How to further blow something out of proportion

I just read Rick Segal‘s post The Anatomy of Noise (link originally both from Scoble’s blog and Winer’s blog). This whole thread starts with Amit Malhotra quoting Steve Ballmer as saying RSS isn’t the end all and be all (it’s actually not). It escalates with Dave Winer saying:

Ballmer, Ballmer, Ballmer, just when I was beginning to think that Microsoft possibly saw the benefit in working with the rest of the world, he sprays a thick coat of FUD on RSS.

Too simple? Feh.

Scoble responds in his normal jovial way. At this point, I figured things were pretty much over. It wasn’t that interesting to begin with. It only really got interesting with Rick Segal’s post. I first want to point out a fallacy with Rick’s logic. Rick says:

1. Somebody writes something they heard from CEO. Not verified yet.

2. Still unverified, employee comments and cranks it up a notch. That’s strictly my opinion of Scoble’s comments regarding what Ballmer knew, who he talked, and the witty ‘come on channel 9’ invite. You have to read it and be your own judge of his style.

This is missing an important key step. Dave Winer, who’s well read, pointed everyone to Amit’s post (I believe he got it via Steve Rubel, who’s also well read, to give credit where credit’s due). At this point, there’s no controlling the conversation. People like me, who aren’t incredibly well read (I’m much more watched than read), could link to this and add the same commentary as Dave Winer and not receive close to the same reaction. At this point, Scoble has to respond, or everyone’s going to be having a conversation about Microsoft without anyone from Microsoft being involved at all. In the zero day PR world of the blogosphere, if you’re not out there responding, you’re much more likely to take a huge hit than if you can help be part of the conversation, especially if you’ve got someone like Robert Scoble out there writing for you.

And finally, I’d like to point out that this conversation, which I had been following, was largely uninteresting up until this point. The only reason it even reached the point where Robert Scoble was interested was because of Dave Winer’s personal attachment to anyone’s comments where someone might insinuate that RSS isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. In my opinion, Ballmer misses the simplicity point of RSS, but I think he responds the same way any CEO should, with moderation. Rick could have chosen a dozen other interesting conversations from Robert in the last month alone to choose, but I think he chose this one because of his obvious attachment to Dave Winer. His analysis throughout the entire article is tempered by obvious admiration for Dave, and I think attempting to pass off defending your friend as an objective analysis of the dangers of “Corporate Blogging” and transparency is shameful. I’m obviously defending Robert here, but I’m at least being honest about my intentions.

Also, in my defense, if you made it this far, I just read all of Scoble’s post (I originally clicked on the link to Rick’s post and started my response) and I see he said a lot of what I’ve said here. It’s 4 AM, my points are valid, and I don’t feel like rewriting. Sorry if it seems as if I’m just toeing the Scoble line, but I actually did write this stuff without reading his first.


4 Comments on “How to further blow something out of proportion”

  1. Rick Segal says:

    Hi Clint,
    I read your post and wanted to point out a couple of things. First, the seq. of events didn’t have Dave’s comment in it as step two, good point. The order in which I read stuff was Robert’s blog, then Amit’s via the link in Robert’s post, then I started working on the post which really was focused on the corporate blogging issue. I’m a VC with no investment in ANT/RSS/XML stuff so I really don’t have a technology agenda.

    With respect to Dave, I thought I busted him on the FUD comment, regardless of liking/not liking the guy.

    I chose this posting from Robert because it was interesting to me. No real agenda. I didn’t pick it to defend RSS or Dave, that boy is clearly able to defend himself. I thought I was clear in saying that I liked the guy and have met up but maybe saying I’m a fan so read what follows with that filter would be better. But, that’s okay, your response/post is just further data for people to read and study as blogs get ‘mainstream.’

    Back when newsgroups started to have feeds from compuserve/aol/etc, there were all kinds of ‘newbies’ flying around and the old guard was up in arms while some offered suggestions. Remember all the people telling all the newbies all caps = shouting? Then there was email and people finally, after years, starting to realize text conversations with missing personal expressions can take on a meanings never intended.

    These days, it’s blogs and like the old days, bloggers will have to settle into a set of norms that will get all of this stuff in balance over time.

    I think “shameful” is a bit much but if you assume I’m acting as a Winer shill, I can see your point. But look at the bright side. Until heading over here, I had no idea what ant publishing was, so there you go, another person taking a look.

    Thanks for the commentary, it was an interesting read.

  2. Clint Sharp says:

    Rick,

    I was probably a bit harsh on you on the shameful thing. However, the way I read your post seemed very much like you were just amplifying Winer’s perspective. You are correct about busting Dave on the FUD thing, and I should have probably given you more credit for that. I think you had some very valid points as well. Glad to see VCs getting into the blogger game. There’s so much mystery surrounding the VC world that anybody who’s out there talking about it will definitely help to dispell the myths. As an entrepeneurial guy, I’m excited to see this. I’ve also read your two follow up posts, and I’m subscribed now. I think more often than not, the business side of blogging is sorely neglected, and I think your post on Dodge and customer service was very insightful.

  3. when I said that the comments were not verbatim, it did not mean that steve may or may not have said those. It just means the exact wording was not probably not the same – I was just being polite! The key points are all valid including steve’s assertion that RSS was too simple and the rest of the answers – I have also had this double check with some peers in the conf. In fact I have a feeling that the reason we have not seen transcripts (I saw people taking notes and a video too) is perhaps they are less flattering.
    In Scoble’s defense, I have met him and spoken to him about RSS(enterprise) in the past, so I am sure he gave me the benefit of doubt in that the Q&A was a valid conversation.
    Steve was in a partner/CEO level forum where he was talking about billion $ opportunities that microsoft was investing in .. and perhaps did not really want to draw too much attention to emerging tech – though I was surprised why he went on to dis RSS and talk further about web services and better stuff…
    amit – at – well – dt – com


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