TED Jealousy

Ahh, the TED Jealousy leaked out of the blogosphere yesterday. First there was a Twitter fight between Loic Le Meur, Seesmic’s CEO (who was at TED) and Mike Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder (who was not). Then a journalist from BusinessWeek, Sarah Lacy, beat up TED for not being inclusive.

I’ve been there. I used to get jealous when I got locked out of events. Heck, just go back a few days and read my post about living a FOOCamp life.

But yesterday I had revenge: I went to Bil.

And next week I’ll have revenge again: I’m going to BarCamp.

See, I don’t get why people complain about being locked out of events. TED is giving us all an opportunity: create our own experiences that are more interesting than those on the floor of TED *and* more open!

Yesterday one of the TED attendees started bragging about how great going to TED was.

I answered “sounds great, but yesterday I hung out with Annie Leibovitz instead.” That ended the bragging, although having Robin Williams in front of you does sound pretty damn cool.

Anyway, why are bloggers and journalists jealous? I think Mike Arrington had some deep transparency with this comment on this Twitter: “regarding TED attacks – I defame anything cool that ignores me, until it stops doing so. it’s worked so far.”

Seriously: bloggers and journalists live and die by having access to stories and storymakers. Anytime there’s a gathering of executives we know there are potential stories, so we want to go.

If locked out (TED doesn’t invite many journalists, only letting a handful in and those who go have to agree to a lot of rules) then bloggers and journalists start feeling jealous of those who do get to go. We’re a competitive bunch, because if someone else is getting the stories then those locked out feel beaten.

But that’s based on a false premise: that only rich and powerful people can create stories.

I’ve found that’s not true. Sarah and Mike, you could have come to Bil. Why didn’t you? There were lots of geeks showing off lots of toys. There were even speakers who have spoken at TED. More videos from yesterday here and here.

One thing, though, TED does have the best badges (video shows why).

So, Sarah and Mike, will you be at the Barcamp at SXSW? Or, you gonna keep complaining about events that lock people out?

Hey, maybe the three of us should do an event the way we think it should be done? Imagine if Fast Company, BusinessWeek, and TechCrunch collaborated on an event. Wouldn’t that turn up something interesting?

The Offline Wars about to heat up?

Ryan Stewart (who works at Adobe) wonders if Microsoft is bringing an offline version of Silverlight out this week at Mix.

I’m hearing that Google is about to ship something major offline too.

So, for the next month we might hear “go offline” from all three camps (Adobe already shot their big guns in this war at last week’s “Engage” event).

Microsoft should have the best offline technology, because it’s king of applications on your desktop, but I think that answers the wrong question.

I’m trying to get everything I do online because I want freedom from my computer.

What do I mean about that?

Well, what if my computer gets stolen? I don’t want any data on it.

What happens if Linux comes out with a Macintosh killer? Or if I decide to get a Windows computer again (I’m currently using a Dell Tablet PC because they sent me one to try out) I want to just load one thing: Firefox and go to work. Right now I’m switching between my Dell and my Mac without any problems at all because almost everything I do now is in the browser.

The thing about Microsoft is that they’ll do some killer offline technology but it won’t work on the Symbian cell phone or iPhones that I’m currently using. It won’t work on Android, which is the Google cell phone OS that’s soon to make an impact on the market. It won’t work on Linux (which is getting a LOT better on the desktop, so I might try that again this year). And it won’t work well on Firefox or Opera or other new, non-IE browsers. (Channel 9 doesn’t work well with Silverlight on my new Dell when I use Firefox 3.0beta3, while Flash and AIR work just fine).

So, I guess the question is: can Microsoft keep the world as it is (IE, one that mostly runs on Windows and Office) or will the world follow bleeding-edge users like me into a more online world?

Has Microsoft caught up to Google in search?

Barney Pell, CEO of Powerset (a company that’s building a new kind of search engine) tells me that Microsoft has caught up to Google in search relevancy (he was at the Bil conference yesterday). There are companies that are paid to track such things and he’s been watching their reports.

That made me realize that I haven’t tried a search over on Microsoft’s Live.com lately.

It also might explain why Microsoft wants to purchase Yahoo.

After all, let’s say that it’s correct that Microsoft is about to pass Google in relevancy. Would anyone switch? No. Not until they demonstrate that Microsoft is dramatically better than Google.

But, what if they combined Yahoo and Microsoft’s search result quality? And put Yahoo’s brand name on it?

Now I am starting to understand a little why this merger makes Google nervous (at least publicly).

I just don’t believe the relevancy reports, though. I did a single search on something I know about, CERN, and Google’s list is more useful and more relevant than Microsoft’s. Plus, I know how to pull things back out of Google that I’ve written on my blog. In my experience Microsoft’s engine isn’t nearly as good at that task, which will keep any blogger from singing Microsoft’s praises.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Google is just so embedded in my brain that I don’t know what Microsoft could do.

Of course then I look at Mahalo and Wikipedia and I see exactly what I’d do if I were running the search team at Microsoft.

But, instead, Microsoft is going to waste billions of dollars trying to buy a better brand name than it already has.

Maybe Microsoft should just fire its marketing department and start rebuilding its brands from the ground up. Take a 10-year approach. That’d STILL be cheaper than $40 billion.

Oh, well. Yet another thing to ask Microsoft executives at Mix this week.

"Wait until you see what Ray Ozzie is doing"

I left Microsoft almost two years ago and even before I left I heard “wait until you see what Ray Ozzie is doing.” For two years I’ve checked in occassionally with his team to see if they are ready and for two years I’ve heard silence.

So, now it looks like they are going to bring out their Web Services strategy at Mix this week.

I have some questions, though.

1. My wife’s blog is on Microsoft’s Live Spaces and it’s always been slow, slow, slow. So, why should we believe that Microsoft’s new Web Services are going to be fast, fast, fast?
2. Hotmail doesn’t work very well on non-Internet Explorer browsers. So, why should we believe that Microsoft’s new Web Services are going to be really standards based?
3. When I left Microsoft very few employees focused their work on the Internet. In fact, the day I left I read all of Bill Gates’ Thinkweek papers. Only about 10% had anything to do with Internet stuff and only a small fraction of those had anything to do with Web Services. So, why should we believe that Microsoft’s smartest people are focused on this effort?
4. When I’ve gotten a look into Google’s data centers I see they are outstripping Microsoft’s efforts everywhere. Google even builds its own disk drivers to optimize the speed at which data gets taken off of those Seagate drives (I only saw Seagate drives in the data center I got into. Disclaimer: Seagate is now sponsoring my show on FastCompany.tv) and put into your browser. Microsoft, however, relies on outside developers to build much of the drivers that run its equipment. So, why should be believe that Microsoft will build infrastructure that can beat that of Google or Amazon? (Thanks to open source, Google rolls much of its innovative work in infrastructure back into Linux, which is open to other data center providers, like those you see running Amazon’s Web Services).
5. Internet services, when new, are almost always brittle. Remember eBay in its early days? It was down for two days straight. Lately? We haven’t heard a story like that about eBay in many years. Amazon and Google have had Web Services running for years now and, while they still have an occassional burp, are fairly robust and are reliable. Many businesses are now getting to the point where they trust these services to stay up. Why should be believe that Microsoft’s new services will stay up under load?

If Ray Ozzie can answer these questions then the world might start paying attention. Either way, looks like it’s a good thing I’m going to Mix.