have to know a lot about trademarks). I then spent a lot of time begging engineers to write white papers and blog posts, including weekly meetings in which we all solemnly agreed that these things needed to be done. But everyone was too busy writing code to write about the code they were writing, right?

I couldn’t do it myself. I have at times been a tech writer (and a good one), but it would have taken me years to achieve the level of knowledge I’d need to write usefully about this deep technology. (Of course there are folks at Sun who have this knowledge, because they have been doing it for years; they are already up to their eyeballs in writing documentation.)

So how could we get vital information out of busy engineers and make it available to those who need it, both within and outside of Sun? We needed to find another way.

Upon hearing that I knew something about video, Dan and Scott had bought me a videocamera. In August, Dan hauled me out to Colorado to film five days of training his staff were giving on the Leadville stack (storage software). This resulted in hours of video about the nitty-gritties of things like MPxIO. The audience for this kind of thing isn’t huge, but they are dedicated: it appears that about 150 people (so far) have gotten through all three hours of this presentation!

SNIA’s annual Software Developers’ Conference that September (2007) featured many Sun speakers, but there were no plans to film it: Sun’s preparation, travel, and expense would bear no fruit beyond the (relatively small) conference audience in San Jose. So, with SNIA’s blessing, off I went to film it, with Sun colleague Ray Dunn manning a second camera to cover simultaneous tracks. That resulted in about 12 hours of finished video, which can be seen on Storage Stop.

From there, this video thing has snowballed. I’ve now filmed at: Sun Tech Days (Milan), SNIA Winter Symposium, SNIA Storage Security Industry Forum, USENIX FAST, Storage Networking World, OpenSolaris Developers’ Summits (Santa Cruz and Prague), CommunityOne, Open Source Grid & Cluster Summit, Sun’s HPC Consortium (Dresden and Austin), International Supercomputing Conference, an analyst round table, Open Storage Summit, SNIA SDC 2008, various Sun internal conferences, LISA, SC08, and Sun offices in Menlo Park, Eagan, Bangalore, Dublin, Grenoble, Guillemont Park, and London… so far.

More importantly, the videoblogging “gospel” has started to spread at Sun. More people have realized that it’s possible to produce useful video, quickly and cheaply (some were already doing it completely independent of me). It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and many Sun offices and individuals already have most or all of the equipment they need. I still do a lot of video work myself directly, but others are now eager to learn. I’ve been sharing my know-how as best I can (and plan to do more, in this blog and in person), and am working with other Sun folks (and others) interested in media to do even more. Let a thousand vloggers bloom!

…but video, though it takes up the bulk of my time, is not the whole story of what I do at Sun. More to come!

see also: The Things I do at Sun: Events

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