As a consultant, I sometimes found it difficult to write about some of the work I was doing because of non-disclosure agreements. Things only got more complicated when I started working for Microsoft, and although there were a handful of evangelists and technologists out there blogging and creating videos (Robert Scoble was among the Microsoft masses, at one time), it was still largely a misunderstood activity, and writing about your work was viewed as inappropriate or against policy in most groups. I was even quoted in the Wall Street Journal at one point on a topic completely unrelated to technology (it was something on leadership development) and was read the riot act by my manager and by legal for talking to the press.
What a difference a couple years make, where I work for a company that fully embraces the explosion in social content and platforms, and supports my writing efforts. They will readily admit that they don’t always understand what I do, but they do see the unmistakable results and are huge supporters as a result.
While I am back under NDA with Microsoft on anything to do with the next wave of Office and SharePoint products (Wave15, to be exact), that's the price of getting behind the scenes access as a SharePoint MVP. Like my fellow MVPs, I am chomping at the bit to share what I know, and to correlate features and business applications in vNext to my experiences within SharePoint 2010....and even to 2007. It's almost funny how some conversations go in certain circles, when you're not sure what you can discuss.
"Some of the limitations in how that feature is managed has been an
issue for me. I'm looking forward to exploring this more in Wave15."
"Do you know if this is going to be resolved in Wave15?"
"Um, are you an MVP? I guess I should know that, but I don't. Are you?"
"Ok, are you in the TAP by chance?"
"Or maybe PEP, or some other customer product council type thing?"
"Um....nice weather we're having."
Talk to anyone from Microsoft -- anyone who has been there a while, been there through a couple major release cycles, and they'll likely tell you how much more hush hush things are. In a company that prides itself on widespread dogfooding of its next gen applications, feedback on just what will be under the hood in the next version of SharePoint has been very closely held. Some folks have gone through initial documentation posted by Microsoft outlining the APIs, but even from what can be gleaned from those docs, there could still be massive change in the end product.
The MVPs are a vocal crowd. The DL for members of this community is constantly buzzing with best practices, questions, scoping out of partially developed features or concepts, and evisceration of any new decision (or rumor of a decision) of the SharePoint product team and Microsoft management. And the level of access given to the SharePoint MVPs this time around has been unprecedented. I can’t speak to prior releases as I’ve only had my MVP award since January, but I keep hearing that this last MVP Summit was clearly the best yet due to Microsoft’s transparency and the level of access they’ve given us.
So here we are, still talking about SharePoint 2010, gearing up for the next big release. I have a number of things I’m exciting to start writing about, and have been working on a book that should be ready for release just prior to the SharePoint Conference in November. Looking forward to breaking the silence.