SharePoint beyond the Intranet

Okay, let's face it. SharePoint (when appropriately used) kicks as a collaboration tool. I don't know how many times I've been asked about sharing knowledge only to say "well SharePoint can do this". I don't know how many times I've seen teams wanting to cobble together a website with FrontPage or throw up a forum tool or something when "SharePoint can do it" (the struggle with the evil IT empire [our strategy and architecture guys] and how we can't just do what's right vs. correct is a whole 'nuther conversation). Grant you, SharePoint isn't all things to all people, but from a collaboration viewpoint it's pretty nifty.

My fellow SharePoint lover (hmm, that didn't come out quite right) Amanda Murphy (and a Canadian to boot), posed the question of Virtual SharePoint User Groups. While we're all squibbing away building our intranet solutions, it seems that we might be missing the one thing that SharePoint is great for and the one thing that might bring some order to this chaos. The internet is a big ugly place (as I put on all my blueprints, a nasty stormcloud with the words "big bad interweb") and trying to filter information out at the same time balancing what's worthy is just as ugly. I've got I don't know how many bookmarks that I use to hunt down things, a few dozen RSS feeds, countless forum userids and passwords, yet still information fall through the cracks and I'll stumble across a "wow, I didn't know that" each day.

Microsoft is making some headway in building Technical Community Sites where like people with like thoughts can meet and swap good stuff. We all know User Groups are a great thing (the .NET one here in Cowtown has some great events and is very value-added IMHO). So Amanda puts in my head the notion of a more global User Group. Still a special interest group around that thing we call SharePoint (or SPS, WSS, or whatever acronym you want to throw out there) but why not extend the very tool itself we use each day to accomodate this? Exactly how to get things going, I'm not sure. I do have a passion for this though and would like to see where it goes.

Anyways, some food for thought and perhaps an evolution towards a more unified collaboration across virtual boundaries that might make life a little bit easier one day for some of us.


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