AppsLab is asking what we want from them. They are the "think-tank developed to drive adoption of new web patterns and technologies across Oracle’s business and products"
I'm not sure where the OTN forum membership fits in their remit, or more likely in Justin's, but I'd like to see them built upon. Discussion forums are one of the oldest of all online communities (after mailing lists) and given the recent developments that have occurred in this field, it is surprising that so little is new in the OTN forums. There has been some recent development with the Ospace community for Apps users and some forums that are industry / interest based rather than "solve my problem". To be honest, I'm not convinced that the current forum mechanism is appropriate for that community feeling, but I could well be wrong. Private messaging may help, but that opens up a whole can of worms (eg for monitoring).
Apparently the forum software is an out-of-the-box implementation of Jive Forums, which limits what can be done on a structural basis. However the underlying data is accessible, and it is the member profiles I'd like to see opened up and encouraged. The Jive documentation and viewing an OTN user's profile indicate that "Occupation", "Location", "HomePage" and "Biography" go into the Public Profile (if set) and "Time Zone Id" and "Locale" are only used internally.
Anyone listing a homepage can reasonably supposed to be encouraging visitors to that page, and anyone can set up a blog or googlepages etc.. Biographies could be used to publish details about whatever Facebook-like application users may want to connect with.
So the first option is to let people search for people with homepages and biographies. That may not be built into Jive itself, but the Profile data can be replicated easily enough and an Apex application quickly built for this level of functionality. Then add in an RSS feed for new and changed homepages/biographies.
We instantly get a mechanism for any OTN member to launch their blog or resource page. Maybe they could get an icon, like the ACEs and ACE Directors. Being in Oz, I suggest we title them 'Mates'.
Some OTN forum members may not be the blogging type; they may be happier responsing to questions or are looking for help themselves. The 'Mate' search can work off that by adding in the potential to build linguistic and geographical contacts, using the Locale and Location values. Locale is chosen from a list and would be good for an initial filter option, with the free-text location as an option below that. That can encourage people in the same area to make contacts, perhaps form or join a user group or mentoring or even employment opportunities.