From the Editor
Getting the Right QuestionsBy Tom Haunert
Both questions and answers are important sources of information.
Your search for information technology answers may lead you to attend a conference, call or meet with an expert, send an e-mail, post a question in a forum, look at a Web site, look at user documentation, or even run a SQL query against an Oracle Database. Your search for answers may also include follow-up questions and additional questions for other sources. Your questions are designed to get the answers you need, but questions themselves can be an important source of information, too.
One Time, at Oracle OpenWorld . . .
Several years ago I was responsible for setting up some small technology discussion groups at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The plan was to invite Oracle Magazine readers to ask questions of well-known Oracle technology experts.
I had expected rather formal question-and-answer sessions during which our readers asked the experts questions and the experts responded, and in several discussions—where the experts were Oracle employees—this was exactly the Q&A flow.
In some discussions that were led by well-known, independent Oracle consultants, however, our readers asked and answered the questions. The readers became an ad hoc Oracle user group and were completing each other's sentences, quoting database best practices, referring to undocumented parameters (not-so-good practices), and asking about and offering up every possible answer they could think of. Rarely did the consultants offer a response that no one else in the room had mentioned.
These discussions were also the best collection of Oracle customer feedback that I've ever heard. The readers provided opinions and suggestions for new and enhanced product features (answers) and specific requests for information (questions). From all of these discussions, I walked away with plans for several new article topics for upcoming issues of Oracle Magazine.
At a more recent Oracle OpenWorld, I listened in (eavesdropped, really) on a conversation between an Oracle product manager and an Oracle evangelist about what features and feature improvements the evangelist would like to see in the next release of an Oracle product. The product manager took notes on the questions and gave status information on current and upcoming features. These questions and answers definitely affected the next release(s) of that product, and I came away with questions, answers, and ideas for more new content for Oracle Magazine.
It's not just questions and answers from conference discussions that influence Oracle products and Oracle Magazine content. For example, we invite our readers to send us corrections (answers), opinions (answers), and requests for content (questions) to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we use this reader input to help determine what goes into Oracle Magazine. (We publish select e-mail from Oracle Magazine readers in our From Our Readers column.)
New Questions, New Answers
I'll be asking and answering questions, listening to discussions, and getting information for upcoming magazine content at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, November 11-15, 2007. This year, Oracle OpenWorld features more than 1,600 sessions and 450 exhibitors—which means lots of formal questions and answers, and with thousands of attendees, there will be plenty of informal discussions, Q&A sessions, and networking opportunities for more information exchanges.
If you're able, bring your questions and answers to share at Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco. And of course all your questions and answers don't need to be about Oracle technology and innovation. "What's the best restaurant in San Francisco?" and "Is the performer at the Appreciation Event as good live as he was at the Superbowl [on TV]?" are both excellent questions.
And if you can't attend Oracle OpenWorld in person, tune into the keynotes and check out the presentations at oracle.com/openworld/2007. Online or in person, enjoy the show.
Tom Haunert , Editor in Chief