The usual disclaimers apply. This is my personal blog and these are my personal opinions and they probably don't agree with anyone else's opinions, especially those of my employer.
First of all, you should realize I'm a STAUNCH advocate for the first amendment (freedom of the press). It is one of those things I would die for. It's something that I would never give up. Even if it required giving up my paycheck. Or, my life.
You can see that committment in my comments. I don't delete comments for any reason other than they are spam (and, if you notice, I really don't even delete most of them for that reason either). Even for speech I hold to be quite detestable.
It is one of my deepest held, and dearest held rights.
So, do I think Chinese citizens should have the right to publish whatever they want? Absolutely.
But, and this is a big but...I'm not Chinese. I'm American. So I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS forcing the Chinese into a position they don't believe in.
Hear me out.
I've been to China (as an employee of Winnov about seven years ago). I met with Government officials there. I met with students. I met with professors. They explained their anti-free-speech stance to me and I understand it. I don't agree with it, and I will be happy to explain to anyone the benefits of giving your citizens the right to speak freely, but it's not my place to make their laws. It certainly is not my right to force their hand with business power.
Any more than it's their place to make American laws. I'd be very offended if Chinese companies tried to influence our laws here. Or, pushed their agenda on American soil.
So, when looking at it that way, I do not see this as the same as the anti-discrimination legislation that I spoke up for. That was in the state I reside in. This is not.
When doing business in various countries and, even, various states here in the US, we must comply with the local laws if we want to do business there.
And, as a shareholder in Microsoft, I think it would be a bad decision to decide not to do business in China.
That all said. There are ways to change the culture of a country. And I will personally support any Chinese citizen who works to get free speech rights. It's important to me. But, if the facts are correct in this case, I'll defend Microsoft's decision too.
What do you think?
So, what do you do when you're in the middle of a PR firestorm? In other words, when other bloggers are egging you on to answer some complex issue that will probably get you Slashdotted.
Here's what I do.
1) Slow down. See if you can get more facts. Rick Segal taught me this one and he's right. The reaction to post fast isn't always the best reaction. That said, read #2.
2) Post fast to recognize the news. Link to the main source of whatever is getting your customers in a tizzy (you'll know, cause if you are a fairly recognizable blogger you'll start getting emails from your readers telling you about the coming storm).
3) Get the facts, if you can. If you can't, keep working it until you can. In the case of today I still haven't heard back from the PR teams or from Microsoft China. It is Sunday and they are on the other side of the world, so that's excuseable.
4) It's OK to go personal, if that's OK with your corporate culture. Watch for me to go personal about the China/MSN incident shortly.
5) But, be careful. The issues might involve all sorts of trouble spots. In the issue that we're talking about today there's lots of governmental issues. If you don't have personal knowledge, it's best to stay out.
6) Be absolutely accurate. Think about what your words will look like on the front page of the New York Times.
What other advice would you have for such situations?
Dave: you're right. I can't wait to use your new Outlining tool.
And, I think Microsoft isn't the only one ready for it.
At Reboot several people noticed that Macintosh users had a way to "live edit" a common document. Microsofties can do the same thing with Groove, but that's not cross-platform.
I have seen the benefits of live outlining close up, back when I worked for Dave, and saw how a team could work better together because of it.
It was similar to working with a Wiki except without the WeirdCase that you need to use to build links and such.
Chris Pratley should see this -- Chris, I'll show it off to you after Dave gives it to me. It would be a very interesting capability to add to OneNote.
It's interesting. On the plane I listened to Nicole interview Martin Röll about the new world of work. He gave a talk on Saturday that I couldn't make because I was giving a talk at the same time. Dave, you should show your tool to Martin. He's doing some of the most interesting thinking about how the world of work is changing.
Just got done listening to Dave's iPaq podcast. I love this. I get to hear how people react to our products and they put little tips out too. All of his podcasts are up here. If you're into portables, you'll love it.
David Oliver just sent me this one -- Star Wars: A Musical Tribute. I'll watch next. He says it's a classic.
Roger L. Simon: "Democracy" is Forbidden Speech to Microsoft.
If you live in China, I'm sorry about this. But, then, your government probably already blocks my blog.
I don't know what's up with this, though. I'm trying to find out. Looks like an interesting week ahead.
I just uploaded 110+ items to my link blog. I sure hope you are reading that in an RSS News Aggregator. If you are reading it in a Web browser, you're wasting your time. I'm posting from 30,000 feet, of course. Sitting next to an Amazon programmer. Maybe I'll talk him into using .NET. After lunch. Heh.
Update: fixed the URL.
I had an absolutely wonderful time in Europe. Maryam got a personal tour of Copenhagen's new Operahouse. She says it is a must see. The guy who built it (owner of the Maersk shipping line) spared no expense, she says.
But, for me, I'm a geek, and I'm excited I've found a TON of new blogs. My backpack is bulging with new cards. I'm gonna be reading stuff for weeks.
Two notable ones to start with? Plasticbag. That's Tom Coates weblog. He works at BBC radio and music interactive.
Loud Thinking. That's David Heinemeier Hansson's blog. He's the guy who wrote Ruby on Rails. Tons of people were talking about that. They say it's the biggest thing to the Web development tool market in years.
Signal vs. Noise. The blog that Jason Fried and others in his software development firm are doing.
There's a bunch of other great tech blogs on the Reboot wiki page.
Well, that's it. Gotta go board. Talk to you from the plane.
Alright, I'm in the airport, loading up my portable media device with podcasts. Here's what I'll be listening to on the way home.
Dave's iPAQ Podcast. He talks about various things that happened last week at TechED.
Steve Gillmor's "Gillmor Daily."
I'm taking a bunch from The Podcast Network.
Had dinner with Jason Calacanis last night, and he told me he did a vidcast from the SAS plane I'll be on in an hour. Heh, who else will join the mile-high-club? SAS runs Boeing's Connexion wifi service on their Airbus planes between Copenhagen and Seattle. Funny quote "the people around me think I'm totally nuts." I know the feeling. Heh!
Several from Adam Curry.
So, what you listening to? I'm leaving in 55 minutes. I wonder what else I can find.
If you were 15 or 16, had a band, what would you do? Start a Website, of course! That's exactly what Trial of Origin, an undiscovered teenage band in Staffordshire, United Kingdom, did.
I heard they are hosting their music on MSN Spaces. That's cool. Total plays so far, 125.
I wonder if they are the next Beatles? Just think of all the teenage bands that are putting their MP3's up on the net.
By the way, these kids are great! Make my new headphones come alive. I'm sitting in the Copenhagen airport listening to music only 125 other people in the world have heard. Isn't that crazy? I love this new world.
More of their rock music is here.
I hear the band will be at the "Our Social World" conference in Cambridge in September. I wish I could come, but I'll be at Microsoft's PDC during those dates. Hey, I wonder if we could get a video bridge going between the two conferences? There will be a ton of bloggers at both conferences.