Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Sunday, April 25, 2004

Miguel de Icaza, in response to Cringley: defining the game. Talks about his view of Microsoft and Longhorn.

11:33:03 PM    comment 

My wife says I'm dumb. She yelled down at me to "look up 'the fifth column' on Google. Here's the best result, from Yahoo, about how "the fifth column" was named: According to, a fifth column refers to any clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation's solidarity.

11:26:23 PM    comment 

Michael Gartenberg demonstrates what happens when you talk with edge cases. They think the world is just like them. This is why designing products is so hard. Do you design for the edge case, or the "average person?"

The thing is, I bet many people will buy hardware designed for the edge case. Why? Because it's cool.

11:19:45 PM    comment 

Jeffrey Zeldman wants to buy the world a Mac.

He also says that the world on the Windows side of the fence won't see his fonts in all of their anti-aliased glory. Hmm, well, I'm trying to get people to turn on ClearType. Once they do, their fonts look FAR FAR superior to those on a Mac.

How do I know that? My brother in law keeps shoving a Mac in my face every two weeks when I stay at his house (he works at Apple). Jeffrey, I think you need to try ClearType (and you should watch the video interviews with Bill Hill (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), over on Channel9 -- he runs the typography, er advanced reading, group here at Microsoft and has a lot to say about ClearType and fonts, since his team implemented that).

But, I know how Jeffrey feels. I wish I could buy the world a Tablet PC.

10:39:40 PM    comment 

Joel Spolsky has some fun with the Microsoft employee blogger movement. He thinks that we're spending all of our time on our blogs and that we've stopped writing any software. Hmmm. First of all, only 400 employees are blogging out of 56,000.

Second of all, most of the employee blogs I've seen only take a few minutes per day to write (and some, like Eric Rudder's, only get posted once every quarter or so). Third, much of my blog is written at night and on weekends on my own time.

By the way, Joel, what you talking about when you say kudos on "that fifth column thing?"

10:07:22 PM    comment 

Speaking of Channel9, the first two weeks saw a fun community start up. It's been fun trying to do a couple of videos everyday that get people talking.

This week we have videos of Sara Ford coming up. She's responsible for accessibility in Visual Studio (and is a tester on that team too).

I note that over on Channel9 we're getting pressure to increase the quality of the videos. I'm torn over that. Right now we're using low-end Canon digital camcorders that most people could afford and a $30 microphone.

We're using this equipment for a couple of reasons. One, the cameras are extremely small and non-intimidating. I've had several subjects mention that these interviews were a lot more fun than other video interviews. A big part of that is that the equipment doesn't look "professional." Plus I don't make subjects wear makeup, or sweat under special lights, or put weird microphones under their clothes.

The pros over at Microsoft Studios probably laugh at the quality of my video (er, lack thereof) but I like the "non slick" results I'm getting. Plus, I'm using normal equipment that almost any customer of ours could afford, if they wanted to get into video for their family. Video is a lot of fun. All you need is a $40 Firewire card, and a $400 or so digital camcorder. Windows Movie Maker and Windows Media Encoder, and away you go! And you thought only Macintoshes could do good quality streaming video.

The other reason we chose these cameras is because we're trying not to spend much of our investors', and our customers' money. Think about it. Every dime we spend comes out of someone's pocket (maybe even yours). So we spend it very carefully. Why spend $3000 on a camera when $400 will do just fine?

But, now that Channel9 is getting watched by lots of people, there's pressure to step up the quality. What do you think? Should we do it?

9:58:23 PM    comment 

Channel9 is in the business section of Seattle's PI newspaper tomorrow: "Microsoft Notebook: This just in: Channel 9 adds new way to get message out."

9:32:36 PM    comment 

Russell Beattie: Don't copy that bloggy.

Ahh, good point about Google Russ. Yeah, I am getting traffic from StarGeek too.

9:29:03 PM    comment 

John Topley: The Enemy Within.

A rant about hating Microsoft.

9:23:10 PM    comment 

The Microsoft Tablet PC Usability Team is looking for a group of Tablet PC end users, whom they could arrange to meet and interview for a nationwide usability study they will be conducting in May/June. For more information about Microsoft's Usability Research program, please visit:

Thanks to Tablet PC Talk's Chris De Herrera for pointing us to that.

9:07:08 PM    comment 

Alwin Hawkins is a nurse and decries the state of IT at the hospital he works at. He blames it on Microsoft. OK, but he doesn't give any details. Are they using the latest stuff from Microsoft, or are they using Windows 95? I can't tell, and reliability on our later stuff is much higher than it was on our 1990s software.

There's a lot of factors that go into reliability, though. We've seen it done right, and that's why the Patterns and Practices group exists: to share "best practices" in an attempt to get reliability up.

By the way, that's where Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, is working. We talked a lot about the PAG group on Friday, which is why this is fresh in my mind.

9:04:28 PM    comment 

Amanda Murphy is into Xbox Live too. A friend asked me "what took you so long?" Well, it costs $150 to buy an Xbox, and another couple of hundred or so to outfit the house so it works with Live. I didn't realize that it did voice until Jeff Sandquist showed it to me.

This is just one of the hurdles evangelists face when trying to talk you into something new.

I never really expected to find a community on a video game console, either. But in 24 hours I find my list of Xbox friends is growing rapidly. My name is: Scobleizer. Come join me.

7:40:51 PM    comment 

Someday, hopefully before I die, I'm going to attend a Jazzfest in New Orleans (and of course I'm gonna do it with Ernie the Attorney, who lives in New Orleans and knows all the best venues). Fred, a VC, covers this festival in his blog today. Great read, almost like being there.

Maryam and I love New Orleans. If you're ever there, make sure you visit Preservation Hall. Sit down up front on the wood floor and let it all soak in. I can't even describe what it's like. Sorta like church. But for jazz.

7:17:30 PM    comment 

Holy c**p. Now I understand Xbox Live. Was just audio chatting with Jeff Julian. When you get your system setup, you talk with your voice with the other players! Up to eight per game. All at the same time. All without hurting the video quality. Oh, mi gawd. This is huge.

I'm buying my son one of these. Then we can voice chat while playing games together. Even though he's in another state.

1:55:53 PM    comment 

Mark Cuban: Success and Motivation, Part II. He gets fired.

I wanna meet Mark. I too lived in a house with three other guys (in Silicon Valley), and rented a room from a janitor in one of Silicon Valley's poorest neighborhoods. His son was great, taught me how to skateboard, a skill I've long since forgotten.

I too was fired from my first job (selling ice cream at store in then new Vallco Mall -- the store doesn't exist anymore. The owner thought I was giving away ice cream to my friends. I wasn't, but taught me that perceptions matter just as much as the truth.)

1:30:01 PM    comment 

Mark Cuban (my favorite CEO blogger): Success and Motivation, Part I.

1:21:29 PM    comment 

Thinking of starting a company and going the Venture Capital route? Check out Ed Sims' blog. His words on "Founder Transition" are interesting ones to consider when building a company.

1:07:49 PM    comment 

Josh Ledgard: Scoble is a good thief.

12:58:11 PM    comment 

Buzz Bruggeman, who is CEO of ActiveWords, is also a lawyer, and he just sent me this primer on "what is fair use?"

12:40:29 PM    comment 

I've been thinking a bit about "fair use" when it comes to blogs. Common belief is that you can quote from blogs and other copyrighted works, as long as you only use 10% of the content and provide good and understandable attribution.

Now here's a question: let's say a blog has 10 posts, and I "reblog" one of them to my own blog. That's 10%, right? Is that covered under fair use?

Or, is fair use on a post-by-post basis (in other words, can I repost only 10% of any one post?)

Any lawyers out there who understand copyright law? I might call Lawrence Lessig on Monday and ask him. I need to know the law on this before I can start back up an aggregator blog.

Another way to do it? Is to email every one who does a blog and ask them for permission to reblog their content and unsubscribe from anyone who doesn't want me to reblog their content. That'd take time, though.

Another question I have? What's the legal thing to do? And is that any different from the right/ethical thing to do? For now, I can't answer these questions to my own satisfaction, so I'm not adding any content to my experimental aggregator blog.

12:26:51 PM    comment 

Do you think your political news is unbiased and fair? Really? Look at this analysis by Mark Glaser. Now, still believe that?

12:12:09 PM    comment 

Google's new GMail is already getting security audits from the blogosphere. Think your password is safe? Check out Brad Graham's analysis.

12:08:27 PM    comment 

Oh, Dave pointed us to where Micah and Britt are talking about whether bloggers are editors or journalists? Well, yes, some bloggers might be that. But blogging is bigger than that. And smaller.

The one common thing I've noticed about bloggers, whether they are writing about quilting, politics, or technology, is that they are passionate.

So are the readers. It's a passion chamber.

This is both weblogging's advantage and its disadvantage. Lately people have been asking me "how or when does weblogging and/or syndication go mainstream?"

It goes mainstream when everyone in society gets passionate about something. If someone isn't passionate about SOMETHING they won't get weblogs. Hence, the numbers of weblog authors and readers will remain small, when compared to overall society. My point is that that's OK!

On Wednesday evening I attended a weblogger Meetup. Also in the coffee place where we were meeting was a Democrat Meetup. You know, the Kerry Dean folks. They were all passionate. Far far more passionate about politics than people like me or you. It was a passion chamber.

The problem is, how many people are really passionate about politics? Is it .02% of the population? .03? It certainly isn't a very large percentage of the population. If it were a large percentage of people you'd see hundreds of millions of people involved in the campaigns at this point, and that just isn't the case.

This is why Howard Dean was so successful at raising money. The passionate ones found out about Howard and liked that he was using weblogs.

But, his message didn't translate well to the non-passionate ones. His TV ads, for instance, were rated far below those of John Kerry. It's this disconnect that even Howard Dean's own webloggers are still struggling to understand.

So, are webloggers journalists? Some are! Are they editors? Some are! Are they weirdos? Some are! (Look at me) Are they small in numbers (when compared to the overall population)? Yes! Are they passionate? Yes!

Why do I love webloggers? Because they are among the most passionate people in society. I've met the world's most passionate lawyers, doctors, librarians, politicians, journalists, editors, socialites, managers, executives, technologists through weblogging (some as writers, some as readers).

The more I weblog and get pulled into these arguments, the more I realize that most people don't really understand what's going on in this new world. It scares me, because when someone says "when are we gonna go mainstream?" they are asking me "when are you going to get the non-passionate involved?"

I really don't want that to happen. I'd rather get everyone to be passionate about something. That takes time, but it means that we won't have to dumb down our world to make it more palatable to those who aren't passionate.

But, I didn't answer the question posed by Micah and Britt that they really are trying to get to: will weblogging replace traditional journalists and editors?

No way. Will I replace Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News? Will I replace Steven Levy of Newsweek? Or Chris Taylor at Time Magazine? Or Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal? Or Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch? Or Todd Bishop of the Seattle PI? Or Paul Andrews of the Seattle Times?

You've gotta be kidding, right?

First of all, I'm defacto biased. What do I mean by that? I'm getting paid by one company. There's no way I can be objective about it. So, there's no way I can cover anything in the technology industry objectively. These guys can.

Second of all, I have no checks and balances over me. All of those people above have editors. They don't just get to write whatever they want. Even Walt Mossberg (who Wired Magazine just called the most powerful technology journalists on the face of the earth) must explain his positions to management.

But lastly, what don't I have? Distribution! Millions of people read the words of the folks above. How many read my words? My distribution is measured in the thousands. Not the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, either. The thousands. It's a very small number when you consider Microsoft has products like Hotmail that are used by hundreds of millions of people.

Do I see that changing anytime soon? Nope. Here's why: journalists and editors and distribution matter to our society. Look at my experimental aggregator blog (now closed). That got more traffic per day than my main blog. Why? Because it served an editorial function. No normal human being can read 1430 weblogs a day, but everyone can read one weblog with 150 items a day on it.

That's exactly what the Wall Street Journal is. It's an aggregation of the top financial/business news of the day. The Wall Street Journal is a lot bigger than Walt Mossberg.

So, webloggers, stop arguing about whether you're gonna beat Walt or Dan or Steve or Mary Jo. You aren't going to.

Instead, we should see what we could do to work together to help each other.

How? For instance, what will happen during the next major earthquake in San Jose? Will the few hundred journalists who work for the San Jose Mercury News be able to keep up with such a huge story? No. Webloggers, because of our numbers, will be able to cover such an event in a way that traditional journalists would never be able to.

So, if I were a traditional journalist, working at a place that has distribution, I'd be working to figure out how to use webloggers and the power that they bring. Dan Gillmor has done just that by doing his own weblog (so has Paul Andrews, Mary Jo Foley, Todd Bishop, and many other journalists). If a big news story happens here in Redmond/Seattle, who will be the first journalists I'll contact? The guys who understand the weblog movement and play here too.

But I don't hold a belief that someday I'll put them out of business. It just isn't going to happen.

11:40:13 AM    comment 

There are few joys better than getting up with your wife on Sunday morning, making Belgian Waffles and Coffee, and listening to B.B. King together on the couch.

Hope your morning is going similarly well.

It's stunning weather in Seattle right now. Sunny and blue skies. We are talking about driving up to the snow and having a snowball fight. Hmmm, that'll be fun.

11:02:56 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:50:55 AM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). 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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