Open letter to Common. Subject: The Greying of COMMON. I attended the Fall Ď97 COMMON as a speaker. I have attended COMMON for over 10 years now and it was great seeing friends that I have met over that time. When I first started coming, there was an energy that permeated COMMON. People were excited, asking questions, learning, having lively discussions, even arguments. I wondered what had changed? The change was so subtle that I never quite noticed it happening over the years. Then while I was standing in line at Soundoff, I had a couple of revelations. The first revelation happened while I was talking to a person standing in line behind me. Iíll call him Dick. Maybe you saw him. He stood out from the other people in the room. He was charged up, he was excited, he radiated energy, he had his own company, he was 24 years old! Just as it is true for the AS/400 professional market place in general, COMMON too on an average has gotten older. I realized that the energy that once permeated and drove COMMON was youth! Dick was telling me about developing applications for the AS/400 using C++ and Java. He went on to tell me what an incredible machine the AS/400 is. He was excited about Single Level Storage, Task Dispatching, and 64 bit addressing. Things that I had taken for granted years ago. He told me that UNIX and NT (which he has also developed on) didnít come close to the AS/400 technologically. He reminded me of myself 10 or 15 years ago. I told him it was refreshing to see someone excited about the AS/400 who didnít have grey hair. He went on to tell me that his friends (also recent college graduates) have never heard of the AS/400. He said; "The AS/400 blows their mind" when he tells them about its architecture and runtime environment as compared to NT or UNIX. Dick sounded like a real evangelist for the AS/400. The comment that he made that sticks with me is; " They all love it, after they find out what it is". If the Fall Ď97 COMMON had a message or theme it was "Its the Marketing, IBM". This message was trumpeted again and again during soundoff to the IBM panel. People asked what was being done to make the AS/400 more visible in the market place. Numerous others asked the IBM panel what being done to get the AS/400 taught in colleges and universities. Others related tales of funds being cut at colleges teaching the AS/400. And then it occurred to me "Wait a minute, I thought COMMON was supposed to be dedicated to AS/400 education?". Maybe part of the reason that the Industry, the Colleges, and Dickís friends didnít know about the AS/400 is because WE didnít tell them! Thatís when I had a second revelation, "Its the Marketing, COMMON" ! I believe that one possible solution to these related problems stated above is as follows: Foster a partnership between COMMON-IBM and Universities and Colleges. COMMON conferences (both national and regional) visit many cities across the U.S. each year. In and around each of those cities reside numerous colleges and universities. COMMON & IBM should meet with university/college course curriculum administrators in the cities where the COMMON convention is being held. Another approach would be for COMMON-IBM to have "Pre-conference" meetings with course administrators and teachers from the universities and/or colleges. This "pre-conference" meeting (may be Day -1 or Day-0) would focus on all aspects of AS/400 education. Schools could even share solutions with each other concerning funding, enrollment, curriculums, marketing, and other challenges they face. IBM could describe the AS/400 job market to the curriculum administrators. Show them some of the names of the companies (BIG names) that send their employees to COMMON. Tell them that over 90% of the Fortune 100 companies have AS/400ís. Explain how much of a demand there is for AS/400 talent. Explain that the demand will continue past the foreseeable future. Maybe share COMMONís Top Concernís results with the curriculum administrators. Contact companies within the area of the conference who are COMMON members. Have the Companies along with IBM business partners, COMMON, IBM, and the Colleges meet in a round table and talk about the real needs of the business community in regards to their graduating classes and the AS/400 job market. COMMON, IBM, and the Business community can help develop course curriculums. IBM could involve the IBM Certification staff and the IBM education staff to help. This partnership would give IBM a more defined way to offer its help to the colleges and universities with hardware and software. IBM needs to understand that the colleges canít teach and turn out people like Dick writing Java Web pages in the AS/400 if the college is running V2R3 on a CISC machine! IBM could help by making available development tools like the Visual Age series for free. (Quick quiz; how many colleges are teaching VA/Java or even VA/RPG? Very Few, if any. Now, how many are TEACHING the RPG Cycle? The majority! Is that an indicator????). The colleges should be invited to a special guided tour of COMMON. We should jointly develop special tracks or COSís at COMMON for teachers and students of the local universities/colleges. The teachers and students should be allowed to attend COMMON and regional COMMONís for FREE! Maybe for a "hands-on" field trip, students and/or teachers could "volunteer" to help set up or break down COMMONís computer network at the conferences. Have the teachers attend sessions of the best AS/400 speakers to get a feel of what is really relevant when teaching the AS/400. COMMON could help arrange guest (COMMON) speakers to come into the colleges and do seminarís on the AS/400. AS/400 professionals could describe what it is like to work and earn a living as an AS/400 professional. If this arrangement could be formalized, we would have an excellent mechanism to ensure that the college courses stay relevant over the years. If colleges and universities taught the AS/400, the market place would continue to have new and desperately needed young AS/400 professionals. If COMMON was attended by the students while they were still in school, Iím sure they would strive to come back when they were employees or employers. This could be a major step toward getting a younger age group interested in the AS/400 market and to COMMON. We need this to happen before all the existing AS/400 professionals retire. A concerned veteran COMMON member. +--- | This is the Midrange System Mailing List! | To submit a new message, send your mail to "MIDRANGE-L@midrange.com". | To unsubscribe from this list send email to MAJORDOMO@midrange.com | and specify 'unsubscribe MIDRANGE-L' in the body of your message. | Questions should be directed to the list owner/operator: firstname.lastname@example.org +---
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