What's the Big Idea?

Have you ever answered the same question from 20 different people? Have you ever come across a tidbit of information and thought "I bet there are others who might benefit from this"? If you are like me, you probably have -- sometimes all too often -- and from people internally and externally. Have you ever wondered, "Someday, there will be something that will help get this information out"? If you have, you will be glad to know that day is near.

Be Communities is a very significant project that is specifically intended to minimize the discontinuous and often redundant flow of information, by helping to make that information much easier to publish and get. Just exactly what is it? It is a Web site that is a super-sized enhancement of our two-way, electronic communication mechanisms, which brings together Forums (i.e. newsgroups), Blogs, and a Wiki in a unified user interface. Be Communities is a friendly, uncomplicated place for the world's infrastructure professionals to come together to communicate, collaborate, and learn from one another, with Bentley colleagues playing a key role as contributors.

Among other things, this site includes:

  • Support for member communities, providing both public and private social networking
  • Unified search
  • Different formatting within a single article
  • An easy-to-use, powerful search function 
  • The ability to self-edit or delete your own forum, blog, and wiki posts
  • RSS feeds
  • An area where you can upload and share files and photos
  • Did I mention a good search function?

Be Communities hosts a number of different methods of e-communication, each providing a number of very useful capabilities -- check out the links below for more information on some of them:

A note about the Forums. You are probably familiar with the Bentley discussion groups (if not, you definitely should be). We currently have a number of different systems set up to communicate internally as well as publicly and privately with our users. These systems might seem good enough to some, but things like the current search functionality and Web interface leave plenty to be desired. Plus, not all of the systems have a similar user interface or administration. Adding to that, the systems in place now do not integrate at all with other modern-day technologies, like RSS, and the need to replace them with something that is new-and-much-improved is pretty obvious.

"When should I use a forum, blog, or the wiki?"

This is one of the more common questions that is asked. Although there is some overlap, the general rule-of-thumb is:

  1. First, search the site to see if something related to what you are looking for has previously been posted.
  2. If you have a question or are looking for information that does not exist on the site, post your inquiry in the most appropriate Forum.
  3. If you want to share an idea, concept, or experience or make a statement on a topic that others can comment on but not change, post a Blog entry.
  4. If you want to document a topic that others can use as a reference as well as add to or edit, post it to the Wiki.

More and more information will be communicated about Be Communities as it becomes available, so check it out when you see it. And by all means, do not be a lurker and sit back waiting for others to contribute. Everyone plays an important role in this; most importantly you -- the more people get involved, the better the big idea will be for everyone.