Six degrees of separation...

by David A. Chappell

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Last week I participated in 2 keynote panel discussions at Web Services Edge West. One of the panels was on Web services and EAI, and another on Web services interoperability. One of the other panel members was Allan Vermeulen, CTO of Allan also had his own separate keynote which was the show opener.

During Allan's keynote he took a humorous digression on the "Six Degrees of Separation From Kevin Bacon". This apparently is a fairly popular game, which even has several web sites devoted to it. The idea behind the game is that you can pick any movie actor, and in six steps or less, link that person indirectly to Kevin Bacon by matching up the co-stars of various movies, until you get to an actor that co-starred with Kevin.

At the moment, it escapes me why Allan brought this up in his talk, but it set the tone for me for the entire week. I wondered whether this is true for other industries, like ours. Meanwhile, in another keynote panel session, Anne Thomas Manes held up the freshly printed copy of the October CIO magazine article that I was interviewed in, and that I recently ranted about. She used the article to spawn some pretty good discussion points about the politics of overlapping standards. Anne and I go back quite a while. Among other things, she provided a valuable contribution as a technical editor for both my JMS and JAWS books. BTW, I affectionatly refer to "Java Web Services" as "JAWS" because it nearly ate me alive during the writing, due to the immaturity of the specs and implementations at time of writing.

While pondering this six degrees of separation thing, I had dinner with Nick Kassem and Sid Askary, who are fellow members of the JSR-208 Java Business Integration Expert Group. Sid is a member of the 208 EG as an individual, but told me that he used to be with Intalio. Sid pointed out that Intalio has its roots with ExoLabs, which was in the business of providing open source products such as OpenEJB. OpenEJB was by and large architected by my co-author on the JMS book, Richard Monson-Haefel. Richard is also a founder of the Apache Geronimo project.

And speaking of Apache, the next night I also ran into Chris Haddad, who is a fellow committer on the Apache Axis project. We hung out for a while and had some dinner at Birks. BTW, if you're at the Santa Clara Convention center, and you're looking for a good steakhouse that's nearby, you can't go wrong with Birks. Chris is an interesting guy, and has an entrepreneurial spirit. After spending a few years doing a startup, he recently made the move to get a "real job" and became an analyst for The Burton Group. Open source guru turned industry analyst? Has Chris sold out to "the man"? Well Chris is in good company, because he's working alongside of Anne Thomas Manes, who joined Burton Group earlier this year.

And speaking of getting a new job, Tyler Jewell, who co-authored the JAWS book with me, recently left BEA to go work for The Middleware Company. Word has it that he's COO there, which means that he's in charge of things like education, services, evangelism, marketing, etc. Geez, talk about becoming "the man". I'm impressed, but not surprised. Tyler has an operational and process oriented organizational streak to him. I recall that throughout the book writing process, he would usually come out with remarks like "that will take me 72 hours"--not 71 or 73 mind you--but 72. And he was always spot on with those type of responses.

This might all just sound like a lot of name dropping, and perhaps it is. But I have to say I learned how to do post-conference name dropping from one of the best, when Don Box did it to me while blogging his account of the XML & Web Services conference.

Now, I'm not sure how this can be linked back to Kevin Bacon, except that maybe he has had dinner at Birks. Surely he can be indirectly linked to someone who played in one of the JAWS movies. If anything, perhaps the software industry has an equivalent which is the Six Degrees of Separation from Anne Manes :)



2003-10-10 07:56:04
fun reading