There's a good, two part podcast featuring Jon 'Maddog' Hall, a long-time open source advocate, which is being hosted by IBM DeveloperWorks. I like the idea of DeveloperWorks focused podcasts and am of the perspective that IBM is sitting on a potential goldmine. Using the reach of its technical communities like DeveloperWorks towards spotlighting qualified members therein as standouts in particular fields of specialization would help put a face on some of the folks who are responsible of the successes of those entities. Don't get me wrong, it's paramount to come off as one big, integrated machine when it comes to selling servers and global services but it is equally important to expose the human element of open source communities. After all, that's what makes these things go.
One example is Sun Microsystems, which makes sure that its people are able to tap into and contribute to the company's vision of community-driven transparency and communication. They provide comment accessible blogs and transparent communities in addition to their traditional open source efforts. It is always a benefit to be able to easily locate the blogs of Sun people who work on NetBeans and GlassFish. There you can then find information about the events, milestones and updates that aren't always posted somewhere on a main/index page. Plus, it goes towards establishing a more personal identity for the company and its approach that invites participation by those outside of it. On a related note, take a look at Sun's open source Java community web portal to get a feel for how this can possibly be done.
It really is a shame that the same can't be said for IBM counterparts like Eclipse and Geronimo (I'd love to read some of the blogs of Geronimo developers as it continues to establish itself as a viable app server equivalent). Not just because Sun is the standard barer but because this practice really does pay dividends. Granted, a great deal of this is directed by IBM's approach and corporate culture, but part of embracing open source has to do with embracing its unique dynamics/requirements. Meaning, despite the fact that both IBM backed efforts are already quite successful, taking the next step (and yes, there is always another step to be taken) requires this issue be addressed. At the end of the day, the risks and threats encountered by encouraging segments of a community as large and diverse as, Eclipse, to begin to generate user content, are relatively minor compared to what remains to be gained.
Providing the type of forums that enable individuals to outwardly contribute to the open source process is quickly becoming a requirement for organizations who want to be identified as 'open source friendly.' As people begin to recognize the value of being open source they have begun to do more than just download code and fiddle with it by themselves. They are also looking to typically get directly involved in some way shape or form. Hopefully, IBM will step it up in this regard going forward. Alternatively, if they have already done so and I am unaware, please alert me.