Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Friday, October 17, 2003

Yikes, I pointed to the wrong warchalking site. Sorry about that. Fixed.

PDC Warchalking symbolEver hear of "warchalking?" This is where you walk around with a Tablet PC, or other kind of computer, that has WiFi (802.11) networking capabilities. When you find some open network, you write in chalk on the sidewalk what the SSID (network identifier). OK, now, go over to and look at the symbol they use. This week David Shadle was asked to create some posters to identify wireless access points at the PDC. This is his version. What do you think?

The webloggers are piling onto New York Times technology writer John Markoff for comments he made about webloggers (latest one to do so is Elizabeth Spiers). I don't know, I'll stick up for John. I have, what, 1000 readers a day here -- John has a weblog already that reaches millions every day. Why, exactly, would he care about something that'll get him only another few thousand readers? That said, if this is CB radio, I want more of it.

Another thing: he asks us to wait five years or so to give final judgment on weblogging. I've been doing this for 3.75 years. People like Dave Winer have been doing it for, what, eight? It's pretty clear that there's +something+ going on here. Technorati is seeing 7000 to 9000 new weblogs every day. That's far far far bigger than CB radio ever was.

Plus, CB radio was temporary. My conversations are permanent here. You should be able to search on them in 20 years.

Brian Sullivan, a friend of mine, and an MVP, was recently giving me heck about our security problems. He's not the only one, believe me. So, I turned it around and asked him "what would you do if you were a Microsoft executive?" He wrote this list out. Excellent. I remember passing lists like this to Microsoft about products I used and some even turned into real features. You know what happens when you get a 404 error? I'm partially responsible for the page that comes up. IE2 didn't do anything useful with a 404 error. I told the team "give us some information about why the error happened and what to do." I've always remembered when Microsoft listened to me. I appreciate Brian taking the time out to write up lists of his own.

Jon Box talks up Infragistics' free eBook and Reference App for .NET developers.

I see Tim Bray is talking about BitTorrent and its ability to distribute porn. I met Bram Cohen, the guy who wrote BitTorrent, in the Seattle Airport on the way back from O'Reilly's foo camp. Real interesting guy. He says he doesn't fear getting sued by RIAA and that he's looking forward to the next stage of his life now that BitTorrent is pretty stable.

One advantage of having a weblog is that we can add our own spin onto reporting that gets done. Here's another example of this. The New York Times wrote an article about camera phones and Merlin Mann says that the article takes things in an overly sensationalistic angle.

Mark Pilgrim on the Atom API (article on

Dare Obasanjo gives an interesting analysis of Joel Spolsky's "recantation" of a recent post on exceptions.

Jonathan Goodyear in DevX (the angry coder): "I'm also a little miffed that Microsoft continues to completely ignore the opinions of its base of MCPs and MCSDs (of which I'm both). We weren't polled or consulted in any way about the decision to retire the VB6 exams. The decision was unilateral and wrong."

Sounds like we need to do a lot more work in getting community members involved in product decisions.

Of course Downhillbattle has the alternative point of view on the new iTunes announcement. Hell froze over. (not a permalink)

Jupiter Media analysis of the iTunes announcement today.

I was interviewed again about corporate weblogging today, this time by InternetNews. You know, just a few months ago I was attacking Microsoft for its community dealings.

Today things are far from perfect, but we have very active community Weblogs -- all implemented by community members with very little, if any, Microsoft help. .NET Weblogs; PDC Weblogs; SQL Weblogs; Longhorn Weblogs. With more being added every day.

OK, let's go back to the post I wrote back before I was a Microsoft employee in early February. I took Microsoft to task. That post was passed around to many executives. Let's compare that to today, just eight months later, and regrade Microsoft's community efforts:

Point one. Hey, Gates and Ballmer are richer. The stock is up slightly (about three points, which adds a huge amount of value to Microsoft). Certainly treating communities well does not hurt in the market.

Point two. Is Microsoft ignoring the grassroots? I'd give Microsoft a C+ today, where I'd have given them a D- back in February. It'll be interesting to see how empowered the grass roots feel at the PDC. Certainly with blogs people are empowered to talk to a very large audience (Longhorn blogs, in its first week, was seeing 7000 page views a day).

Point three. Controlling culture over communities. I'd give us a B+ where I would have given a D+ back in February. I don't see very much control from within Microsoft over the webloggers. I do see lots of concern that community members will do the wrong thing, though, so that's why I don't give us an "A" in this area. Empower people with information and they'll do the right thing and other webloggers will point out mistakes anyway.

Point four. Care and feeding of communities. That's my job. I've not done a good job yet. I'll give myself a C- on that score. At (and after) the PDC I hope to give webloggers a lot more care and feeding.

Point five. NDA-centric culture. There are no NDAs at the PDC over the PDC content. Enough said. But, we still are far too NDA-oriented. So, I'll give us a "B" on that score. Improvement still needed.

Point six. Do communities have a voice in future product planning? I gotta give us an incomplete. I don't have enough data yet to know whether this has improved. I sense it has, but really it depends on what the product groups do with feedback they get from all of you at the PDC.

Point seven. Does Microsoft get weblogs? A-. Not cause we're doing all that great a job, but that we've seen such a huge shift in the past year. No other company with more than 10,000 employees has more than 100 webloggers. But, that still leaves 55,000 employees who don't weblog.

Point eight. Product pricing and ability to demo without buying. B-. Did you notice that the Visual Studio team is giving people the ability to try right over the Internet without downloading or purchasing anything? That's cool. I hope other teams do the same thing and that trend continues.

Point nine. Microsoft is too big. Still true, but webloggers make it more approachable. Microsoft isn't gonna get smaller, but RSS news feeds, like those over at MSDN and on weblogs, make it far easier to keep track of everything going on here. I'd give us a C+ (MSDN gets an A). When the Office and Windows teams have RSS feeds, then I'll increase the grade.

So, in eight months, I've seen sizeable movement. Am I right? Do you agree or disagree?