I hate to tell you but you need some help with the Java community. The basic problem is that people don’t trust you and you aren’t very good at community building; in fact you are pretty bad at community marketing.
I really really want you to succeed and community marketing is not that hard. The first step is to read this really cool book called ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’. The basic premise of the book is that communities are really conversations and to succeed you need to be part of and interact with the community. I know this can be a challenge with all your lawyers and marketing executives trying to ‘control’ the message but you have to do it to gain the trust of the community. Companies like IBM and SAP manage to do it so you can too.
Right now lots of people are talking about Java but there is a silent void from you. The conversation is happening and you aren’t participating, so people speculate and hypothesize; not great for building trust. Let me give you two examples:
1. The JCP Elections started this week. One of the companies up for a ratified seat is a company very few people have heard about, Hologic. Seems like a very respectable company but not exactly a mover and shaker in the Java community. Stephen Colebourne did some research and thinks you guys are trying to rig the JCP Election, speculating Hologic is there to stack the JCP. So far no one from Oracle has responded. I am sure you have a very logical reason for nominating Hologic. Don’t you think it is reasonable to tell the Java community these reasons? Instead other people are questioning if Stephen’s accusation is true; key influencers like Matt Asay and JaxCenter and btw it looks like Paul Krill, a reporter for InfoWorld is on the story so this will get into the mainstream tech press. This just isn’t building trust between you and the Java community.
2. I trust you heard the news yesterday that Apple has decided to deprecate Java on the Mac and ban Java applications from the new Mac App Store. In case you didn’t notice this is a big thing for Java developers. Lots of them really like Macs. I don’t expect you to respond right away but James Gosling and Steve Jobs is already responding. I fear given your past history of not participating in the conversation there will be a very long silence before any response comes. In fact this is an opportunity to make the OpenJDK shine. Get the community to start building and packaging a Mac JVM, embrace the effort and make it part of the standard platforms. Embrace the community, make open source work for your advantage!
While I am it, I gotta ask if you are talking to the industry analysts about your Java plans? Analysts like Jeffrey Hammond and John Rymer from Forrester are talking to your customers right now about the future of Java. Your customers are nervous and are looking for direction. You need to make sure people like Jeffrey and John know your plans, maybe even ask them their advice? Other analysts like James Governor from Redmonk aren’t that positive about where you are going with Java. You have to start participating in these conversations.
The great thing about the individuals in the Java community is they are passionate about Java and really want to help you succeed. However, you are making it really hard to keep the passion. Loosen up, talk to people, listen to people, most of us don’t bite but you really need to get a clue.
Concerned Java Community Member