Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Saturday, October 18, 2003

Question for Don Box: how can my team get a cutout of Chris Sells so we can have the same productivity-enhancing effect you guys are benefiting from? Heh.

If you haven't figured it out yet, webloggers are playing with dynamite (particularly those who are identified as being part of a corporation). You know, dynamite can be used for good (it blasted out the tunnels that made America's first transcontinental railroad, for instance) but it also can blow your hand off if used incorrectly. Today Dave Winer is tracking a weblog situation that looks like it resulted in someone getting fired. Looks like the dynamite was used incorrectly there.

Dare Obasanjo: "Since I used to hang out on Slashdot a lot I usually got the "Microsoft is a greedy, evil company that is trying to rule the software world" perspective. Working in B0rg Cube I've found out that in many cases there is significant customer demand for the actions Microsoft takes that its competitors rail against."

Yesterday I showed yet another team at Microsoft what weblogging is all about.

They did not believe that I'm now watching 618 websites every day. They couldn't understand how I do it. When I proved to them that I was, indeed, watching that many sites, their eyes popped out.

And, I'm adding more. I visit once a week or so looking for cool new weblogs that the rest of you don't know about. (That's how Dave Winer discovered me, by the way).

Last night I actually measured how much time it took to read 618 weblogs and websites: 34 minutes.

Whoa. That's freaking amazing, right? It's all due to RSS and my news aggregator (I use NewsGator inside Outlook).

I showed the team yesterday why it's possible to read so many websites so quickly.

Now, let's try an experiment. Go off to a random new weblog in your browser. I visited Paul Glenn's weblog over on Live Journal (I just clicked on his link in It took 31 seconds to come up in my browser. I'm on a high-speed cable line. Your experience may vary.

Now, let's go over to Outlook. Inside Outlook, I have an "RSS Feeds" folder. Inside that folder are 618 other folders (with sites from lots of you). Each folder comes up instantly the minute I click on it. No waiting to read. In 31 seconds, I can scan through about five to 10 folders (er, RSS feeds), each with a few updated items in there.

But, here's the real secret why RSS works. Not everyone updates their weblog every day. So, out of 618 weblogs, only 100 are "bold." (Outlook shows folders that have new items as "bold").

If I find something interesting, I might read it in detail right then, but usually I just drag it over to my "blog this" folder to read later. I find that it's easier to be in a "skimming mode" for the first hour of my browsing, and then I'll read in depth and decide whether or not to blog about it later on when I am doing my "blogging time."

Your workflow may vary.

The other thing is, after doing this you get a lot faster at skimming for the good stuff. I look for key words in posts. You know, anything technology related. If I see a title like this: "my cat is so cute" I don't even open it. I know from past experience that the likelihood that that post is gonna be interesting is extremely low.

Now, think about this in a corporate environment. How much time are your employees wasting waiting for websites to come up in a browser? How much time are you wasting? And, do you visit 618 sites every day to watch what your industry is saying about you?

And people yell at me when I ask "can this industry get beyond the browser please?"

If you are surfing with your browser you all are wasting so much time it isn't even funny. Get into the RSS news aggregator revolution. Yesterday another team at Microsoft did. Will you get it in time?

Dave Winer talks about Clay Shirky's "power-law-rap." I think it's laughable. All you have to do to get traffic is:

Be interesting.


Join a community that has traffic (Longhorn blogs, for instance, in its first week, without putting up any real content, had about 7000 pageviews per day).


Tell me about your blog -- only if you think it'd be interesting to your readers.


Name your blog something interesting so that when I go to and am looking for new tech blogs, I can find it among the "LiveJournal" or "poorly named blogs" there. Hey, I just went over there and learned Jeff Pulver has a blog now (on VoIP).

If you really want traffic, that's an easy thing to solve nowadays. Back when I started weblogging getting traffic was much much harder.

You know, one thing I noticed about Microsoft is that they expect you to do stuff and they give you a great deal of latitude and power to boot. For instance, I now am one of a very small number of people who have the ability to change the "Commnet site" for the PDC attendees. I've only worked at Microsoft for five months. How many companies do you know that let a junior employee come in and mess with a site that probably hundreds of thousands of people will check out over the next few weeks? I had that power at UserLand, but other companies I've worked at wouldn't DREAM of letting me near their publishing systems.

Interesting thing about being handed power. You tend to redouble your efforts to do an excellent job. I appreciate the amount of trust that my coworkers put in me to do the right thing.

Oh, and don't take my message here the wrong way. They are watching. The entire world is watching. If I put up a typo or some incorrect information, you bet I'd get yelled at. But, how is that different from my weblog?

In fact, now you understand the role the weblog plays at work. My weblog demonstrates to people that I'm trustworthy. That I'm not gonna go out and do something stupid.

This is one of the real powers of weblogging in the work world. Write every day for four years and people will see what your strengths and weaknesses are and they'll start giving you responsibilities that match those.

Your weblog is your brand (read: reputation) in the work world.

Raghavendra Prabhu: "I definitely think blogs have had a pretty substantial impact on the flow of information about new and existing Microsoft products."

Microsoft Monitor weblog: music matters.

There's a new .NET Weblog aggregator. I still like .NET Weblogs better.

Scott Loftesness loves the new iTunes for Windows. Kevin Marks tells me that it has Rendevous built in too. I gotta try that this weekend.

Tim Bray talks about rich clients again (points at Jon Udell's piece on GUI/browser tension) and makes a case for us to ship an updated IE before Longhorn.

By the way, every time I see "rich client" my mind translates that to "Windows application." Do you do that too?

And what's wrong with Mozilla? It works on Longhorn. But, seriously, the world of Internet connected applications is so much larger than just a browser. Heck, look at what Apple released this week. Is that a browser app?

Also, lets assume that we gave Tim what he wanted: a new browser that's perfect. Guess what, only the geeks would use it. How do I know that? Past behavior of customers. There are still tons of customers who are using IE4.

So, the advantage of having a standards-based browser wouldn't arrive, even if a new browser shipped tonight (which it won't). What's the advantage? Why it costs more to develop a website if there are many browsers out there that web developers need to target. Web standards are supposed to make it possible to develop a site once and target all browsers (that would, in theory, reduce costs because developers wouldn't need to test on multiple browsers and platforms). In reality that nirvana won't arrive. Why? Because of the installed base. When you explain to me how to get people to move from the inferior IE 4 and 5 to the superior IE6, then I'll believe you have a case.

Personally, I'd rather see us do something really compelling and really push the platform forward so that mom and dad see a reason to upgrade their entire computer (cause we sure can't get them to upgrade just their browser, especially when they can't see much of a change -- tell your mom that she needs to get Mozilla because it's "standards compliant" and see the stares you get).

Dare Obasanjo: "The blogerati need to accept the fact that their medium of communication is also the favored way for teenage girls to carry on in the grand tradition of "Dear Diary."

Bill Gates in MSNBC: "Jealousy has driven more mistakes by my competitors than anything else—when people focus not on the next breakthrough, but on cutting off Microsoft. It’s actually been quite a windfall for us."

You know, at the PDC you'll hear a lot from folks with names like Box, Brumme, Anderson, Gates, and Allchin. But, for me, the PDC wouldn't have happened without dozens of admins, techies, and other people working behind the scenes. One such person is Sarah Jamieson. She's pulled my behind out of a sling so many times it isn't funny. She's simply the best "get it done" person I've ever worked with. All the bloggers who are getting t-shirts sent to them have her and Jeff Sandquist to thank.

Sam Gentile noticed there's a build your own PDC feature on the MyMSEvents site.

Bink says Microsoft is forcing its employees to use its Smartphones. That's laughable. Why? Do you realize how many employees WANT Smartphones and can't get them? No forcing needed. I want one in the worst way.

Michael Gartenberg, Jupiter analyst, chimes in on John Markoff's comments: "It’s funny watching people say things who should know better."

Ernie the Attorney is blogging the Pop!Tech shindig. I bet Ernie and Buzz are eating a lobster right now. Makes me wish I was back there.

Ed Kaim said this video preview of a new XBox hockey game is really awesome. I totally agree. Wow. It's amazing how visually rich video games are getting. I remember the good old days of PacMan and Breakout.

Larry O'Brien is starting InkPositive: a website for Tablet PC users. But, look at his tease for the upcoming site. It's one of the more compelling "under construction" messages I've seen.

I just learned about another SQL Server weblog community: SQL Team weblogs. Running on Scott Watermasysk's .TEXT. By the way, the SQL Team website has tons of info on SQL Server.

Dang, Seattle blogger Anita Rowland is in the hospital, details on her blog. Our wishes are with you Anita.

InfoWorld: "Longhorn hinges on security -- Forthcoming operating system, database, and tools need to be less fragile than predecessors."

Salon's Scott Rosenberg: "But like so many other Web phenomena, blogging may prove significant despite a failure to prove itself as a business."

Well, I owe my job, at least in part, to weblogging. Is that a business failure? Not in my book.

But, I think eventally there will be a compelling business around weblogging. Today there isn't. Let me ask you a question, if you saw Steve Wozniak's Apple I computer, would you have said "oh, there's a trillion dollar business?" I didn't think so.

InternetNews: A better Longhorn through blogging.

"The sheer number of employee blogs is enough to make any company watcher sit up and take note, analysts say. But add to the trend the fact that Microsoft is about to hand over to PDC attendees early builds of not just one but three of its major products, and they say what you have is a culture shift of more openness at Microsoft."