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JRP Reflecting

Reflection – written September 24 , 1998

In late 1993, I wrote a paper called “Get connected”. It was about how companies could open themselves up, become more accessible, and generally increase their communications capabilities dramatically by using the Internet. The ideas would seem trivial today but back then they were somewhat controversial. I first talked about these ideas outside of IBM at Internet World in early December 1994. The response was heartening. I was flooded with emails from people (outside and inside of IBM) asking me for copies of the presentation. That is when I got the idea to create my own Web site. The motivation was two fold initially; to share the presentation materials and to facilitate a discussion. A discussion in the Internet space. With people who would subsequently inspire me, help me, critique me, and generally provide really valuable input which I in turn could use to inspire others inside of IBM.

The initial http://www.ibm.com/patrick was modest. A home page with a link to download the presentation, a few links to IBM Web pages and “my top ten favorite Web sites list”. That was in vogue in 1995. The initial site was just plain old HTML that I created and edited with a text editor. I don’t even remember which one. Then along came John Landry from Lotus . He had a small group at Lotus doing some work they called InterNotes. John was somewhat of a renegade in Lotus as some people characterized me in IBM. He had a conviction about how Lotus Notes could ultimately be the best way to publish information to the Web. Our relationship with Lotus back then was tenuous. We re-marketed Notes but there was not strategic development relationship. I was enthusiastic about InterNotes because I was an avid Notes fan (since early 1992) and also because I saw it as a way to simplify and expand my Web site which was beginning to become modestly popular.

I asked the Lotus InterNotes team for a copy of the code and they happily obliged. That was the end of me being self-sufficient with my Web site! It turned out that creating the content was in fact significantly easier. I no longer had to use an HTML editor. I could simply create Notes documents. As simple as doing an email.

This is where the simplicity stopped. Behind the scenes InterNotes was a cobbled together variation on Notes which looked simple to the Notes document creator and simple to the Web visitor but was a nightmare for the person who had to make it work on the server. This is where my colleague Mary Keough came in. Mary was (and is) an expert in Notes and she painstakingly figured out how to make my Web dreams come true. In particular, I had this crazy idea of expanding my “top ten” list to a “top fifty” list. It went on to become a “top 100” list and then I got the idea of creating “categories” of my favorites. Mary figured out how to make this work and I renamed it “My Favorite Places”. 

As InterNotes evolved into what it now known as Domino, the process became easier and Notes began to really shine on my Web site. Adding a new “Favorite Place” became trivial thanks to a form formula created by another colleague, Dipen Mehta. Now all I had to do was copy a link to the clipboard, click a SmartIcon on the Notes action bar, and then enter a category, and a description of the URL. Notes would then automatically place the link in alphabetical order, place it in the right category, and put a “new” or “update” icon as appropriate. “My Favorite Places” is currently over 1,000 links!

As the site evolved I got all sorts of ideas for things to add. I was encouraged by the many emails from visitors and constant feedback, ideas, and consultation by other colleagues including Dave Grossman, David Singer, Jane Harper, Jennifer Kilian, Todd Watson, and of course Mary and Dipen. I added sections about my hobbies: gadgets, running, gps, music, and technology. Then I began to write short stories I call “Reflections”. The site continued to escalate. Dipen expanded the technical capability and Mary expanded the Notes ideas. The biggest changes were the addition of the Photo Gallery (now nearly 1,000 high quality digital pictures) and the addition of high quality graphics by Bette Herod. I had always wanted to keep the site simple without too much glitz and Bette has done a masterful job in helping me maintain a down to earth yet at the same time sophisticated graphical look and feel. 

I get a lot of questions about “who does your Web site?”. In the beginning it was just me. I still call this my Saturday morning hobby, but as you can see, I’ve been lucky enough to get a terrific team behind the scenes to help me keep it going. The truth is the technical and graphical underpinnings are done by Dipen and Bette and the content and organization are done by me. But its still my hobby. I enjoy writing content and adding links. People say they like it so that inspires me to keep doing it. I hope you enjoyed this brief history of the site.