Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Sunday, August 03, 2003

Ali says his weblog hasn't been blocked, in my comments. Sorry for the mistake.

Lora has a great rant about the difficulty that this industry has in getting educators to buy technology (in this case eBooks).

I've spent a bit of time around educators, and they spend most of their time in the classroom teaching. And they have usually 30 to 40 kids to keep track of, so they are doing some babysitting too.

Learning technology requires trying things. It's very hard to try things when most of your life is spent doing things that don't require you to get your hands on a keyboard.

How do you market to people who don't experiment? That's very expensive. It's why geeks don't do it well. Why is it expensive? Well, how do you reach someone who doesn't check weblogs, or doesn't have RSS, or doesn't regularly use Google? You gotta send them paper. Or visit them. Very expensive.

That's one reason this industry gives up on educators. If you can't acquire customers efficiently, you can't profitably make a market. At some point, though, eBooks will take off. The word-of-mouth networks will eventually do the job.

For the past three months I've been using MSN to dial up to the Internet. Yeah, I'm blogging through a 33.6 kbps modem. Yuch!

But, MSN is interesting and just this weekend they added a new feature. Now it says "good evening Robert." That so freaks me out. I know it's just an audio file that's played in response to an event firing, but it adds a weird human touch to the computer. My wife responds to the voice "good evening to you too."

We're talking to our computers. I think we've lost it.

Tosh Meston has a great feature idea for RSS news aggregator writers and he pays me a compliment at the same time.

Mark Pilgrim shows how he reinstalled Windows XP. Yeah, I know what you mean Mark. I need to reinstall this machine too. Not looking forward to it.

Hey, Maryam, here's one for you: RSS Jobs.

Yeah, Maryam is still looking for work. It's tough out there. She graduated with honors from Cal Berkeley, has managed events for all sorts of different companies, and still can't find a job. And they are saying the recession is over? Yeah, right.

Thanks to Brent Simmons for that link.

My co-worker Steve Cellini deserves the credit for telling me about the Tex Johnston story. Vic Gundotra put up an email from Steve on his internal weblog (private to Microsoft employees only) which is where I saw it.

Hey, new look over at .NET Weblogs. Cool!

One of the advantages of living in the Pacific Northwest is that Boeing flies its famous airliners once in a while. Today one of the most famous flew right over my head. Freaking awesome. The "Dash 80."

It's amazing that this thing first flew in 1954. It's the jet that ushered in the jet travel age. Why is this one so famous? It's the one that famous test pilot Tex Johnston double aileron-rolled during its demonstration flight at the SeaFair in 1955.

This past weekend saw the latest SeaFair. I kept my eyes on the Dash 80 just in case they aileron rolled it again, but alas, they didn't. That sucker is loud, though. It's amazing how much quieter jet planes are today.

Why do I care about this historic feat and historic plane? It was among one of the best evangelistic manuevers in modern history. It convinced millions that airplane travel is safe (the industry had had a bunch of well-publicised disasters before -- Tex's roll convinced everyone of the new plane's sturdiness).

I also was reminded of another important lesson today at Sea Fair (I didn't go, but watched the boat races on TV while packing boxes). Dave Villwock, the guy driving Miss Budweiser, ended up winning the unlimited hydroplane boat race. But, for those who watched at home, you saw some real sportsmanship by Dave. When interviewed early in the race, he said something like "I am just happy to be here, I have the slowest boat in the race today."

What's the lesson for me? Don't brag until you come back with the win. Why? If you brag, it gives your competitors something to shoot for (and lets them know they gotta perform better than usual just to take you out). Why give them that emotional advantage?

So, if I start saying "Longhorn is the worst OS out there" you'll be privy to what I'm doing. :-)

I'm on a Chris Sells marathon tonight. "No huggy, no kissy, until I get an RSS feed."

I totally agree. The internal weblogs at Microsoft would be useless without the RSS system. Now I can see whenever someone updates their weblog.

By the way, Chris, you've already won the lottery. Think about it. You're among the top 1% of the world's richest human beings. The problem is, we have Bill Gates to compare to.

Yeah, lots of us dream about being Bill Gates (come on, admit it, most of you do -- all one has to do is watch the full tourist boats that go by his house every few minutes) but one thing that keeps me grounded is to consider that more than half of the world's people live on about $2 a day. I spent that much on a latte today from Victors.

Chris Sells says he woke up the other day feeling like he was gonna win the lottery. Heh. That reminds me of a conversation I had 12 years ago with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.

I asked him how to start another Apple Computer. You know, I wanted to "win the lottery" like he did.

He said it's only possible once in a while when the existing business "expertise" totally ignores a new market long enough for new players to get going. He told me the story of how he offered his Apple I to his bosses at Atari and Hewlett Packard and they didn't get how to support a new business doing those inside their existing businesses. Total "Innovator's Dilemma" kind of stuff (look up the book by Clay Christensen to hear more on that topic).

Anyway, we've seen a few of those over the past 25 years. Xerox PARC had it all. Later, Netscape took off the same way.

I wonder, what's the next "big thing?"

By the way, Woz told me he never expected to win the lottery the way he did. He was just an engineer playing around with something fun. Oh, and he says when he plays the California Lottery he plays the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Why? He says those numbers have exactly the same chances of winning as any other combinations of six numbers.

He was even in a California Lottery advertisement saying that.

Oh, great, now the terrorists are thought to attack the ferries. Oh, geesh. This just shows how stupid our tightened security is at airports. OK, so they won't hit our planes, but they can hit us hard in a whole number of ways. When you have people who are willing to die for their causes, then any number of scenarios are possible. I'm not gonna worry about it. If I live in fear, then they've already won.

Jobs for John is a great idea. I'll bet if he visits Silicon Valley he'll have lots of folks to visit with. My brother in law. My former next-door neighbor. Lots of people who don't even show up on unemployment rolls anymore.

So, how do you get people back to work? Easy: provide incentives for rich people to invest their money in new companies. Look at the economic growth in the Silicon Valley in the 1990s. Did you know most of it came from small companies?

Giving a tax cut supposedly will drive economic growth by providing demand for goods and services. The problem is, that's not how jobs are gonna be created anymore. At least not in a way that matters.

We as a country need to figure out how to get rich people spending their bucks creating new companies again. The three companies I've spent most of my time at over the past decade were started with less than $2 million between the three of them. At one point they had about 250 employees combined.

It doesn't take a lot of money to create a multiplier effect.

So, how do we create policies to get rich guys to spend their money instead of sitting on a beach somewhere enjoying their largess?

That's the question that this country needs to ask itself.

But, "giving tax incentives to the rich" aren't very popular. So, we go in this death spiral. Politicians can't come up with real answers, so we do things like recall them. Like that'll help.

No, giving people $350 more to spend ain't gonna help in today's economy. Especially when most of us will just go and pay off our credit card bills that we accrued (and are still accruing) because we're not fully employed.

And people wonder why I don't get into politics anymore?

That all said, I have joined Microsoft's PAC and have tickets to see Hillary Clinton on August 6.

Oh, oh. I forgot to link to the Burqua Band. Sorry about that.

Well, got everything done early, so now getta blog some more. Yippee.

All the Roberts are moving. Robert Wlodarczyk is starting at Microsoft on August 18. Hey, Robert, when you get into town, look me up! We'll show you around.

Kumaraguru points at the "Burqua Band" from Afghanistan. I wanna hear them! By the way, Kumaraguru's weblog is one of the nicest weblog designs I've seen.

Another news aggregator: Feed Express. Open Source. Built on .NET. Windows. Ali likes it.

By the way, Ali lives in Tehran and says his weblog is blocked there.

Ali points to a good list of Iranian English bloggers. I wish Maryam would translate a bunch of the Farsi ones. She took me on a tour last night, but not much interesting worth repeating. There are a good number of technical blogs evolving inside Iran, though.

Dumkey has a great idea: "Blogger Here Stickers." I know I'd put one on my door.

Along those lines, someone in Joi Ito's chat room said they were thinking of making "I'm so Longhorny" T-shirts for the PDC. Oh boy.

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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; 2:51:15 AM.