I'm outta here. I promised my wife I'd spend all day with her tomorrow and not get on the computer. Speaking of which, she hates the red color in my new banner. Translation: it ain't gonna last long. But, what color would look best?
I mentioned it earlier, but if you can't get enough of me, check out the interview of me by Andy Beal about my opinions of search engine technology.
The next few weeks are going to be fun.
This week starts off with a visit to Microsoft by Dave Winer. He'll be speaking on campus to MS Research on Monday at 3 p.m. and speaking again at 7 p.m. at the .NET Developer's Association meeting. (Free pizza at the meeting, if you get there around 6:15 p.m. -- everyone is invited -- hence this week's "Geek Dinner Alert"). The evening meeting will also have Robert Green of the Visual Basic team speaking, and then I'll join Dave in a discussion of RSS and weblogging (and there might be some suprise guests too).
Then I'm off to go to O'Reilly's Emerging Technology conference. (I'd love to meet up with you).
The week after that I will be speaking at Demo as part of a panel discussion on blogging. John Patrick is running the panel, which will feature Mena Trott (you all know her, right), Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, Greg Reinacker (guy who wrote my favorite news aggregator -- NewsGator), and me. John wrote up some notes on what the panel will cover. I'm sure someone will blog it. There's lots of blog announcements to be made at both conferences.
If you'll be there, come by and say hi!
Rob Zelt: "I think that Robert by far has a better understanding and relationship the the users of MS products. He is easily one of the most approachable faces Microsoft has ever seen."
Wow, if you keep that up you're gonna make me cry! I say that as I copy that to my folder of things to show my boss at review time. ;-)
Thanks. It's certainly an interesting ride we're all on together. Flattery like that will certainly get you to the top of my "favorite developer" list. :-)
Jesse Ezell does some analysis of the amount of times I post something Longhorn related. I posted the most, but only 8% of my content is about Longhorn. I'd actually expect that to drop over the next few months. Why? Because I'm going to work on evangelizing .NET and Windows XP for a while. Michael Gartenberg and other people complaining we're overhyping something that won't be out for years are right.
Windows XP and .NET are vitally important and will be for years. It's easy to get carried away by Longhorn. It is cool, but it ain't coming soon, so you'll see me dial back a bit. Maybe 4% will be OK?
I wonder, will this count as a Longhorn post?
Thanks to Andrew for filling in while I was gone (he took my design and style for the week)! Next time I leave for a while I might just have some guest blogs. You did a great job.
Oh, forgot to say thanks to DL Bryon. I talked with him a few days ago about blogging in business. He's giving a talk at SXSW on that topic and we compared notes since I'm speaking on that topic at Demo. Here's a relevant quote from his latest blog: "Weíre on another media convergence of the old and new and Iím not sure where itís going, but itís definitely more than just people loving their pets, shilling product, politics, instant pundits, or wardrobe malfunctions." Absolutely!
Lots of interesting in business blogs lately (Fast Company and Business 2.0 have both written about the trend and the K-Log mailing list is covering the topic well). I'm sure that'll be the next thing to get overhyped. But, where there's hype there's sometimes something useful. We'll discover it together.
Heh, here's a fun "Table of condiments." Shows how long various condiments will last. Sorta like a periodic table.
How to get your weblog more exposure: RSSTop55. Very useful listing of best blog directory and RSS submission sites.
Actually up to 59 sites now, including my favorite http://feeds.scripting.com.
Here's a look at Microsoft's kitchen of the future. I got a tour of this a while back. There's something that bugged me about the home, though. I just didn't think it was realistic.
Why? Because of cost.
I think that's why a lot of predictions of the future fall short, or get way off. (Remember the flying car predictions broadcast on TV in the 1950s?).
I still can't figure out what bugged me about the home, though. Anyone else have a tour that can give us some insights?
While we're talking about MVPs, I see that Roy Osherove says that MVPs get access to information that common folks don't have access to and he says that's unfair.
First of all, yes, the MVPs have better access to some things. They get invited onto campus once a year. They have private newsgroups. They have private chats.
But, in five years of being an MVP did I ever learn something that wasn't quickly disclosed to the rest of you? No.
MVPs and other influential programs help customers far more than they help. Why? Think about it. If everyone on the Web wanted to have a discussion with me about a topic, could I deal with that? No. But, if I have a small group of people who I send information to, I can scale a lot more. In fact, that's exactly why I like weblogs. 1000 people can read me. If they find something of interest here, they can pass it on.
2) It rewards helpful behavior. Are people more likely to help each other or less likely to help each other because of the MVP program? I found I was far more likely to answer questions in newsgroups and post Websites and weblogs than if there were no such program. Simple human fact. Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.
3) It gives Microsoft a way to hear about what people hate in a very scalable way. Every year I went to the MVP summit I took a list of the top 100 most requested things that I saw in the newsgroups and personally handed that to the team. They were able to go through it with me and explain their point of view. I was able to take that back to my newsgroup. Obviously Microsoft can't pay for hundreds of thousands of people to come to Redmond (and can't deal with them either, even this year's MVP summit is bigger than our biggest conference rooms).
4) It lets real customers sit down and talk with the product teams. The product teams can deal with 50 or 100 customers and get good feedback (at last year's MVP summit, before I was an employee, I, and about 100 others, got to see some prototypes of Longhorn, and got to give my feedback. Will that help the product? I think so.
Roy, I wouldn't worry about it too much. The reality is that we're not in the business of keeping secrets forever. We want you to use our products and technologies. Generally that means we want you to know how to use them to the best of your abilities.
You can learn a lot more "insider stuff" by reading http://blogs.msdn.com than by coming into the MVP private newsgroups, by the way. Are blogs unfair? Hmmm. :-)
Are you going to the Microsoft Mobile Developer's Conference? If so, there's an event blog about that that's opened up (similar to the PDC Blogger site).
Plus there's a flair for your blog. Rob Robinson has it on his.
Microsoft MVPs are people who've gotten rewarded for being noticed supporting Microsoft's customers online. Used to be only newsgroups, but I've seen a ton of webloggers get added recently (reflects the fact that hundreds of Microsoft employees are reading and writing weblogs). The program has greatly expanded recently (when I was awarded MVP status there were only a couple of hundred MVPs, today there's 2500).
By the way, MVPs are going to be in Redmond the first week of April. That's going to be a lot of fun. 1900 of our most passionate customers all in one room. Steve Ballmer, among other execs, will speak to them.
Someone else asked "how do you get to be an MVP?" Easy. Get noticed by a Microsoft employee. I'm looking for new people to promote to MVP status. If you're a weblogger, it's easy for me to subscribe to you and watch what you do.
Somehow I think Casey will be an MVP for a while.
Dwight Shih's rant on "why upgrade to Longhorn" theorizes that people won't upgrade to Longhorn because .NET will enable good enough apps on Windows XP. That's partially true. If all Microsoft was doing was including the .NET runtimes in Longhorn, you're right, no one will move. But, there are thousands of other things that Longhorn will do better too. Microsoft hasn't even started discussing those. Plus, there's thousands of new managed APIs (Avalon, er WinFX) that will be Longhorn only (see my rant below). Maybe we didn't make that point clearly enough.
The point that does stick (that both Dwight and Michael Gartenberg make) is that Windows XP evangelism hasn't gotten people to move. I think you're both looking at the wrong place for an explanation of that. Here's my theory: WinXP doesn't look different enough. When "regular users" went into Best Buy and saw XP, they said "looks like old Windows, yawn."
That will NOT be the case with Longhorn.
David Hill has an insightful article on "what are Smart Clients?" Useful in the context of my Longhorn rant below.
While I was off, I notice a bunch of people are trying to be human aggregators:
Sam Gentile. New and notable 36.
Ashutosh Nilkanth's Signal to Noise #9
Mike Gunderloy's The Daily Grind 293.
James Avery's .NET Nightly 100.
Erik Thauvin's "The truth is out there" (wow, what a lot of links).
The problem is, all five of these guys are VERY UNFRIENDLY to RSS News Aggregators. Why? Because if I see something cool in them and I want to email them to my coworkers (or repost it on my own blog) I need to split it out. I wish these guys would post each item individually to a blog. If each item came into NewsGator separately and had its own permalink these pages would be FAR more useful to all of us.
UPDATE: Mike wrote me back in my comment here and said his format works better for him. I expect that's cause he's reading in the Web browser, and not trying to read them in NewsGator (and if he is using an RSS News Aggregator, he's not trying to send items around via email). I agree, though, that there's room for both of us.
DateLens is a cool app for those of us who use PDAs to keep track of our schedules.
Another of my VBITS speakers (I used to help plan the VBITS/VSLive series of conferences), Rocky Lhotka, is blogging.
First of all, Longhorn isn't going to get here anytime soon. That needs to be said over and over again.
Second of all, he totally misinterprets what Microsoft's trying to do with Longhorn. He assumes Longhorn technologies are going to be used instead of Web technologies.
There is absolutely no way that will happen. To think Microsoft is trying to do that is to TOTALLY miss the point of Longhorn.
Longhorn is all about opening up the potential for new kinds of Windows applications to be built (and reducing the cost of developing existing style Windows apps). Emphasis on Windows.
There will always be room for applications to be built for just one platform. Why? Look at Flight Simulator. Do you EVER think something like Flight Simulator could be built for cross-platform, Internet usage? I don't see it. It's too big to transport for even broadband users. (Or, look at some of the apps Apple is building for the Macintosh platform -- many of those will never be ported to Windows either -- the cost vs. the return on investment is simply too high).
Go back and look at Joel Spolsky's arguments about why he won't use .NET: he's concerned about a 25MB runtime. Flight Simulator is HUNDREDS of megabytes.
Second, Flight Simulator needs a ton of technologies that only exist on Windows. DirectX. Etc. To build a version of Flight Simulator that'd run on Linux, Macs, and Windows, would mean building a DirectX platform for both of those (or, better yet, rewriting Flight Simulator to run directly on those platforms). That's not likely to happen. Why not? Flight Simulator doesn't sell enough copies to make that worth the effort.
So, instead of looking at Avalon, er WinFX, and XAML as something that'll compete with browser-based things, let's rather look at the world as "rich" vs. "reach."
There will always be a "reach" world. You know, one that works on Linux, Solaris, Macintosh, and all the versions of Windows (you'll note that not everyone on the Windows side of the fence automatically upgrades to the latest OS, no matter how compelling we make it). The Web today (and I theorize tomorrow too) is "reach."
The confusion comes because Longhorn apps can run inside the browser Window. Imagine Flight Simulator playing inside of the browser Window instead of taking over the entire screen. Does that mean that Flight Simulator is all of a sudden a "Web" or a "reach" application? Of course not.
If you're eBay or Amazon, you'll always need to do a reach solution (translation: something that'll work on Web browsers on all OS's). XAML and WinFX won't change that (no matter how good us Longhorn evangelists do our jobs or how much hype Microsoft stirs up). At least not for a LONG LONG time. The probabilities are high that I'll be dead long before XAML and WinFX will be used for a reach solution.
But, let's say you have a project where you need to turn up the "richness" knob a bit. Today you might consider using Flash on the front end. Or, DHTML. Or, Java. All of those technologies reduce your "reach" a bit. Not every browser in the world can use these technologies. For instance, today you see very few sites that do only a site in Flash. Why not? Because that's a "rich" technology today, and not one with maximum "reach." (Another way of looking at it is Google only looks at HTML, not inside Flash movies or Java applets).
But, even with these technologies, the "richness" isn't good enough for some applications (Amazon and Adobe and Merck were on stage with us at the PDC showing off some potential new applications that are impossible in today's "rich" world). Plus, tomorrow's systems will have new capabilities that today's systems simply don't have. Why do I say that?
Cause I've been inside Microsoft's Research labs (just last Friday Kevin Schofield gave me an amazing tour). I've seen what they are thinking of doing with 3D hardware like that from ATI and nVidia. I've seen what they are thinking of doing for multiple and large-screen monitors. I've seen what they are thinking of doing for hard drives that are terrabytes in size. I've seen what they are thinking of doing for screens you can write on and computers that you can talk to.
That new world is rushing at us and the hardware to enable new scenarios might be here before we can get Longhorn out the door (translation next two or more years).
WinFX and XAML and future versions of .NET will enable a whole new kind of application. One that simply isn't possible today.
Now, can you deliver a new app that requires a new OS and a new API set down to other OS's? I have looked at it, and I don't think so. Imagine trying to deliver something like Flight Simultor into HTML. What use would that be?
And, try to imagine delivering the current version of Flight Simulator back in 1995. Couldn't be done. The hardware and software capabilities keep advancing. The 2010 version of Flight Simulator will be far more advanced than the one that can be delivered today. Could Flash or Java be used for Flight Simulator (even four years from now)? Certainly not that I can see. But with Longhorn it will be possible to build new kinds of apps that get close to today's Flight Simulator with far less effort than the Flight Simulator team had to go through to get where they are.
Translation? Longhorn won't make people or companies give up the Web, any more than Flight Simulator does.
So, how should you look at Longhorn? It extends the way .NET gives developers a more productive and more elegant development system. Look at Charles Torre's post. He's a coworker of mine who loves working in .NET (employees at Microsoft call this "managed code") instead of Win32. He compares managed code with old "C" style Win32 commands. Even I can see that it's easier to understand and write managed code and I'm not even a programmer.
One last point. Am I saying that only games will be written in Longhorn? Of course not. Carter Maslan just released a video of a potential health care application and a real estate application done on Longhorn technologies. And he's working with the PDC builds of Longhorn -- there's still a lot more to come as the Longhorn team reacts to what they learned from attendees at the PDC.
One thing I read in eWeek that several bloggers have already commented on, is Jim Louderback's rant about NewsGator and how it could create a walled-off garden. Jim, that's the wackiest thing I've seen in eWeek in a long time.
In the "old world" of publishing, though, eWeek would be able to publish stuff like this and have it stick. In the new world, not only can third-party observers like Dave Winer have their say, but the author of the tool himself, Greg Reinacker, can have his say too. So, now we can have a real conversation (and we can make up our own minds). That's a HUGE change.
Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupiter Media, asks "Have you noticed how painfully thin the few remaining weekly tech magazines are these days?"
Why yes! I haven't read one of those magazines in paper form in more than a year. Why is that? The blogosphere tells me what's important to pay attention to in a far better format.
In fact, I read Jon Udell at InfoWorld and Steve Gillmor at eWeek everytime they post. In my news aggregator.
I was over at John Dowell's blog (he works at Macromedia) and he points to a comparison of FrontPage vs. Dreamweaver that Cheryl Wise did.
The FrontPage team was also embarrassed by an advertisement that got wide play on the blogs and mailing lists yesterday.
On the other hand, due to that ad (which contained a bad HTML tag) FrontPage has gotten more discussion on the blogosphere than it has in the past six months. Is there such a thing as bad publicity?
It also proves that some people do look at advertising. But, what a horrible mistake to make. Completely invalidates the point of the ad. Ouch. (By the way, I'd like to know how they made such a mistake. I've used FrontPage since 1996 and I haven't seen it ever mess up THAT way). In fact, there's two mistakes. One that FrontPage's spell checker would have caught. So, this ad was hand coded. I hate it when marketers don't even use the product they are trying to sell.
Sean Alexander has an interesting followup to my iPod vs. Windows Media posts. He was, until just recently, a program manager on the Windows Digital Media team. "That's what choice looks like to me. What's your choice?"
While taking a blog vacation, Andy Beal of Search Engine Guide interviewed me about what I thought the future of search would look like.
In the interview I talk about why Longhorn's WinFS will be important and also why it could radically change our approach to social software.
In the past week I've been playing with Orkut, Google's foray into social software. This is nothing new.
In 1996 I filled out almost the exact same information for ICQ. This is what I hate about social software. They don't work together.
Why shouldn't Orkut go and update my ICQ information? (Look at my ICQ page, it's woefully out of date, says I still work for UserLand).
In fact, I've filled this info out now multiple times.
In IE's wallet.
And I'm sure I'm forgetting at least four other services that I've used over the years.
Do we need to wait for Longhorn to come out to build software that'll share contact info with each other? Even after Longhorn comes out, software developers will still need to stop trying to lock people into their services.
Heck, social software really won't take off until we figure this out.
One thing I like about Orkut, though. I now have great photos of all my friends. Out of the 114 friends I have in Orkut, less than five don't have photos.
Too bad that Orkut isn't a Web service. I'd love to use Orkut as my photo blog roll.
One other thing I hate about Orkut? I haven't told it anyone isn't my friend. Why not? Cause that's rude. I agree with Doc Searls. I wish there'd be a way to tell Orkut "I know this person." Then later I could tell it whether or not that person is a friend, or an acquaintance, or a business partner, etc.
I have an idea: why not make Orkut so that it could export my friend's list as an RSS feed? Or, an OPML file?
Here's an even more radical idea. Why doesn't Google and Microsoft sit down at a table. Yes, I know, we're supposed to be bitter enemies. Let's get over that. Let's sit down. Have a few beers. And come up with social software that can share contacts with each other. Let's announce it in a joint press conference. Let's get over our own lock-in strategies. Let's work together on social software so that our customers can go back and forth between our systems.
Can we do that? I'd love to help if possible. I know the social software folks at Microsoft. They are listening to me. How about Google?
What do you think? Should we sit down and have some beers and see if we can work together to make the social software thing better? Or, are our customers going to be locked in 1996 forever?
In my week off I realized I'm ashamed to be an American. Why is it not OK for Janet Jackson to show her boob on national TV, but it's OK for our military to show live killing of Iraqi military on TV?
Our society is screwed up.
By the way, I want some compensation. I hurt my thumb on my Tivo remote control's rewind button. Heh. I wish my Tivo had a zoom control. :-)
Speaking of which, why is it OK for General Motors to make hundreds of millions of dollars off of pornography (do you realize who owns the satellites that deliver most adult videos) but it's not OK for Janet Jackson to show her boob?
Why is it OK for two out of every 10 entertainment dollars to be spent on adult entertainment in this country, but it's not OK for Janet to show her boob in a wide shot that was only on TV for a second? (Even after multiple rewinds on my 32-inch TV, I couldn't really tell if Janet had actually revealed her boob -- if it weren't for all the Internet sites like Drudge that showed high resolution pictures the next day, I still would be guessing).
Oh, I notice that DirectTV is now delivering high-definition adult videos (and started right after the Super Bowl).
Our society is so messed up. It's OK to show our kids hundreds of murders per year on TV, but it's not OK for them to see a part of the human body.
I'm ashamed to be an American this week.
UPDATE: Why is it OK for our kids to watch junk food advertising (obesity is one of the leading health problems among American kids today) but not see a boob on TV?
Why is it OK for our kids to watch beer commercials on TV (alcohol abuse and drunk driving is one of the leading health problems for teenagers today) but not see a boob on TV?
Why is it OK for our kids to watch a game where adults are allowed to brutalize one another, but it's not OK to see a boob on TV?
Yeah, my commenter's are right. Kids shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a TV set while a football game is on TV. The halftime show isn't even close to the leading reasons why.
Harvey Kirkpatrick says "I not ashamed that I am daily Scobleized."
Paul Andrews (writes for the Seattle Times): "Scoble's a great guy, but as his e-mail reflects, he may be developing into too much a partisan."
Yup, I'm going to try to act less like a Microsoft executive and more like an independent voice again. It'll be tough, but that's how I'll add more value to this.
Loren Heiny: "Scoble may be on a blogging hiatus, but I can't stop myself from manually checking his blog to see if he's posted something new that my RSS reader has missed or scouring his comments to see if he's covertly blogging within them."
Thanks Loren, I got quite a few nice emails in the past. It's nice to know that I've built up such a nice group of readers.
Seattle PI's weblog: "Will Scoble really make it a full week without posting? Will Microsoft survive in his absence from the blogosphere?"
I made it eight days. I learned at Fawcette that the company will survive no matter what I do. The question is "will Scoble survive without a blog?"
I'm seeing a bit of RSS mania here too. I'm getting lots of calls to talk about blogging or RSS since people heard the story that I'm now reading 1278 RSS feeds every day.
I'm not alone. There are now five people reading more than 1000 feeds. Maybe we should start a "RSS 1k" club. I wonder if we get points the way you do if you fly a lot.
Anyway, some things I notice about reading in RSS.
1) Lots of people are linking to other sites, but very few really write a ton of content.
2) There are some people who post only a few times a year. Chris Brumme, for instance, is one of the most popular .NET bloggers (he's a high-level architect who writes thousands of words per post). By using an RSS news aggregator I don't care how much Chris posts. When he posts, his folder turns bold and I read him. Well, in his case I don't understand a whole bunch of what he writes, so I read it, and look up what he's talking about, and read some more. His posts are way off the chart for actual content per post. This week Hillel Cooperman also posted (he's been busy managing the team of people designing the next version of Windows). Thus avoiding the "Eric Rudder Blog Club." You know, the club of people who post twice and then don't post again.
Speaking of Eric, Niall Kennedy asked him recently why he doesn't blog "Eric responded that he has too many other things to do that would benefit the community more than a blog entry."
Niall also made some observations about Eric's speech that show his opinion of Microsoft went down after talking with Eric. Partly cause Eric wasn't good at evangelizing the overall Microsoft platform.
Oh, I have some to say on that. Eric is a developer at heart. He came out of the FoxPro and Visual Studio groups. That's where his heart lies.
Keeping up on everything Microsoft is doing is a full time job (and you need to watch a lot more than 1200 RSS feeds to do that job too). Plus, tons of people around the blogosphere have asked us not to be pushing our future tech so much and concentrate on our currently-shipping stuff.
Can't win no matter what we do.
Speaking of which, I've been given a tour of Microsoft Research. I'm not too worried about our future. Lots of cool stuff stacked up over there for years to come.
And, there's lots of work being done here on Social Software. We'll talk more soon -- I've already learned that if the execs aren't talking about it, it probably isn't a good idea to break news on the blog. ;-).
Now, what to write?
First, it's good to take a week off. I spent a lot of time looking at the blogosphere and listening and learning.
I did a bit of soul searching. Looking at what value I can add here and how much I can do.
First, I can't be the geek aggregator anymore. It was killing me. Too much posting and too little saying anything. So, I'll be more selective in what I post here and what I say.
Second, I don't know if you noticed, but http://blogs.msdn.com has gotten some excellent bloggers in the past few weeks. For those who don't know, that's where Microsoft employees are now being given free blog space. So, you'll see more and more Microsoft employees there.
Brings me to aggregation. I couldn't keep up with that page anyway. There's more than 260 Microsoft bloggers on that page alone (and that doesn't count guys like me or John Porcaro who post on non-Microsoft-owned properties).
So, I'll change, but I'm not quite sure yet how I'll change. But life is boring if you live today the same way you lived yesterday.
One final thing. Dave Winer says I deserve a medal for blogging. No, I don't. Here's why:
I'm totally in control on my blog. If I get fired, it'll be my fault. No one else to blame.
So, who should get the medal? The execs who allow this grand experiment to continue. Why? Cause that really is scary. They allowed other people who they don't really control to put their opinions up for everyone to see. Vic Gundotra in my case, but I keep hearing that the blogging experiment was discussed with a bunch of execs. I know of a couple who were (and remain) skeptical. They are still worried we'll do something to hurt their careers. But, even the naysayers are brave. They let it go on.
So, to those who let the blog experiment continue at Microsoft, my "medal" is for you.
Oh, and you might have noticed that I have a new banner. That's a photo my wife took on our honeymoon. It's of a tree in the high Sierras. Here's a better look at the tree. But it's not just any tree. That tree is a metaphor for standing up against all odds. That tree looks down at Donner Lake. Ever hear of the Donner party? Yeah, that tree has seen snows that completely cover it up. And, just a few feet to the right of that tree is the transcontinental railroad.