Serendipity and O’Reilly
Over the course of a short number of weeks, I’ve come to realise that Tim O’Reilly is one of the most important people that I follow on Twitter. Important, influencial and potentially life-changing.
I noticed a tweet from @timoreilly
which resonated because I’ve been interested in web-based reputation systems since a former colleague @paulmjoyce discussed with me the various options he considered for reputation on his home-brew project http://www.thebuzz.at.
Little did I know the journey I was about to take…
Following the bit.ly link took me to a work-in-progress blog and companion site for the upcoming O’Reilly book ‘Building Web Reputation Systems’ from a team with a close involvement to the Yahoo! Answers portal. Without searching too hard, I came across a ‘beta’ version of the full book available for critical ‘crowdsource’ review and comment - it captured my imagination and I spent most of the following weekend devouring its advice and reviews.
And then the O’Reilly ‘intertwingling’ began to take hold - Building Web Reputation Systems contained references and links to several other O’Reilly titles - Web 2.0 Architectures and Designing Social Interfaces. Somewhat serendipitously, I received an e-voucher from O’Reilly at the same time offering Buy 2, Get 1 Free on E-Books - an offer I immediately took up on both of these (along with the Facebook Cookbook - for when I have a few spare hours to play!).
Web 2.0 Architectures was a fascinating read - covering the major architectural patterns such as Declarative Living, Tag Gardening and other key topics that make the most popular web-sites really tick. Designing Social Interfaces led me to gain a greater appreciation of design patterns, how they work, WHY they work and how they can be reused.
Designing Social Interfaces and Web 2.0 Architectures both had several references to ‘Ambient Findability’ - a 4-year-old study by Information Architect Peter Morville regarding how we search and how what we find changes what we are. The final link (for now!) led me to Gavin Bell's fantastic 'Building Social Web Applications' - another great page-turner for anyone who wants to understand what makes great social software.
In short, O’Reilly’s tweets have led me down an intellectual path that, in the space of weeks, means that I’ve accumulated more knowledge than I would have through possibly an entire year of a Master’s post-graduate degree. I’m astounded how much I’ve learned and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve retained. So much so that I’ve become very actively involved in Social Computing projects in my own company (a major investment bank) and am building a reputation as something of a subject matter expert.
A career change in the making? Thank you Tim O’Reilly - you’re inspiring. You have managed to produce a stable full of keen young technology writers who have produced a series of very readable, very relevant and highly engaging books on subjects that (although actively changing in the marketplace) will remain the gold-standard for some years to come.