I hosted a group from Singapore Management University today, at the request of a former IBM colleague who’s now a professor there. He’s leading about 30 students on a tour of Silicon Valley; they spent yesterday at Apple, and today, they came up to the IBM Almaden Research Center.
I was able to put together what I hoped would be an interesting morning for them — they’d asked for a talk on IBM’s history in Silicon Valley, and that was fun to do. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do the research from scratch; instead, I was able to draw on the work of other IBMers and weave together a Research overview and selections from the Almaden Timeline — then I added my own take (including the Browser Wars). I was very happy to get questions from the students during the presentation — it made me feel that the effort was worthwhile.
The next talk was about Project Zero, which is attempting to provide a simpler development environment with an interesting mixture of open and closed source components. Again, the students were engaged and asked good questions (and this time, I didn’t have to answer them!).
Since it’s summer, Extreme Blue is in full swing, with six projects in the Almaden location alone. The MBA students gave brief talks about their projects and about their experiences — it’s an intense program, and I was lucky to be able to get all six of the MBAs away from their teams!
alphaWorks is another good IBM innovation program; its manager talked about its in-progress evolution from being a download site to including interesting and useful services, such as ManyEyes. And once more, I was impressed with the quality of the questions from the students.
I got to close the day with “Web 2.0: A Conversation”, which was just that, a conversation with no slides. I learned a lot from the conversation, too.
And then it was over…except for lunch, where the conversation continued (not just with me — several of the speakers joined us, and the students took advantage of their availability).
It was an intense morning, and I found it quite enjoyable. Who knows, perhaps I’ll get to do it again sometime!