Allchin blogger dinner heats up with DRM and Vista conversation

It’s funny, but this is the second time I’ve arranged a dinner for Jim Allchin that I haven’t been able to attend. The dinner was last night and I hear it was a real interesting one.

Why? Cause I got a diverse set of people in to meet with Jim. Not just fanboys. Well, not unless you call a developer of the open source browser Flock a Microsoft fanboy. Or, if you call Mena Trott, founder of Six Apart (which is hosted on Linux) a Microsoft fanboy. Heh, that’s pretty funny!

Beth Goza of Linden Labs was there. Tara Hunt of Riya. John Tokash of Homestead Technologies. Tony Gentile of Healthline. And Phillip Torrone of Make Magazine.

John Tokash’s report is here.
Tara Hunt’s report is here.
Thomas Hawk’s report is here. Great photos too (Thomas is quite talented with his camera, I love his blog lately mostly because of his photos).

How did I pick these people? They are people I’d want to have dinner with myself! I think it’s funny that Tara felt out of place at the beginning. I hear she gave Allchin a good dose of her thoughts on DRM. Sounds exactly why she was invited! (I knew she’d do that, cause she has always been interesting to talk with when I’ve met her).

More on edge cases

Liz Lawley was the one who said I was an edge case and has more on her blog about why she said that. (I didn’t realize until now that it was her, I just heard the voice in the back of the room and didn’t know who said it).

She says: “Someone who reads 840 blogs is an edge case.”

Here, let’s look at it another way. Do you ever go to Google News? That’s showing something like 10,000 news sources. So, you gonna call everyone an edge case who reads 10,000 news sources?

Or a newspaper. How many stories does the average newspaper have? So someone who spends two hours reading the New York Times on Sunday is an “edge case?” He would have been 200 years ago. Only the richest and most powerful in society had access (or thought they needed access) to that.

Or, look at Memeorandum. Gabe says he’s now added tons of new bloggers to his system. Thousands. So, when you read Memeorandum are you reading one page? Or thousands of blogs? Are you an edge case?

Yeah, maybe you won’t read 840 feeds in a feed-by-feed folder approach like I do, but there will certainly be millions of people reading TONS of stuff.

But, it’s more of a general sensitivity to the term “edge case.” I’ve been called that a lot over my career. I was called that in 1977 when I was among only five people at my Jr. high to hang out in the new computer lab. How many personal computer users came after me? Most — I got a tour of Apple computer when it was one small building in Cupertino back then. I heard it in the late 80s when I was a Mac evangelist. The IT guys at both West Valley and San Jose State University told me that no one needed those “toy computers” with menus and mice. Real computer users used command line. I heard it in the late 90s when I had the first Web site for ICQ (Yossi Vardi says I was first, anyway, and he was the guy who funded it). Hundreds of millions of people followed me. I was the first guy to show Internet Explorer on TechTV. Lots of my friends were Netscape advocates and thought that IE would never be successful in the marketplace. I’ve been a Tablet PC advocate for years and derided over and over for that, but now we’re starting to see sizeable commercial success. Yeah, Bob Sampson, I can’t live without mine either. I guess Bob and I are edge cases.

But, Liz has a good point. What’s the difference between early adopters and trend analyzers and “edge cases?” Well, when it comes to RSS I was pretty early (not as early as, say, Dave Winer, though, but I was using it before the New York Times was). RSS is gonna be very popular. Why? Cause we want our information to come WHERE WE WANT IT. But, how many of you will read 840 feeds? A LOT. But not in the way I’m doing it.

Here, go to Technorati. Do a search on “Liz Lawley.” Now, watch how long it takes for this post to get into the search engine there. Are you reading one feed or millions? (I’d argue you’re reading millions by doing that).

Or, back to Memeorandum. You do realize that Gabe started with my list of feeds, right? Gabe turned my reading behavior into an algorithm. So, welcome to my world of being an edge case! :-)

Really, I sensed a tone of “don’t listen to Scoble cause he’s a weirdo.” You can take that tack. But it’s no way for a big company to run. Today’s weirdo is tomorrow’s trillion dollar business. Just ask Steve Wozniak. His bosses at HP and Atari told him he was an edge case. Someone to be ignored.

Yoav Shapira has some comments about my edge case comment too that you should check his post out (he has links to a bunch of other news stuff too, including news from Search Champs yesterday).

Finally, Michael Bazzoni asked himself “what’s an edge case?” and found some interesting stuff.

Update: some of my friends have emailed me and said “give it a break” and then explained that I am taking too much personal offense. Oh, I see the disconnect. I’m NOT talking about my ego here. I’ve been called far worse than an “edge case” before.

I took so much umbrage because we were talking about FEATURES and not about my ego.

See, when someone says “you’re an edge case” in a discussion about FEATURES what they really are saying is that your feature request isn’t important. That’s bullshit.

All of today’s features started out as edge cases. Developers even have a name for that. It’s called “scratching your own itch.”

And, I know dozens of other people who read hundreds of feeds.

See, if you don’t plan your product for the edge cases it’ll suck. Why is Photoshop so good, for instance? Because they made it for professional photographers. Someone could have said “anyone who needs a histogram is an edge case.” They would be right. Very few photographers need histograms. But Photoshop was designed for edge cases. Why is that important? Cause everyone is an edge case sometime.

New MSN Spaces and other stuff

Nice to see the new MSN Spaces. I’ll ask Maryam what she thinks. Dare Obasanjo (who works on that team) links to the relevant details.

Most people don’t know who Dare’s dad is, by the way. His dad is the president of Nigeria. The other day Dare’s dad joked around with Bill Gates at Davos.

Microsoft’s new VP of HR, Lisa Brummel is on Channel 9 (Jennifer Ritzinger and Charles Torre interview her). She is just the coolest person. That’s what leadership looks like. Take on the tough issues head on. My coworkers have gone to her “listening tour” and have come away impressed. She asked bloggers to “be productive” when criticizing. Totally agree. Yesterday I was talking with some Search Champs about corporate blogging (they are trying to figure out how to improve their own companies). I told them that they should take risks, but always have a goal in mind that you can communicate to other people. Many of the people fired for blogging, when I’ve talked with them afterward, had no good reason to mouth off. No goal that they were trying to push the company toward.

I was talking with David Anderson (our Agile blogger) and Martin Geddes (who writes the awesome Telepocalypse blog about the telecom industry — they both used to work for Sprint together) about changes they tried to implement at Sprint and how tough that was. Martin now is a consultant and we talked about the problems Microsoft is facing and how we’d like to use our blogs to help change.

Me? I’m refocusing on small things internally (small teams that are kicking ass) and pointing outward to cool stuff elsewhere. I’ve noticed that is the behavior that most helps my goal. What’s my goal? I’m a geek and want cool new technologies that make my life better.

For example, early this morning I woke up and talked with Adomo CEO Jeff Snider and SVP Andy Feit. They have a really interesting phone system for corporations. Most people when I show them the features we have at Microsoft say “I wish my company had those.” Things like when you call our main switchboard number you can just say my name and you’ll get put right through to me without waiting for a human to pick up. Or, if you hit my voice mail box it records your voice mail and sends that to me as email (which I can then get on my phone). Really cool stuff. Anyway, Adomo does the same thing for companies. They sell a box that you put in your telecom closet that gives you all those features and more.