Packer Advocates the Human Side of Social Business
Martin Packer describes himself as an “IBMer, Mainframe Performance Guy and zChampion, who gets to think about lots of other stuff.” And if you’d follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook or read his blog, you’d soon realize that characterization fits him to a T.
Packer’s involvement with social media began 25 years ago, when he first joined IBM and was introduced to its VM forums. Used by the technical community to talk internally about VM operating system issues, Packer quickly discovered two things. “Firstly, I could get discussions going on technical topics and, secondly and perhaps more importantly from a social perspective, I could find like-minded people in the company,” he says.
The forums provided Packer with a vehicle to grow professionally and gain stature as a mainframe performance specialist. They also gave him the impetus to establish his own voice within his community. “In 2005, I became aware of IBM’s internal blogging site called Blog Central. I guess I was a late adopter of blogging as a technique, but I took to this one quite readily and that really was where I got started with blogging and then with micro-blogging through Twitter and a lot of other social applications,” he says.
Today, Packer’s principal social applications are: IBM developerWorks, his new blogging platform that’s open to IBM and nonIBM developers alike; Twitter, where he has more than 1,300 followers; and Facebook, where approximately 50 percent of his 300-plus friends are customers, IBM developers, consultants and other people in the field.
Horses for courses
How does Packer make use of these different applications?
“Well, it’s horses for courses,” he explains. “I got heavily into Twitter because a lot of what I had to say was very brief. I didn’t want, for example, in a blog post to develop an argument over several column inches just to deliver a one-sentence payload. So, for me, Twitter works very well. It’s not as rich a medium as Facebook, so where the richness of medium is required, I think Facebook is better.
“But I’ve returned to blogging this year because I’ve realized there are some things I want to explain and discuss in much more detail and blogging is the right medium. I think it’s a case of you use the tool depending on what you’re trying to do.”