Dave Winer is staying in the room next to me and he just came over to our room and said US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renquist has died. I was talking with Ryan Sholin, who is a journalism student at San Jose State University. He said "even when I'm on the phone with bloggers you tell me the news."
Cameron Reilly praises Microsoft for responding to Katrina. Cameron, I really hate that it's seen as a PR war everytime there's a major disaster. The way to judge a company isn't on the size of the graphic on the home page. I hated it when we were being judged negatively on that. I hate it when we're being given credit.
I far prefer we be judged by our employees who are doing something tangible. Go visit the Red Cross headquarters and other relief agencies and see who is doing work to help out. Look at the checks we're writing. That's where the depth of our character should be judged. Not on the size of our home page graphic.
Update: I don't want to minimize the effort it takes to put that graphic on the home page, either. It's not easy work (I wasn't involved, but was a witness to the sacrifice of teams and employees). Teams look forward to getting their stuff on the home page of microsoft.com (since that page gets lots of traffic and attention). I don't have a list of the teams who turned over their space and time to the Hurricane graphic, but I appreciate that a lot. I just would rather we see us spend our energy helping people right now rather than worrying whether Microsoft or Amazon or Apple or whoever has a bigger graphic on their home pages. When everyone is back in some kind of home and fed and the city is working again then we can debate about which company had a better PR response.
Speaking of New Orleans, several people have taken me to task for calling New Orleans mayor a hero. They point out that he's done other things that have not served his city well (read my comments for some examples).
They are right. This was a case where my emotions are speaking and I didn't do my homework. That interview got to me, it seemed to me to be where a politician went beyond. That interview HAS helped focus attention on the problems now underhand, which is why I called him out.
But it is probably inappropriate to call him a hero before I had all the facts.
This is a non-tech example of how I can't FUD you all here. You have more information, more knowledge, than I do. Than I possibly can have.
And, if I'm listening to you (I try) then I'll self correct my beliefs.
Thank you for doing that. It makes me a better and more informed human.
Really, I just wanted to thank everyone who is working this weekend to help out in a case of dire need. You're all heroes in my book.
I've been talking with folks all over the US tonight who are still at work at midnight on a Friday night. Yeah, most of the ones I've talked to tonight are Microsoft employees (but that's cause I know a ton of MSFTies who are working with the Red Cross and other agencies tonight), but I know there are other employees from every other tech company working tonight too. You all are heroes. What they doing? Whatever it takes to help out the Red Cross and the relief efforts. Everyone in this industry who is working their asses off tonight trying to help people are just inspiring (I've heard stories of volunteers dodging all sorts of danger in New Orleans to get some basic IT infrastructure built back up). I feel so lame for not doing anything. I'm gonna see if there's something that we can do this weekend with my son to help out.
Helping people takes IT. If you don't know where to send the troops and the food then you'll allocate resources poorly. There are hundreds of people working on just the IT infrastructure at the Red Cross alone (and there are lots of other projects underway -- the folks down in Louisiana are too busy to tell the stories yet, but I'm sure we'll be hearing about the work they are doing tonight for months).
Microsoft employees, here's some things you can do. Steve Ball has already organized a CD that they are going to sell to raise funds. If you're a musician, contact him to work with him on the set of CDs. Bungie is selling "fight the flood" T-shirts. Donate money, make sure you donate through the intranet page so that your dollars are matched by Microsoft (good advice for anyone working at a company that matches donations).
A bunch of people are raffling off a copy of Visual Studio 2005 to get more people to donate to this effort.
But it's the hundreds of people who are working at the Red Cross tonight who have my thoughts. I am off to donate to the cause again.
Oh, and here's a real American hero: Ray Nagin, New Orleans mayor. We need politicians who show leadership like Ray has. This interview with him is stunning. If you haven't heard it yet, he uses strong language to get the help his city needs. One of the most powerful interviews I've ever heard.