Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Saturday, December 04, 2004

Here's the first of many book interactions. Scoble and Israel: an odd couple.

Heh, we're fighting already! :-)

One thing that's amazing is how readers are getting involved. I have one email from a CEO of a pretty large company asking for a blogging policy. I have a few others offering content help.

This is gonna be fun. You all are the best.

Oh, Shel also gave credit for the idea to Andy Ruff (program manager on Microsoft's Entourage product) and Buzz Bruggeman (CEO of ActiveWords). I'm glad he did that, cause they deserve all the credit for this idea and for getting the two of us together.

OK, I promised to move this over to my book blog. Let's go.

10:54:39 AM    comment 

I like what Iggy Kin is doing with his MSN Spaces blog. Nice Tablet Evangelism! I can't wait to show you Longhorn's interface this way.

It's cool to see how he annotates on top of other blogs with the Tablet PC snipping tool. Neat idea!

4:59:36 AM    comment 

Oh, heck, I'm so far behind. I gotta write a review of my new Mirra box. Love it! But, here's some other quick hits from my email. Keep it coming. I only have 128 emails to go before I catch up with the flow.

I check in on the Tablet PC dev center often. They just put up a discount for the Windows Anywhere conference that Fawcette is running.

Web Services Enhancements (WSE 2.0) went live yesterday.

Are you a high-school or college student? Well, the MSDN Student Flash blog might be one that you'd like to subscribe to.

Linda Epstein kept getting asked what geeks would want for Christmas, so she put together a cute list for Santa over on her TabletPC2 site.

Dang, Mike Wendland, famous tech journalist, spent some quality time with Steve Ballmer and even ended up talking Tablet PCs and spam. Steve never helps me with my tech support questions. Yes, I'm jealous!

Do you have as much money as Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates? Me neither, but Jason Calacanis has started a "Luxury Blog" named Luxist. Yeah, I stare at it too, then look at my credit card debt and say "not for me."

What about for those of you who have more time on your hands than you have money. Do you play Halo 2? That thing keeps breaking sales records. It's sold more than five million copies already. I wonder how it's gonna end up. Will Halo 2 sell more copies than Firefox distributes? Anyway, check out the Halo 2 RSS Excel Workbook. Lots of fun stat analysis of your Halo 2 asskicking.

The .NETCPU embedded system development kit is now in beta. Looks like a lot of fun, albeit a bit pricey. Something like $500.

The podcasting space continues to see innovation at a breakneck pace. And to think that this whole product category didn't exist six months ago. Whew. Here's the BlogMatrix Sparks! Records streaming Internet radio programs and downloads podcasts to store them in your media player (iTunes or Windows Media Player). Speaking of which, is that Adam Curry in Newsweek? Yeah! You should have seen the piece that the BBC did on podcasting on Thanksgiving day. Lenn showed me that on Thursday. Wow.

Ahh, my favorite news aggregator, NewsGator, just got another round of funding. But, will it be my favorite in 2005? I'm playing with an alpha version of OnFolio 2.0, and wow that's cool!

Gretchen and Zoe wrote me the other day and said that Microsoft STILL has almost 5000 jobs open. And I am getting more and more "jobs going unfilled" notices. Here's one from Grouper for a client software developer.

PC Magazine: Apps that Think in Ink.

4:14:36 AM    comment 

I still have a bit of photojournalist in me, so I love seeing the best of photojournalism contest done by the National Press Photographer's Association. Really great images. I wish I were so talented.

3:45:09 AM    comment 

I just updated my link blog and also opened "the Red Couch" blog on MSN Spaces for my half of the new book project I'll be working on with Shel Israel.

Lots of fun stuff on the Link Blog tonight. In fact, one thing you'll notice is that I'm gonna start linking to anyone who has a book that could possibly compete with ours (or be complimentary). Hugh Hewitt's new blog book is on the link blog.

Ahh, CNET reviewed the Scoblephone.

Brian Bailey's "12 days of blogging" is pretty funny too.

3:40:57 AM    comment 

David Warner, analyzes my blog, and says: "I want to know where I go to sign up for a job like that."

If you notice, I still do this blog (and my link blog) on my own time pretty much. Almost all my blogging is at night and on weekends. I put in at least 40 hours a week on Channel 9, then another three to five hours per night (sometimes more) on my various blogs.

So, yeah, if you wanna do what I do, go for it, but you'll have to have a day job too. And it's not an easy one. Try talking people into taking risks and letting you video tape them and show them to the world.

Why do I do it? Cause it's fun. If it weren't I certainly wouldn't do it at 3:03 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

3:03:54 AM    comment 

Over on Channel 9 we're in the middle of a tour of the SQL Server team. Lots of fun people, demos, and tours of some killer labs that are stuffed with computers.

2:17:48 AM    comment 

Engadget's kicking my behind.

Shhh, I voted for them too. There's no way I'm better than Engadget or Gizmodo. I do appreciate the 90 or so votes I've gotten so far, though. To have about 100 people say that you're the best tech blog out there out of the thousands that are possible is just such a big honor to me. You all are the best. Oh, hey mom, stop spamming the engine!

2:14:37 AM    comment 

I agree with A VC. Sony, call off the legal dogs. Jason Kottke rules!

2:11:09 AM    comment 

Nathan's call had a profound effect on me. It made me realize that blogs build relationships which improve customer service and a whole raft of business things in a scalable way. Yesterday I met the team who is redesigning MCI's home page. They had a profound effect on me too. They want to use blogs inside the firewall to help make them more efficient. Why? Because the team's members live in different locations and need better tools to work together.

A couple of other things going on: on Monday I'm talking about blogs to a group of Microsoft employees along with Betsy Aoki of MSDN. And I just learned that in January I'll be the keynote speaker at the Blog Business Summit. Oh, also on Monday a famous magazine journalist will be interviewing me about corporate blogs and stuff.

This all leads back to my little red couch. And just who was sitting on it last Saturday. What was he doing? I didn't tell you because I wanted to think about what he was talking to me about.

Well, now that I've bought into what he was talking about I can reveal it was (Shel Israel) who was pitching me on doing a book about corporate blogging and how it will make your business more successful.

Last time I participated in a book I swore I'd never do another one (I wrote about 40% of a book back in 1997 about NetMeeting). That project nearly killed me.

But, Shel is a good pitch man. He told me we should do a book together. And we should do it now.

It's weird, but all week long I've been getting email requests for help doing blogs. Corporate blogs. Even competitors are asking us now about our policies and what we need to worry about and such.

So, the pitch made sense. But I don't have time, I thought.

"That's OK," Shel said, "I'll write it."

Oh, a ghost thing? Nah, that won't make sense either. It has to be different. It has to be better than that. It has to be a joint effort.

Tonight, while at 41,000 feet in an airplane from Seattle to Oakland, it hit me: do the entire thing on the blogs.

And I meant THE ENTIRE THING. I called Shel last night while driving along 880 (remember, we didn't yet have a formal deal, or even a proposal yet). I told Shel I'm not going to accept his emails anymore. Huh? I told him we're going to do this whole thing on the blogs. He pushed back. That is the craziest idea he's ever heard, he told me. He thought it would mess up our ability to really discuss the book openly. Could we discuss people in the industry openly? Why not? I asked. We SHOULD be transparent. Especially given the content that our book would be pushing.

I told him that blogging the entire book would:

1) Get readers involved which would improve the quality of the book -- after all, our readers are smarter than we are. Dan Gillmor taught me that and he was right.

2) Let publishers see the book before they bought it and see the speed at which we were completing the book (many publisher/author fights are about deadlines and such).

3) Build marketing and PR momentum behind the book before it was published. Heck, I think we'd build a community behind a book.

Then I dropped another bomb on him. "We're gonna sell the book's publishing rights on eBay."

Hey, if Jeremy Wright can sell his blogging services on eBay, we should be able to sell a book deal there. He got several thousand dollars, by the way. That's so cool!

So, now, what do we do?

I'm going to use my MSN Space (there's nothing up there right now, but I'll post this up soon) to talk back and forth with Shel. You'll be able to follow along.

We're going to do as much as we can, including swearing back and forth, if that happens, on the blog.

Shel said he'd attempt to talk me out of this wacky idea (I'll be watching his own blog for his answer this weekend). We don't know where it will go. It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

So, now I'm going to start talking to Shel.

Hi Shel, we need to decide a few things. First, our business arrangement. How does this sound?

We go in 50/50. With a twist: you get all the advance. On my NetMeeting book we got an advance of something like $14,000 and then a royalty which came out to something like $2 a book (after the advance was paid off, so we only started getting more checks if more than 7,000 copies were sold).

So, you get the advance. All of it (remember, we'll be selling the book on eBay, so we have no idea how the market will price this book, we might not get offered anything, and if that happens, we're out of luck). If the advance is $100,000, you get it all. If it's $5,000 you get it all. Then I get any royalties until we're even, so if we sell 10,000 books I get nothing, you get everything. Note to the readers: 99% of all books never sell enough to pay back their advance (my NetMeeting book didn't, for instance).

Sound good? If not, propose something better. Yeah, I know that last weekend you proposed that I get a bigger percentage cause you think I have a bigger name. I say hogwash. To both claims. You've done a lot in your life. A lot more than I've done. And you have 20 years more in the business than I do. We're going 50/50 on this deal. Just like Eminem and Dr. Dre. I don't need the money (although it would be nice), so don't need the advance, so I can take a little risk on this project. I believe in it, I've seen it work.

Now, I want Hugh Macleod to do the art on the book. So, we'll need to figure out how to get him involved too. Maybe we'll renegotiate our 50/50 at some future date to help bring him, or someone else into do stuff for the book.

Also, you're taking care of writing the proposal for the book and the table of contents, right? Cool. I look forward to when you post those on your blog.

Let me switch into a FAQ format for a bit to start out some of the other things:

Q: What should the title of the book be?

A: For now, I'm going to call it "the red couch project." Cause I hate the names we came up with earlier this week. "Conversational Marketing" sounds lame. "Corporate Weblogging Manifesto" is just as lame, plus it sounds like we copied the idea from the Cluetrain guys. "Blogging in business?" Please.

Anyway, if Seth Godin can do a book called "the Purple Cow" we can do a book called "The Red Couch."

Q: Will there be a podcast to accompany the book?

A: Why not? Especially when we get together and start yelling and screaming at each other about what the book title should be.

Q: How many pages should the book be?

A: As many as it takes. Well, the NetMeeting book was 400 pages. That nearly killed me. So, how about 400 again?

Q: Can we talk smack about Dave Winer on our book blogs?

A: I don't know, why don't we ask Dave?

Q: How about Mark Cuban?

A: Hell, if the NBA can fine him, we can talk smack about him on our blogs.

Q: Which famous CEO's will we interview?

A: I don't know, but they'll need to be listed on the CEO Bloggers blog

Q: What will the format be?

A: Still to be argued out?

Q: What happens if we make a gazillion dollars?

A: Yeah, right, publishing a book? I'm going to donate my part of it to charity. Not sure which one yet, but I doubt I'll have to worry about that.

Q: So, why are you motivated to do a book then?

A: Because I get several emails and calls from people trying to figure out how to use blogs, and blogging services, to build better relationships with their customers.

Q: Why do relationships matter?

A: Ask the guys who do ABC's Extreme Home Makeover show. They called up a journalist who told them my cell phone. All because of my blog. That's now turned into a deep business relationship between our two companies.

Q: Will the book talk about how blogs are helping companies build better products?

A: Absolutely, look at how MSN is using blogs to have an ongoing conversation with the marketplace. Even as some people (yes, me) say that their services aren't good enough yet.

Q: Will the book talk about the technology of blogging?

A: Let's discuss that after you throw in your proposal. I have some definite ideas on all of this stuff.

Q: Why did I decide on Shel as a co-author?

A: Because he worked at Regis McKenna back in the early days. (They were Apple's PR firm). Because I love his Conferenza newsletters (he writes newsletters about conferences -- very blog like). Because he's an old fart. Yeah, he said I could say that on my blog. He's an adult, has many more scars on his back than I do. And is much more conservative than I am. Er, you could even say he's "old school."

I need someone like him to say I'm full of bullpucky. And to focus my energy and answer the kinds of concerns that marketers and PR people and managers at companies like Procter and Gamble will have about the blogosphere and how best to interact with it.

Q: Will this book suck?

A: Well, we'll know before it gets published if it does. Our readers will tell us. They'll be the third co-author. Oh, and if it sucks, well then the publishers won't buy it, or won't pay much for it, right?

Q: Why should I buy the book if the entire thing is going to be done online?

A: Easy. You shouldn't. But you should tell your friends to buy it. We're figuring that for every blog reader there are three friends out there who don't know anything about blogs and don't want to read a book on a computer screen. So, if we give away 100,000 copies (not an unreasonable number because we had more that many show up on Channel 9 in just the first two days in business and Firefox has given away, what, seven million copies of Firefox so far in just a few weeks) that we'll get a few sales from your friends. So, the people who help us write the book and hype it up get it for free, but their friends have to pay. Plus, if the book is actually good maybe some of you will want it on your bookshelves to show you support good stuff.

Q: Can you do this and still work at Microsoft at the same time?

A: Yes, that's why Shel's pitch caught my ear (and why I'm going to work completely on the blogs). I write my blog anyway, and I'll just spend a little less time on my link blog while we're doing that. I'm spending three to five hours a night on that.

Q: No, I mean, will Microsoft let you write that book without wanting ownership of it?

A: Well, I'm sure a hoarde of lawyers will get involved at some point. But, I asked my boss and he said OK. And, anyway, because I'm giving my side of any royalties to charity (which Microsoft will double, by the way) I'm sure that anyone who tries to stop it will look a little nutty. Not that that won't stop them, but I don't think it's a problem. If it is, speak up now!

Q: What if I want to write a chapter or a story?

A: You mean you, the reader of my blog? Hmmm. Shel, what do you think about that?

Q: Who will the book be aimed at?

A: Shel and I will talk about that over the next few weeks as we hash out the vision of this book.

Q: Will this book crud take up space on the Scobleizer blog? I'm already tired of reading about it.

A: No, I'll remind you of the Red Couch Blog once in a while. But other than that this will be the last post about the book here on the Scobleizer.

Q: What if I have other questions I want to know about it?

A: Leave them here.

So, what do you think about this crazy idea?

12:28:57 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
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Last updated:
5/11/2005; 1:00:16 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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