Friday, May 21, 2004

Gates on blogging

OK.. I just couldn't let this one go... I tried.. really I did. Seems Bill is talking up blogging to top CEOs. This will either be great for many companies (especially technology driven companies)... or not. According to Gates:


"Another new phenomenon that connects into this is one that started outside of the business space, more in the corporate or technical enthusiast space, a thing called blogging. And a standard around that that notifies you that something has changed called RSS."

and

"Another big phenomenon is building communities around Web sites, around products. And virtually every company ought to have on their Web site the ability for their customers, their suppliers, various people, to interact and their employees to see the dialogue taking place there and jump in and talk to them and help them"


On the surface it is great that a well respected (or reviled) industry luminary, is pushing the idea of corporate blogging. Borland is certainly dipping its toe into the blogging waters and MS is going gangbusters into blogging. The good thing about widespread corporate blogging is that it can certainly help dispel all those various rumors and conspiracy theories about some corporate hidden agenda. Guess what, in general, all for-profit corporations have that one "hidden" agenda... make money, increase shareholder value, rise above the competition, etc... By a company condoning widespread blogging by its employees, it can become more transparent and visible to the customers. In other words put on a happy face.

Now what about the "or not" mentioned in my opening sentence? This is where my cynical side comes in. Especially in light of the recent announcements of JBoss sandbagging the public forums with corporate shills. The potential for abuse is certainly there. Just like any new tool or technology, there are those that would like to approach it from a much darker angle. Email opened up a new form communication that has now so permeated our society, that even your great-grandmother has an email address. Now every time you go to read your email, you cringe at the sight of countless offers for improving your sexual prowess, that $0 down 0% home mortgage, or that self-described hotty, Bambi wants to meet you. Email is now a marginalized commodity. A necessary "evil." While I don't necessarily see there being this huge rise is "blog spam," it has already started with RSS feeds. What if a company were to "commission" groups of individuals to start blogging without the appearance that they are company employees, or they use pseudonyms? What if several employees started doing it on their own and the company simply looked the other way while those employees spread FUD about a competitor and made libelous statements?

For now, blogging is in the "innocence" phase of its development. Just like email and the internet itself was "young and innocent" at one time.