Paying attention to the post-memo blogs

In the aftermath of the Ray Ozzie and Bill Gates memos and emails I am seeing a few trends in the reaction. Five blogs in particular got my attention:

1) Steve Gillmor’s Don’t Mention It
2) Joshua Porter’s Why Should I Trust Microsoft with My Attention Metadata?
3) Dion Hinchcliffe’s Microsoft Gets Disrupted.
4) Stowe Boyd’s Scoble on Google.
5) Om Malik’s The Bill and Ozzie Show.

First let’s talk about Gillmor’s post. It made me laugh out loud. The “Top Ten Reasons why Dave Winer doesn’t pay attention to attention,” in particular was pretty funny. It’s my favorite post Steve’s done in a while. Mostly cause I’m friends with both Steve and Dave and it takes potshots at me too. Ahh, if you can’t laugh at yourself then there’s probably something wrong.

But, onto the meat. Joshua Porter asks why should he trust Microsoft? Wrong question: I wouldn’t trust anyone. And, it’s exactly why I’m pushing Microsoft to be more open with ALL of its formats and data. The new world is a mashup world. Mashers won’t play with APIs or formats that have limits. And they won’t play with APIs or formats they don’t trust. Joshua shows we have a LOT of work to do to gain even a basic level of trust. I think we can do it. But it’ll require doing things differently. It requires a new level of transparency and openness. It also requires doing services that you give away for free (and that you don’t try to monetize at every damn opportunity).

Along these lines, Dion has a nice chart that shows the disruption underway. Interesting analysis too. Yes, Dion, the stakes are indeed high. But, that’s not a good way to look at this. Disrupters never look at the stakes. They look at what’s fun to do. Steve Wozniak told me he didn’t build his Apple II to disrupt industries. He did it cause it’s fun and cause he wanted one!

Why did I like Memeorandum so much? Cause I wanted something that’d read through all my feeds and tell me what is important. Gabe built Memeorandum for me. That’s disruptive.

Both Om and Stowe think that Microsoft won’t be able to get its act together. That it won’t be able to morph and “get” the new services world.

Maybe not, but see this is where I have some perspective. I have seen this kind of reaction about companies before. And about Microsoft before. I remember when, in 2001-2003 people said Apple was dead. The stock price was at 12. I didn’t think that. I bought about $1,000 worth at 12 (and sold it shortly after I joined Microsoft at 22 — wish I had held that!)

I see tons of people who all believe in this services world and are just waiting to ship interesting stuff. Not only that, but I look at the research division we have here. There’s a treasure trove there waiting to be delivered as great products and services. And then I look at the cash we have. Oh, the cash! There are many Silicon Valley businesses springing up salivating at the idea that Microsoft would get into the acquisition business in a big way (and that Google would too).

And, new things pop out all the time that are damn interesting. just got turned on. It’s an amazing attention engine. I’m definitely going to trust that with my attention! Joshua talks all about that.

One last thing: Joshua, don’t trust us unless we make it win-win for you to do so. If we don’t, shame on us for not listening!


The red poppy

Interesting, today I walked around Microsoft and did some digging for what should be in our next Channel 9 videos and I met Warren Stevens over on the IE team. He’s development lead. But that’s not what’s important. He was wearing a red poppy on his shirt. He told me what that’s all about.

It is a symbol that Canadians (correction: and others) wear around this time of year to remember their war dead. November 11 is Remembrance Day. He recited — from memory — the poem in Flanders Fields. What an emotional poem. My little HTML characters aren’t doing it justice. But Warren did.

After talking with Warren I sauntered out of building 2 along the paths near the soccer fields on Microsoft’s main campus and thinking that I have the best job in the whole wide world. I get to hang out with really great people. And I get to talk about technology and life with them.

And they get to remind me that millions of people have died so that I can have the life I now lead.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the Memeorandum gaming, or the Ray Ozzie memos, and forget that we’re building products for people. And that people build those products.

Thanks Warren for reminding me of what’s important in life. Simply by wearing a red poppy.