IBMers were last week treated to a re-enactment of the Hokey Cokey*, sources claim, as staff working on Redbooks technical papers were told of planned reassignment, only to be told days later by the architect of the change that it was all a "misunderstanding."
Redbooks is technical prose created and published by IBM Garage. "We develop and deliver skills, technical know-how, and materials to IBM technical professionals, Business Partners, clients and the marketplace in general," says IBM's blurb.
A well-placed senior insider told The Reg that Chris Konarski, IBM veep of worldwide technical sales and lab services, informed employees working on Redbooks content that they would be redeployed from 1 November to support technical sellers.
"All work," our source said, was to "stop immediately, books would have to be finished off probably by editors or contractors, all resident writers [were] told to stop work immediately on any Redbooks related projects and that there would be none next year."
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But then it all seemingly changed after clients reacted "rather badly" to the news. Our source says a number of employees working on Redbooks had even been assigned new managers.
This looked like a potential disaster in the making as plenty of group strategies rely on Redbooks and this threw those that internally fund Redbooks into "disarray," or so our source claimed.
Perhaps sensing a disturbance in the force or responding to the higher-ups – IBM management, not the Almighty – Konarski took to Twitter on 20 October to calm nerves and assure folk that Redbooks was not going the way of the dodo.
Despite some misunderstandings, IBM Redbooks will continue to operate and provide the technical insight and guidance its followers have valued and depended on for decades.— Chris Konarski (@ChrisKonarski) October 29, 2021
The response was positive, with one saying: "Good to know, the message that came out earlier in the week was very worrying." Another urged: "Please don't 'improve it' as was done to [technical sales support] Tech Docs," while another asked if it would continue "with existing team members or new?"
Others expressed absolute relief. "Redbooks are IBM's best resource for showing how their systems work in real use," said Jay Maynard (the Tron Guy), a sysadmin and programmer. "I'm also given to understand they're a lot of fun for the folks working on them. I'm happy to hear they're not going away."
An IBM spokesperson in the UK told us:
There was no backtracking here. Despite some misunderstanding, there was never any intent to shut down IBM Redbooks. As you saw in Chris's tweet, Redbooks will continue to provide the technical insight and guidance its followers have valued and depended on for years.
We asked if the staff simply imagined they were being told to move. "All I can say for certain is that there was a misunderstanding," IBM's press handler added.
One source claimed: "It was exceptionally clear what he [Konarski] wanted to do. But he's been inundated with emails and calls to reverse it." ®
* Or Hokey Pokey, depending on where you live