Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Friday, October 31, 2003

Well, it's been quite a week. Gotta check out of my hotel. Gonna take the weekend off and spend some time with my wife and my son. See ya next week.

Peter Rysavy: "Some of the greatest tablet applications are coming from small developers, who don't have a lot of money to fund their projects, and an army of lawyers to protect their ideas. Redmond really needs to give them a chance, support their work, and even promote their applications."

Peter: you're absolutely right. I'm interested in finding out a way to do just that. I'd love to hear your ideas on how to make small ISVs comfortable with doing business with us. Is it getting you legal help? Funding? Is it building relationships within our teams so you feel more comfortable about why and how we patent our technologies? I'm very interested in solving this problem long-term so that we both win.

Taking care of developers is my #1 job. If you all run off and develop for another platform because we made it too difficult to deal with us, we lose. Simple business 101 stuff.

Hillel Cooperman has a blog. He's the guy who heads the team that's building the new user experience (translation: the user interface) for Longhorn (he was one of the most important keynote speakers, along with Gates and Allchin). I see that I need to evangelize RSS to Hillel though. If I can't subscribe to an RSS feed it greatly slows down my ability to watch your blogs.

Stats for the past four days of 61,713 unique sessions, and 480,262 hits.


That's now Slashdot neighborhood numbers.

Sometimes I long for those days ... just months ago when I only had 18 readers.

Several commenters in the "How to Hate Microsoft" piece asked for a more "Unix-like Shell." Several employees wrote me and said "tell them about Monad." So, I'll send you over to Slashdot for news about Monad. The people over in Slashdot are always fun to read.

For corporate weblogging's best practices, go back and read my "Corporate Weblogger's Manifesto."

I wrote that right after I knew I got the job at Microsoft. It's a good list of best practices. I try to live up to that list every day.

Some things I'd add to the list:

1) If you're a weblogger who doesn't want to get quoted in the press, don't write in a quotable style. Don't be sensationalistic (don't write articles, for instance, that tell people how to hate Microsoft). Don't write about conflict (that's what'll get you quoted). Instead, do what Chris Brumme does. Give us tips and tricks. Talk about how you're using technology.

2) If you don't want to put your career at risk: don't ever give away company secrets. Assume that everything is a company secret until you see the PR team put it out there. If you see a press release about it, or you see it discussed on stage at an industry event, then you can write about it.

3) Stay away from topics that have conflict. For instance, if I were a smart weblogger, I wouldn't write about anything that could cause an argument between a Linux advocate and a Longhorn advocate, for instance. Why? Because journalists love conflict and they are getting better and better at finding comments.

4) Always write like you are speaking on behalf of your company. Why? Because despite the disclaimers, you really are. That's scary if you think about it. I'm speaking on behalf of 55,000 people and a multi-billion-dollar, international corporation. My words have the potential of moving and changing markets. If you are uncomfortable about that, then do what my boss does, and write about something that isn't easily tied to our company's products (he keeps a site on how to mix a great cocktail).

I will think more about this and continue the conversation.

OK, co-workers inside Microsoft are pushing me to write some blogging guidelines so they will know how to avoid getting fired (yeah, I know that a contract employee of one of our vendors was fired this week -- how could I avoid it? MSNBC and the Seattle PI asked me for an interview and attendees in the hall at the PDC were constantly asking me about it -- now employees and other people are IM'ing me and asking about it -- I turned down the interviews, by the way, cause I really didn't have a chance to stop and learn about the issue while at the PDC and I still don't know all the facts).

I've been asked to avoid discussing the firing on my blog because it's a personel issue and because it's Microsoft policy not to discuss those issues in public.

I will say that I've learned over and over in my career that whenever someone gets fired, you rarely know the whole story. It's good for us to keep that in mind in this case.

The problem is, how do you write those guidelines?

I can only speak for myself.

If you're a skier, How do you make rules for skiing through the trees? I don't know how. Anyone who wants rules for skiing through the trees really shouldn't try it.

I go back to my own personal guidelines. I always think about how I'm going to justify what I'm talking about to 1) My wife (she'll be the first to have to explain it to if I get in trouble). 2) My boss. 3) Steve Ballmer (metaphor for executives). 4) My co-workers. 5) My readers.

Every time I post, I think about these five groups/people. Everytime I post, I think about Microsoft's strategy, its legal exposure, its place in the marketplace.

I'll be honest. My speech has gotten chilled since I joined Microsoft. Why? Because everything I do is amplified. I used to attack industry figures (go back and look at what I wrote about Scott McNealy or Alan Meckler). Today I can't do that. Why? Because it would come off as Microsoft attacking, not Scoble attacking.

I used to tell Bill Gates how to run the company (I still think I'm one of the only people who has publicly told him to split up the company). I don't do that anymore either. Why? Because it would be taken out of context and I'd be looked at as an unhappy employee, which I'm not.

So, how do you make some rules? Especially when, let's be honest, the rules for Vice Presidents, or Don Box, are different from the rules for Robert Scoble?

Corporate weblogging is not easy. I'm not going to sugar-coat it and make it seem like it is. On the other hand, if you follow a few best practices, you'll do just fine. Let me talk about those in the next post.

Carl Prothman gives some positive and negative feedback about the PDC and PDCBloggers.

I made it pretty clear that all PDCs are about the future, not about the present. Sounds like TechED is a better show for Carl to go to.

As for the PDC Bloggers. They were just overwhelmed. Their system requires moderation so that there is a minimum of noise added to the page (compare PDC Bloggers, for instance, to the .NET Weblogs -- the PDC Blogger page is much more useful). That's not censorship, it's just that a human can only do so much work per hour, particularly if you're also trying to go to sessions, go to parties, and participate in the event.

These guys did an amazing job. I have all of your feeds saved and will try to go back and look at the "best blogging of PDC" and see if there's something we can learn about it.

I wish there were two feeds. One unmoderated, and one moderated so you can come in and get the highlights.

Jeff and I were Kevin and Drew's only Microsoft contact and they never asked us "is it OK to put these things up?" They worked totally on their own and without any financial compensation. They have my utmost respect and appreciation. That said, if you talked with Kevin and Drew they'd be the first to tell you that there's things they'd like to see improved. We'll learn and move on.

As for the networking problems. We're very sorry that the network was hard to use that first day. Believe me, we felt it ourselves. I lost two hours of work on Monday because of the network problem (one of the PDC Web pages I was working on got corrupted because the network went down while it was being saved). I don't know how we're going to get on top of that bear. We had the smartest people working on it. And put in a huge amount of networking infrastructure. But the realities are, you just can't plan for the unknown. How do you setup a university-level network in two days without having troubles here and there? How do you plan for the loads, when you've never seen network loads like this before (oh, and the only way to stress-test the network is wait for attendees to show up and start using it)? And, how do you stress-test the network without having attendees in the halls?

I was in the behind-the-scenes meetings and they had representatives from all over the industry trying to learn and trying to improve the network. It got better and better over the five days (they changed software on the routers -- software that was written during the PDC. Really amazing efforts).

We had so much network traffic at one point that they maxed out the fiber-optic backbone. It's an interesting problem. We'll be studying the problem for quite a while to learn how to build an even better network next time.

I have a lot of new friends all over the world. Ali Parvaresh, who lives in Tehran, Iran, is one of those. He did a cool site named "Second News" which is a portal of news from the Middle East.

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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; 3:16:50 AM.