Aug 1

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

O'Reilly Connection Beta Launches

Today, we launched the beta version of the O'Reilly Connection, a tech-centric jobs and networking site for developers. The service was originally conceived and developed by Steve Haldane and Scott Yara of Greenplum as a demonstration of what you can do with PostgreSQL. They subsequently contributed to O'Reilly, where it was further developed by Tony Stubblebine, with Nancy Abila driving the bus on everything but the coding, including management sponsorship, design, QA, site metrics, pr and marketing, and much more.

As I said in the press release:

"I've been fascinated by the possibilities of social networking, but frustrated by the need to build up social network databases from scratch rather than by instrumenting the real social networks that occur in the course of our daily life. We have an active community at O'Reilly-people who read and write our books, who attend and speak at our conferences, and who read and write for the O'Reilly Network. And one of the 'back channel' conversations among all these people is about finding developers to hire, or to help with projects. Could a social networking application help us facilitate these conversations? The O'Reilly Connection is our first stab at answering this question."
This is still very much a beta site. We'd love your feedback about what works, and what doesn't. We expect to add quite a few features in the coming weeks, but we needed some users before we could have enough data to start exploring the possibilities!

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Comments: 19

  Igor [08.01.05 09:16 PM]

I'm on there, great news from O'Reilly and great stuff for developers social network.

Great Tim

  adampasz [08.01.05 09:29 PM]

Uh, great. So how do I get invited?

  Ashvin Savani [08.01.05 10:20 PM]

That's really great service from you guys and I am sure that will be bless for developers.

  Martin Paulo [08.01.05 10:32 PM]

Yes - how does one get invited?

  Tony Stubblebine [08.01.05 10:49 PM]

Marc & Adam,

You don't need to be invited. Just follow the link above and sign up. We're a pretty open social network, you can browse around and use most of the functionality without being connected to anyone.

  Tim O'Reilly [08.01.05 11:21 PM]

Actually, looks to me like the signup is a bit unclear. (I hadn't checked this, because I was already logged in to the O'Reilly Network, and that gives different behavior.) The connection page does mention an invite. But really, all you need is the same registration/login that lets you post comments on most O'Reilly Network sites. So on the connection page, just follow the link that asks you to sign in if you're already a member. If you have an O'Reilly Network login, you can just sign in. If not, you can create a login at that point.

  timgroves [08.02.05 12:31 AM]

Small gripe: I would sort the 'Country' pull-down under 'Edit Profile' alphabetically by country name, not by the value attribute. Took me some time do find Germany (between 'Czech Republic' and 'Djibouti').

  Ben Metcalfe [08.02.05 04:04 AM]

I think it's great you guys have created a social network service – I’m sure most people would agree that the benefits and joys of O’Reilly conferences are as much about the social networking as the presentations themselves.

However, it strikes me that once again I have to go through the laborious task of manually entering who my contacts are into such a system.

This is even more disappointing when one considers that all of this “FOAF” information is already compiled in other formats – be it my email address book, my IM client buddy list, etc etc.

Whilst the context of using a social network to find good people to hire is (arguably) a fresh one, the interface and the mechanism used to create it doesn’t appear to have moved on since Friendster, et al.

I’m surprised you guys weren’t able to create a “batch import” utility that would at least take some of the work out creating this network – it would be beneficial to all parties concerned.

I don’t want to bash you too much, because I can see this is still a beta and having run an open beta project myself recently I know how difficult it is to mediate the pressures of needing to arrive to the market verses holding back until all functionality is available. However, I’m pretty sure these points (about using existing metadata to setup social networks) were raised and discussed by Tim or Rael at the ETEch 05 conference and so it seems unfortunate that this opportunity was missed.

  KC [08.02.05 06:15 AM]

I'll add a +1 to Ben's comment.

I *love* the books and have bought 15+ over the years (the most recent one being The Art of Project Management by Berkun) and am sorely disappointed to miss OSCON.

Anyway, I just got all this info into LinkedIn and it's a bit frustrating to have to import/find all these peopole again... any chance there will be a bulk VCard import?

  Takanori Ono [08.02.05 06:26 AM]

I am pleased with login such a great social networking system.
However, I don't really understand the difference from LinkedIn.
Can you explain how O'Reilly Connection is better than LinkedIn?

  Nancy Abila [08.02.05 07:13 AM]

Ben and KC - I'm a member of the OC team and in response to both of your valid points about having to enter in the same info over and over, we went back and forth prior to making the beta public about whether it was better to get the service out there as is or to wait. We'll be working hard during the beta period and beyond to implement these kinds of features.

  Nancy Abila [08.02.05 07:29 AM]

Takanori - the O'Reilly Connection is a targeted jobs and networking site for developers and is focused on an existing community we're already connected to. Sites like LinkedIn have a broader base in the business community and may not be a place where developers and engineers feel comfortable trusting their profiles and network of connections.

  Marcus [08.02.05 07:45 AM]

Wow. The interface was truly inspired. Kudos to the designers!

  Tim O'Reilly [08.02.05 09:12 AM]

Ono Sama-

The point isn't to be better than LinkedIn (though we hope we can make some improvements), but to create a reflection of a different, more focused community. We believe that there are some unique things that tie the O'Reilly developer community together. That's why, for example, showing people's activity on the O'Reilly Network -- blogs, comments, articles, and eventually books, conference presentations, etc. -- is part of the service. We don't see this being a huge social networking service for all comers, but a targeted one, that allows the developers and "alpha geeks" who use O'Reilly's information services to network among themselves, and to share the job postings and questions that are always coming to us via back-channel email.

If it evolves into more than that, that's cool. But think of social networking as a fundamental service, and not a site, and the question changes, to something more like "why do you run your own email server, rather than just using gmail?"

Maybe there will be a time when LinkedIn is so pervasive that it doesn't make sense to run any other service, but I think that will only happen when it allows the creation of specialized group services such as we're creating with the O'Reilly Connection.

I think one example that might make clear just how much of an O'Reilly community there is are how few the questions have been about how to sign in. There are a couple of hundred thousand people with O'Reilly Network logins; for them (and we had thousands join the first day), the signup process was relatively transparent, so that we didn't even realize how unclear it was for those who weren't already signed in to the network.

  ade [08.05.05 10:12 AM]

This is very pretty but what safeguards are there to manage who does and does not join? How do you prevent this going the way of other completely open systems and becoming filled up with spam or material that doesn't interest your target audience

  Takanori Ono [08.05.05 11:14 AM]

Thanks for quick responses of Nancy and Tim.
I appreciate your detailed information.

I analyzed the market of SNS in Japan.
The biggest SNS in Japan is "mixi" which has a million persons.
However, the biz model of SNS is not stable and job oriented SNS such as yours or LinkedIn don't exist in Japan.
I am analyzing the possiblity of success of job oriented SNS in Japan but there are a lot of differences between United States and Japan and so I think LinkedIn biz model will not be successful without change in Japan.

I really want you to make Japanese version of your SNS.
There are a lot of alpha geeks as you know but there exists a language barrier.
If you are going to make Japanese version it would prove to be very pleasant for me to help you.

  Tim O'Reilly [08.05.05 12:04 PM]

Ade --

While social network spam will likely be a problem, one of the advantages of what we're doing at the O'Reilly Connection is the way we display the user's other activity on the O'Reilly Network. Rather than just looking at some handcrafted profile (which may or may not be accurate), you're looking at a real time view of their activity in the O'Reilly community. Right now we're just showing postings on the O'Reilly Network, but we're going to be adding other data showing conference participation, books published, code contributed to projects we're tracking on CodeZoo (or other open source archives) and so on.

This provides a level of filtering. So when I look to add someone I don't know, I can see who they are by what they've done in this particular O'Reilly community context.

Right now, this is just additional data that I can eyeball when evaluating whether to accept a connection, but clearly, it could also be used to deprecate participants who aren't otherwise active in our "network", or to elevate those who've made significant contributions, much as google uses links from authoritative sources to help give you the best search results.

That's the whole point of the O'Reilly Connection: to instrument an already-existing community, and to reflect the connections that already exist. Membership isn't random. Anyone can join, but you'll only have stuff to show on your public profile page if you're really participating.

  Gerald [08.05.05 10:18 PM]

Looks good.

will you provide an API?

  Danno [08.09.05 10:55 AM]

The reading list section is confusing, should I treat it like All Consuming and just throw down whatever I've read and want to read? Also, since that doesn't seem to show up on other people's profiles, there's no outward indication of how it should be used.

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