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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
 

Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

Interesting concept here.

I ran into Jeff Barr today and he asked what I thought about Mechanical Turk. 'Huh?" I said. Don't know where I've been for the last week. Amazon launched a service that brings together people with small jobs and people willing to perform them. The jobs pay pennies and take a few seconds. Micropayments for microwork. Very cool idea.

Most of the examples on the site now are picture identification tasks. The payments are around $0.03. Not a lot of money, but the jobs don't take long. Right now the requesters all seem to be Amazon. I signed up and spent a few minutes earning $0.24. Not the best pay I've ever received, but I was using a trackpad. :-) The money goes to my Amazon account and can be turned into cash.

I couldn't help thinking, however, as I did it about Paul Allen's talk that I just attended and about his pleas that we use technology to help lift people. There are a lot of people who could earn money doing this. If you have access to a computer (in the library, for example) and can read, you're qualified. To earn enough to put you above the poverty level ($9/hr), you have to do 300 tasks an hour--not inconceivable. The only sticky point is that the people most in need might not have access to a bank account to turn the earning's into cash. That's something that could be fixed without much effort.

[Phil Windley's Technometria]

7:22:57 AM    

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
 

Blogging at Public CIO.

Public CIO Magazine has an article on blogging by Blake Harris that I'm part of. Blake asked a lot of good questions and we talked for a while.

That is why the Utah state government's brash foray into blogging stands out. A few months after becoming Utah's CIO in 2001, Phillip Windley began blogging personally.

"It wasn't very long after that -- a month or so -- that I realized there could be a lot of value to an organization if there were people inside the organization who blogged," Windley explained. "I could see how when I wrote stuff on my blog, people who worked for me and people who worked in IT throughout the state, as well as others, would respond to it. I thought, "This is cool. I've got a channel to essentially talk to these people.'"

But Windley also wanted to hear what these people were thinking and saying. So he assembled a little program, negotiated a price for up to 100 licenses with UserLand, and offered anyone in Utah state government a free blog for a year if they wanted to start blogging. Although blogs were little known among the general Internet population back then, about 35 people took him up on the offer.

Many of these blogs eventually died for various reasons. "Some people just don't like to write," said Windley. "And there was some institutional backlash against it. There was>From Government Technology's Public CIO Magazine
Referenced Wed Feb 02 2005 16:00:46 GMT-0700
[Phil Windley's Technometria]
9:33:36 PM    

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
 

.Net info.  I need to share this with our group.

The disintermediation of marketing -- Channel 9 style.

"Channel 9 is marketing." I've heard that a few times, usually from people who try to deride what we're doing there.

Of course it's marketing. But, it's disintermediated marketing. Here, look at this video interview with Jason Zander. He runs the .NET common language runtime team.

In one short video he did more to explain what .NET to developers than a slickly-done graphic that took hours to produce.

Now, there's a role for the slickly-done graphic too, but something about asking Jason to explain the architecture of .NET on his whiteboard resonated with me, and seems to be resonating with developers too. So far 3,549 people have watched the video.

See, Jason is on the team. He knows more about .NET than almost anyone alive. I bet he knows more about .NET than even Bill Gates knows. His explanation might not be slick. It hasn't been edited. Cleaned up. Colorfied. In fact, it's even worse than that. We shoot with $450 camcorders and $30 microphones. I don't use lights. I don't use makeup. I don't do a lot of editing (I'm lazy, shoot me).

I think this is the future of marketing. Removing intermediaries. Developer-to-developer. Enthusiast-to-enthusiast.

What's even better is that if you watch any of the CLR tour and you still have questions, you can pen a note to Jason and his team and he answers back. Think about that one for a minute. Has marketing changed?

It's the death of marketing. It's the beginning of building a relationship with the long-tail.

Now we all know what .NET is and we didn't need a team of marketers to reexplain it to us.

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]

8:50:35 PM    

Monday, October 25, 2004
 

Consultants and fear of corporate blogging

What an interesting concept. It seems like only a week ago or so that a research analyst in my Department sent me an invite from a top IT consulting company about blogging and the impact for organizations. I've been bugging him to look into blogging for over two years since his job is dispensing information and research to others.  Dispensing it via a blog is a natural.  He always told me the places/people he got his informantion from Gartner, Forrester, NOREX, Nascio ect., didnt have blogs so there was no way for him to get good and reliable information.  We suscribe to them all so he gets all the information he needs and shares it willing via email.

Soooo... I was very pleased when he sent me an invite to an upcoming event discussing blogging in organizations. I sent him a long message telling him I was glad to see the big IT consultant folks getting into the space now.  I thought it was a double edged sword since consultants make big $ based on their recommendations. Someone with a $40 dollar software package could create a blog, get a "reputation" and provide competition the the established consulting companies. The fact that they could speak freely about products w/out the legal fears of big companies might help a blogger, but not neccessarily accuracy! . Actually, that is not a good thing but it is totally possible.

I ended up by telling him thanks, but the cost of the conference was way more then I could afford plus I wasn't conviced it was safe enough to blog in my organization quite yet anyway.

Then I stumbled across a new blog by Forrester analyst Charlen Li where she stated.

...I'm currently researching how companies should go about blogging (it's a piece that I'll be producing as part of Forrester's Client Choice program -- clients get to choose from a number of different and topics and lo and behold -- blogging was #1). And Robert Scoble comes out with a very thoughtful post piece discussing the fear that holds companies back from setting up blogs.

In the course of my work, I frequently talk with companies struggling with what to do about blogs -- all the pros of connecting with your customers offset by tons of scary legal scenarios.

As I mentioned earlier, this is Forrester's first blog .....<emphasis added>

Looks like the evolution is occuring. :)   I look forward to reading more of Charlenes posts as she learns more about how the medium is changing the old rules.


7:37:43 PM    

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
 

Are you afraid to blog?.

This is a great article. It comes on the heels of a coworker asking me about blogging in my organization.  I may work for Scoble, but I as I mentioned to my co worker, we are just not ready for it.

Corporate Fear.

Fear of being different. Fear of telling your boss your ideas. Fear of speaking up in meetings. Fear of going up to someone you don't know and introducing yourself. Fear of doing something that might destroy your career.

Fear of weblogging.

It's time we get over our fears.

I meet a lot of people around the industry. Almost everytime I meet someone, I ask them "do you have a weblog?" That's my way of saying "I like you and want to hear more of your ideas." Even deeper: I want a permanent relationship with you (and not of the sexual kind, either).

I've asked this question of people at Apple. Google. IBM. eBay. Real Networks. Cisco. Intel. HP. Amazon. And, yes, here at Microsoft.

Too often the answer is "I couldn't do that."

"Why not?" I ask.

"Because I might get fired," is often the answer. I hate that answer. It's an example of corporate fear. An artifact of a management system that doesn't empower its employees to act on behalf of customers.

I find this fear disturbing. Imagine being a flight attendant with this kind of fear. "Sorry, I can't talk to the passengers in this plane today cause I might get fired."

I'm not the only one who sees it, either. John McCain, in the September 2004 Fast Company, went looking for courage.

Lately, more and more people, both inside and outside of Microsoft, have been asking me for ways to convince their boss to "get" weblogging. Translation: they are trying to overcome their fears (and/or get their managers to empower them).

Lately I've been answering with one word: Kryptonite.

"What?"

Kryptonite. Lately I've been asking audiences I've been speaking to "who knows the Kryptonite story?" 75% do.

If you don't know the story, do a Google search for Kryptonite and "Bic Pen". We'll wait.

We just watched the destruction of an American brand. 75% know about it. Why? Because of one or two weblogs and the new word-of-mouth network. Yes, Engadget and Gizmodo do have that kind of power. Engadget alone has 250,000 of the most influential readers the world has ever seen.

My second question is: "What have you heard from Kryptonite about this issue?"

Not a single person has been able to tell me the answer yet (yes, they have an official response on the home page of their site, but no one in my audiences has been able to articulate the answer to me). Why not?

I went looking for the answer. I searched Google for "Kryptonite Weblog." None found. "Kryponite blog." None found. I went looking for executive names. None found. So, I couldn't look up whether any of the execs had a blog.

Only a press release on the home page. No way to have a conversation. No way to tell the company off. I looked for comments from the company on Engadget and BoingBoing. I didn't find any, but maybe they are there somewhere. Dave Sifry, founder of Technorati, tracked the Kryptonite story in the blogosphere and did some interesting graphic analysis.

Want to motivate your boss to get blogs? Have him do some homework on the Kryptonite story and look at the brand equity that has gone away due to their response (or lack thereof).

Here's what's going on: the word-of-mouth networks are becoming more efficient at a time when people trust large corporations less and less.

The time it takes for an idea to be hatched, found by Slashdot, and then reported in the mainstream media, is now about five weeks.

Next time around it will be even faster.

Why? The word-of-mouth networks are becoming more efficient.

Today there's 4,305,245 weblogs, as reported by Technorati.

Yeah, maybe only 55% of those are actually being published to (Dave Sifry, founder of Technorati says). But look at that growth curve. The blogosphere is eight times as large today as it was in June 2003! If those trends don't get your attention, nothing will. Go back to sleep.

But, a corporate blog isn't just a good place to talk to the world whenever there's a crisis. If that's the only reason you let your employees blog, you'll be missing the really good stuff here.

"OK, what are the reasons I should let my employees blog?"

Here's my observations:

1) People don't trust corporations. Especially big and successful ones like, um, Microsoft. Come on, be honest, none of you really trust us to do the right thing, do you? So, how do we show you that we're trustworthy? We need to invite you deep inside our corporate structures and talk to you like human beings. It's exactly why Channel 9 resonates with so many of you.

2) People don't like talking to corporations. Again, be honest, if you saw a press release from a big company asking for you to provide feedback on something, would you? Hey, Microsoft has had "mswish@microsoft.com" for a long time. Even when I was a customer of Microsoft's, I'd never send anything to that address. Why? I never thought anyone was listening. Do any of you feel any differently? Yet I get so much email now giving Microsoft feedback about our products that I can't keep up (I'm four days behind).

3) That old "markets are conversations" thing. If you haven't read the Cluetrain Manifesto, why not?

4) Which is more believeable? A press release from, say, Ford Motor Company, or a few blog entries from the people who designed the new Ford Mustang's powertrain.

That Ford blog is just inspiring. Here are people who obviously love what they do, have been empowered to share their love.

Yeah, it isn't perfect. I notice a bit of marketing talk seeping in there (someone slap me when I do that!). And where are the darn permalinks and RSS feed? Grrr. Ford: your customers want a permanent marketing relationship with you. You are so absolutely close to completely getting it. Go the extra 10%.

5) Blogs build customer evangelists. I learned at the MSN Search Champs that people WANT to be evangelists for your products, they just need to be included in the business. "Huh?" I can hear some of you asking. You know, include your most passionate customers from the very start of the product planning cycle. Don't think that works? It's time you go back and meet Amy, the customer evangelist at the Christopher Creek winery in Sonoma. She had such an impact on me that I'm talking about that winery months after my visit to Sonoma. Now THAT'S evangelism. I wish she had a blog, I'd love to read her thoughts on the wine industry. By the way, Christopher Creek doesn't have a blog. What a missed opportunity! A worse tragedy? Amy, the evangelist, isn't featured on their Web site.

6) Blogs build market momentum and get adoption. Ask Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, about this one. He's gotten world-class reviews in the newspapers you all love and know (just a week or so ago ActiveWords was in the New York Times). But he gets more downloads of his product when I linked to him than when a famous "USA" newspaper wrote a glowing review. They have millions of readers. What am I missing here? Yet I've had product managers for products that make billions every year tell me that they'll just advertise in national newspapers and get the same "kick" that blogs will get them. (They look at my puny 4,000 readers per day and laugh. Keep laughing, but do your homework and ask Buzz about his experiences -- he's not the only one who's noticed this. Ask Nokia (or, even the marketers at Microsoft) about how important a good link on Engadget is).

How many Xbox Live subscriptions has Major Nelson (aka Larry Hryb, programming director on Xbox Live) sold? I bought one cause of his blog. I know there's others. Aside: By the way, Larry, your latest item was obviously written by someone in marketing. Don't do that anymore. You'll lose your credibility. Your authenticity. Your voice. Tell the marketing guys to get their own blogs if they want you to post that kind of stuff. You can always link over. Human minds are excellent pattern recognizers. We can tell when something doesn't fit.

Be like Dallas Mavericks' CEO Mark Cuban. He said, on his blog, "The point of my blog is to try to tell the story behind the story that is in the paper." Most journalists only have 10 to 30 column inches to write about your product. Yes, celebrate everytime your product gets written up by the New York Times (believe me, Buzz does, he calls me everytime he gets written up). But, use your blog to explain more. Will the New York Times explain all the new graphics that are available for the Maytag SkyBox? No, but their blog sure does!

A well-done simple blog will make you an authority. Hey, looking for real estate in Southern California? If you read a blog like this one, does that make you more or less likely to use the team of Fran and Rowena?

Anyway, that's enough, gotta go do some email and get some sleep. What else could we do to help you get over your fears? Should we come over and wack your boss upside the head? Here's a little secret. You should do just that. He or she might fire you, but then if you don't blog the market might fire you anyway. Just ask the folks over at Kryptonite.

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]
8:53:55 PM    

Gartenberg says that some SHOULD be afraid of blogging.

Michael Gartenberg: Robert offers a lot of risky corporate advice.

"Some organizations have the right culture that can allow for blogging to take place with minimal disruption and actually enhance conversations. Robert Scoble is fortunate to be working for one of them. Other organizations need to deal with three separate issues and they are not all the same and they can each be dealt with over time."

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]
8:43:10 PM    

Thursday, October 07, 2004
 

A great artcicle about finding a place to work  The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code

So I've come up with my own, highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team. The great part about it is that it takes about 3 minutes. With all the time you save, you can go to medical school.

The Joel Test

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

The neat thing about The Joel Test is that it's easy to get a quick yes or no to each question. You don't have to figure out lines-of-code-per-day or average-bugs-per-inflection-point. Give your team 1 point for each "yes" answer. The bummer about The Joel Test is that you really shouldn't use it to make sure that your nuclear power plant software is safe.

A score of 12 is perfect, 11 is tolerable, but 10 or lower and you've got serious problems. The truth is that most software organizations are running with a score of 2 or 3, and they need serious help, because companies like Microsoft run at 12 full-time. 


9:22:49 PM    

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
 

We are not alone here!  Looks like others are grappling wiht this issue too!

Data Center Consolidation. California is pushing data center consolidation among other things. Meanwhile Utah has its own data center consolidation issues. People continue to talk about it but until the legislature decides its time to stop allocating money for new data centers, they'll keep getting built. The Dept. of Corrections is building one in Gunnison, just up the road from the State's back-up data center in Richfield. Dave Fletcher, who runs the Richfield data center, is working hard to make it an attractive alternative for State agencies so that they won't build their own, but apparently that's somewhat threatenting to some Dept. of Corrections employees. At least Devin has the guts to say what he thinks in public---that shows more courage than most. [Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog]


7:33:15 PM    

I really do need to get more involved n why we are not moving in this direction

How Americans use instant messaging.

 

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

2004 Pew Internet & American Life surveys reveal that more than four in ten online Americans instant message. That reflects about 53 million American adults who use instant messaging programs. About 11 million of them IM at work and they are becoming fond of its capacity to encourage productivity and interoffice cooperation.

(Emphasis added.)

[GovTechNews: A government-technology blog]
7:24:59 PM    


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