G. Andrew Duthie points us to the new ASP.NET Community Starter Kit. Gotta check that out, since it's my job to help build communities around the PDC.
Lenn Pryor gave me some good advice today at lunch. "Be careful of the 'royal we.'"
"The royal we?" I asked? He went on to explain that some Microsoft employees fall into a trap of believing they are cool just because they work at Microsoft. He says he's seen people self-destruct when they leave Microsoft because they got too used to the "royal we." In other words, these employees got used to getting their phone calls returned. Getting easy access to the press. Getting meetings with important people in the industry. Getting people to pay attention to them just cause they work at Microsoft. Yes, I notice my incoming links have gone up, even though I've had far less interesting stuff to say lately.
The "royal we," if you haven't figured it out, is "me and Bill Gates." It's implied whenever a Microsoft employee starts talking about what "we" (er, Microsoft) will do.
The questions are, do I bring any value to Microsoft without using "the royal we?" and can I deal with customers/partners/competitors/enemies/friends/press etc without using "the royal we?"
Those are interesting questions. Of course, I know that my "royal friends" like Dave and Chris and Marc and all the rest of my 18 readers (not to mention my wife) will wack me big time if I start giving anyone "the royal we" treatment.
My wife says my weblog sounds fake lately. Like I'm holding back. Not telling it like it is. Well, yes. I haven't paid my dues yet. So, am starting to doubt myself.
Plus, someone (who doesn't have any power over me) wrote me a note and said "If I were your manager at NEC I would have fired you multiple times for weblogging."
It isn't the first time I've hit that attitude. Corporations have lawyers and PR departments for a reason. Gotta control "the messaging." Weblogging screws that all up.
But, sometimes, finding your voice again in a sea of doubting voices is pretty tough.
As my co-worker Lenn Pryor told me today "writing is for the brave." I'd append "or the stupid" onto that. Sometimes I wonder if I'm being brave or just being stupid. We'll see if I can get my writing to improve and get myself over some of these fears. Maybe I just need to take Bill Gates to lunch and ask him what he thinks about corporate webloggers.
Whenever I start getting writers block or fear of the circling black helicopters that so many tell me I should look out for, I go and read John Porcaro's weblog. He thinks it'll revolutionize how Microsoft communicates with everyone.
When I was taking photojournalism classes more than a decade ago at San Jose State University, my professor, Jim McNay (who now teaches at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography) would tell me "look away from the main action for the story."
Now that I'm thinking about communities at conferences again, I'm hearing his words again.
Is the story weblogs? I see that the TechED Weblogs have already started up. This is really cool. It's a lot better than we had at conferences even a year ago. But, what's next?
Is it social software? Networking? Is it a new kind of conference? Is it Marc Canter singing opera?
I've noticed that if I get three interesting people in a room that wild things happen. Invite Doc Searls, and Dave Winer to dinner, and you'll have 40 interesting people who want to come too. Or more. Invite only one of them, and the creative sparks that fly just aren't as interesting.
The real problem is that if you wanna hear what someone like Chris Pirillo has to say, you either gotta sit in the audience and shut up, or you gotta have a private dinner with him where you can poke his mind.
That just doesn't scale. Also, if you're new to a conference, how do you know who is interesting? For instance, I'm making plans to go to Gnomedex. Who interesting is gonna be there? You know, I need to have dinner with Chris Pirillo two weeks before the event to find out.
Then, when I get there, how will I find the interesting people? I don't know what they look like. It's a problem at a 600-attendee affair like Gnomedex. It's totally daunting at an affair like TechED or PDC or JavaOne. Unless I'm right in front of them, I can't read their badges anyway.
So, what's the answer? When you arrive at a 6000-8000 attendee deal, like TechED has this week, how do you find out what's interesting? Who's interesting? Where to go for the fun stuff?
What do you all want when you go to a conference like JavaOne or Comdex or PDC or TechED? How can technology help?
What an interesting day to be working at Microsoft. I learned, along with all of you, that Microsoft paid AOL $750 million to settle the Netscape lawsuit. Here's the conference call where Bill Gates and Richard Parsons (Microsoft's and AOL's top execs) explain the deal.
Dave Winer says "it's not fair to say that Tim blames MS for all the web's problems" in my comments.
Tim Bray blames Microsoft for all the Web's problems. He also says Microsoft doesn't care and Microsoft "just don't get it."
As part of the "re-education of Robert Scoble" I'm reading Adam Barr's "Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters."
Interesting book about his experiences of working for 10 years at Microsoft. I'll have more to say when I get done.
I also caught Adam's thoughts about corporate weblogging here: "A world where Microsoft is leading the way in setting web services standards, and a major force in the world of blog content, may not be what the bloggers of today envision. But it may be what happens."