Lotus Redbooks

September 23 2007

I've been debating over breakfast whether to say anything about the burgeoning "Lotus Redbooks are dead" buzz in the Lotus blogging community.  I've read the postings by Carl Tyler, Christopher Byrne, Stuart McIntyre, vowe, Tom Duff, and Ben Poole.  When something is that prominent in the community, I try to share what I know.  Sometimes, though, that can backfire, as I am not often the decision-maker on this stuff and sometimes (as in this case) not even involved in whatever has transpired.  

For example, vowe links back to a comment I made two years ago when what appeared externally to be similar circumstances transpired...that link somehow implies that what is happening now is a repeat of what happened then.  It's not.  Neither time has IBM said that there will never be another Lotus Redbook.  There are Lotus Redbooks in the process of being published right now, such as the Notes/Domino 8 deployment guide.

But things are changing.  Tom Duff correctly identifies that the entire industry is going through changes in how technology books are published.  Cost and cycle time are both factors in considering how to best disseminate information.  New tools are available.  

For example, the Lotus Connections team has set up a deployment wiki on IBM developerWorks:
Image:Lotus Redbooks
It's early days, but you can see the approach being taken, and the opportunity for both IBM and the community to share, update...collaborate on public information.

A number of the comments say that IBM should wait to see if the new approach succeeds before discontinuing the old one.  I think that's a fair criticism, but one that rests up against corporate realities of resource allocation.  In other words, sometimes you have to cause a change in approach, not wait to see if one can happen.  All of you who blog, or participate in developerWorks forums, or have written your own articles or books, can contribute to wiki-based or other online documentation, without taking five weeks out of your life to go to a physical location to write.  This community has already demonstrated the ability to do this, through Show-n-Tell Thursdays, self-published books, and blog articles.  I hope to see you participate in this evolution as well.

I appreciate all the feedback already shared via the links above.  I can tell you from what I've seen internally that the decision to go with this new approach is a done deal.  However, I also know we've done some 2008 budget planning that would include Lotus-related Redbooks.  We will have to see how/what/if that comes to fruition.  I can't comment further on the how/what/if, since, again, this isn't my area at all.  I just wanted to share what I do know, since that's what a community is all about.

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