Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Thursday, July 24, 2003

I was over in Joi Ito's IRC chat room this afternoon. If you have an hour to kill, you should check it out. There's always about 20 interesting people hanging out there. I've met people from the W3C, Apple, IBM, and lots of other places hanging out there.

Chris Pirillo: "the death of email publishing, revisited." Chris is one of those that is constantly fighting against analog thinking.

Lest Chris feel unloved: his newsletter is read by people all over Microsoft. We appreciate very much what he's done for the technology industry. I can't believe that he doesn't have a lifetime supply of Peet's yet.

John Robb wrote about MyLifeBits, a Microsoft research project. And, how does that differ from a blog? Well, OK, a blog with a lot of storage and bandwidth?

Yeah, I don't know about everything that goes on at Microsoft. What can I say? It's a big place.

Jupiter Media Analyst Michael Gartenberg: "Consumer electronics companies are NOT embracing open standards as Joi says, in fact just the opposite. CE vendors want you locked into their standards and want to create interoperability with their devices not with their competition. Can anyone out there say Memory Stick?"

I can't stand people who try to steal software. In this case, I see that Sage One is trying to save himself $29 by getting a cracked version of News Gator (I'm not involved in News Gator, so wouldn't benefit from this stance). News Gator has a free trial period. If you like it, pay up and keep Greg in business.

Steve Smith gives his review of the beta of Outlook 11. In his comments I learn that a future verison of NewsGator is gonna support NNTP newsgroup reading. Oh, that is so freaking cool. You don't know how many times I asked the Outlook team to put a news reader into their product.

I was just reading Doc Searls "saving the Net" tome, and I was reminded once again of the meme that Linux and the "software should be free" movement is Microsoft's key enemy.

Yeah, our execs and employees are responsible for that meme (me too).

I really wish we'd knock it off. Linux is not Microsoft's biggest enemy.

Whoa, why do I say that? Because, if it is, then we must admit to the world that the technology industry is a zero-sum game. I don't believe that for one second.

Translation: that there is just a single pile of cash and we're all fighting for that single pile. In reality the pile gets bigger if we do a better job (on both sides). For instance, did Tivo take away anything from Windows? I don't think so.

OK, dummy, so if Linux isn't the main enemy of Microsoft, what is Microsoft's biggest enemy?

Analog thinking.


You know, luddite behavior? For instance, did you know that every customs office in the world deals mostly in paper? Analog thinking.

Or, look at NEC, it still gets its purchase orders (at least in the Mobile Solutions division) from companies like TechData or Ingram Micro via fax. Analog thinking.

Every business in the world gives me paper-based receipts. Imagine all the money that just gets thrown into landfills every year due to analog thinking.

Now, what if we could find a way to computerize all the customs ports in the world? Think of the value that'd add to the shipping process between countries. I alone was stuck in Frankfurt's customs dock for 10 hours trying to get my conference proceeding books out. They had no computers there. Everything was done by hand. And, they wouldn't take ATM cards, or credit cards. Only cash.

Move things through ports faster, and you create immense value. Certainly enough to guarantee every dock worker a permanent job. But, first you gotta get people to switch their thinking from "paper is good" to "digital is better."

I even see that Silicon Valley columnists fall into analog thinking once in a while. Dan Gillmor is saying that the computer industry can't come up with a good enough voting solution and that doing it on paper would be better. Can't we come up with a better way to vote than to kill trees? Analog thinking. That's our number one enemy.

Every business, government, or human that I know sometimes falls into analog thinking. Even those of us who work at Microsoft (we still have a paper-based newsletter, for instance).

How much do you think it'd be worth to the technology industry if the customs agencies all got together and decided to computerize? Billions possibly, right?

Right now, that's money that neither Microsoft nor the Linux guys have.

Yeah, believe me, I'm all for my employer getting as much of new contracts as possible. The guys at Apple and in the Linux cabal are just as hungry to get the business as we are, too. But, the challenge for this industry and for Microsoft isn't to keep Linux out, it's to get analog thinkers to change their approach.

Some other opportunities I've noticed? Cops who write paper tickets. Students who take paper-based notes. Nurses who use equipment that forces them to write things down by hand.

When every single transaction is done on a computer, then we can start worrying about attacking the competition. When every single human behavior is done on a computer, then we can worry about attacking the competition. When every single business does all of its work on computers, then we can worry about attacking the competition.

Until then, all that worrying is just taking our eyes off of the ball. I wish we'd stop doing that.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 2:45:45 AM.