Updated: 7/4/2006; 3:25:38 PM.


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  Tuesday, June 13, 2006

  More on Microsoft: aggregation and feedback loop

Just have to do something with all those open windows before continuing working :)

On Robert Scoble's role as an aggregator:

Nick Bradbury: Now, once Robert moves on, what single source are we supposed to read when we want to find out about new stuff that Microsoft is doing, without all the marketing?

Niall Kennedy: What does the news mean for Microsoft? More people in large companies now realize the value of an information aggregator for internal and external communication. In a 60,000 person company you need some internal connectors to help keep teams and projects working together and benefitting from the work and knowledge of others. If Microsoft does not already have a team or teams dedicated to internal corporate development, hopefully they'll realize the value and create such a team.

And an example of a feedback loop via blogging:

Yesterday I got cranky with Microsoft about a long-standing bug in a Microsoft library that was causing problems for some FeedDemon customers. As you can imagine, I was frustrated that my work was being compromised by a known bug in code I had no control over, so I was feeling a little punchy when I posted yesterday.

Of course, I hoped that posting about the bug would get it the attention it deserved (which it did, btw). But I didn't think about how my cranky post would affect the Microsoft devs responsible for tackling the bug (yes, folks, they are human!). I know it's no fun to wake up and find some blogger just made your day harder.

As you can see from the comments to my post, Microsoft is on the ball - they jumped in, asked for more information, and reactivated the bug after being able to reproduce it. I have to agree with Andy Herron that Microsoft's reaction was impressive. So, thanks for taking my criticism in the way it was intended and for taking the time to look into the problem. I look forward to seeing this bug fixed :)

  Employee blogging: managing dangerous connections

Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft. I watch the ripples as I'm still interested to follow things happening in the company - understanding what was one of possible futures at the moment I did my interviews helps to interpret the past.

Between other things my brain picks up a quote from Robert:

Will I lose my audience? That's a question I've seen on the blogs.


Huh? You will unsubscribe if I don't give you a payoff. For many of you Microsoft was that payoff. Yes, Microsoft is still an interesting company for many many people in the world. When I was at my mom's funeral, what did we end up talking about at lunch afterward? Microsoft. Everyone had an opinion about Microsoft. Everyone knew who it was. What it did.

For me it correlates with things other people I interviewed said: being a Microsoft employee you never know if your readers are there because of who you are, what you write or because of the company you work for. Actually, they assumed that certain part of the audience is there for the last reason.

Why it is important? Because it provides context for judging what you say. Same things said by an average blogger and by a Microsoft blogger would have different weight.

I also saw different strategies of dealing with it - embracing the affiliation as there is no way to hide anyway, making a good use of it for promoting specific ideas (why not benefit from that extra attention) or intentional hiding by blogging on independent servers using first name only.

Whatever the specific choice is, one thing is pretty clear: if you work for a company that deserves even a bit of media attention you forced into making choices on how explicit you want to be about the connection and on how you are going to balance your own blogging voice and public image of your employer.

As for Robert Scoble - I think he figured out how to manage dangerous connections gracefully. I guess his new place will be full of new challenges and new insights.


Also,  an alternative complementary perspective:

We're paying a lot more attention to people, particularly to people speaking in 'open, natural, uncontrived' voices (thank you, Cluetrain), and a lot less attention to companies striving to communicate with us via press releases and other degraded forms of marketing-speak. That's one reason why Scoble was so influential, and it was to Microsoft's credit that they saw the value of bringing him on board and turning him loose. But now that Scoble's gone, he's taking a lot of our attention with him. We'll hardly ignore Microsoft (or their network of 3,000 other bloggers), but Scoble's attention-getting ability made him a star that transcended the company's brand.

[...]more than ever, companies will need people speaking in authentic voices to capture and maintain our attention, and that process will turn those people into stars. The real question is how a company finds the right balance so that our collective attention is divided between their stars and the company itself.

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© Copyright 2002-2006 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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