Jim Fawcette (my old boss and the guy who is very responsible for me being here today) recently posted something I just ran across (I don’t read his feeds cause they are partial text). Anyway, he was trying to make a point that Microsoft is practicing great PR (in an evil way). Pretty usual “the PR committee is using bloggers” kind of stuff until he got to this paragraph:
“A great example of astroturfing is an internal blog by a paid PR person that ostensibly criticizes Microsoft. The business press has lapped this up. I’m not criticising either Microsoft or the blog. It’s brillant! But let’s not pretend it is something it is not. This isn’t open criticism; it’s a distraction, like what magicians do to keep your eye off the real trick, or a pressure release value on a steam cooker.
“The paid, semi-critical blog distracts people from forming a nexus around an external blog, or from reading real, insightful, internal criticism of Microsoft, such as mini-Microsoft or Joel Splosky (with his great piece on How Microsoft Lost the API Wars). Check them out if you want criticism with more bite than gums.”
Now this sounds a lot like he’s talking about me. Oh, great, I alone am saving the world from harsh Microsoft criticism! Ouch!
But, let’s look at Jim’s claim a little deeper.
First, I was blogging before Mini (Joel, though, has been blogging longer than me) and I was hired before he started, or before Joel posted his famous API War piece. I was also one of the first bloggers to link to either of those. And, my employee goals state nothing about trying to keep people from paying attention to negative PR about Microsoft. Which, might explain why I’m not in the PR department.
Speaking of which, yesterday was my fifth “blogging birthday.” I started blogging December 15, 2000.
By the way, according to Bloglines, Joel Spolsky’s API War blog has 695 links. Now, quick, find a post of mine that has that many links. Even my most linked to post, my Corporate Weblogger Manifesto, has only been linked to 280 times. So, if I were supposed to keep people from reading Joel’s post, I have failed, and failed miserably.
It gets worse (or better, depending on how you’re following this).
When I visited Microsoft Ireland a couple of weeks ago and got a tour with my camcorder, every employee there said they read Mini. Most of the .NET user group members there said they read Mini. He’s been in Business Week (on the cover even!) And his posts get many times more comments than mine do. So, on the face of it, Jim Fawcette’s claims just don’t hold up to scrutiny.
So, if it’s Microsoft’s goal to keep you from reading those who disagree with Microsoft in some way, I’m failing miserably.
But, that’s not my goal. Thankfully. My goal is to listen to them, have a conversation with them, and see where we can improve.
Here’s some other posts asking Microsoft to improve.
Ed Bott is asking for Microsoft to open up its Office 12 NDAs. I’ll talk to the team about that. I think NDAs are often too restrictive and are ultimately counterproductive.
Kim Greenlee wants Microsoft to explain more clearly what the differences are between all the MSDN Subscriptions and the Visual Studio 2005 Team Editions are.
James Governor is worrying about what Microsoft will do with DRM in the future. Don’t worry, James, I’d quit if Microsoft ever put a kill code that it could call in your software like that.
Vinit Carpenter wrote a review of domains.live.com but wants us to remove the restrictions with the usage of Outlook.
Anyone else have anything that they want Microsoft to improve?