Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Sunday, May 19, 2002

Thanks Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor and Dave Winer for keeping us up to date on the sordid Hollywood tale of how Hollywood is treating me like a criminal even before I actually copy one of their movies or music files.
John Robb: Essay on the new economy.
This is a good list of how companies can compete with Microsoft. I'd add "look for an area where Microsoft is gonna be asleep for at least 30 months." Netscape found the Web browser. AOL found instant messaging. Real found streaming media. You'll need at least 30 months to get enough market momentum going before Microsoft starts aiming its big guns at you. You'll also want to make your money and get out before then.

How do you get going fast? Bootstrap. Start with a small audience and grow as fast as you possibly can. ICQ's founders started on November 1, 1996 with 40 users. Today ICQ has been downloaded more than a hundred million times. That's how you beat Microsoft.

I should explain my position on what's attracting me to the Macintosh platform. Developers have started supporting that platform in a major way. Where am I coming from? I used to be a Macintosh user (well, religious wacko would be more like it). That was 1988 to 1993. Then I switched to Windows NT (now XP). The OS is fine, to tell you the truth. It does everything it's supposed to do and I'm averaging a crash less than once per month right now, which is good.

But, all my friends on the OS X platform keep showing me great little utilities and other things that are being released almost daily. What happened? Apple embraced Unix and by doing that Apple embraced developers.

Why? There's a lot of Unix expertese out there. Lots of kids learned Unix in school. Lots more learned it on the job. Now Apple has joined a nice user interface with Unix, and developers are taking notice.

Apple also doesn't have the baggage that Microsoft does. Lots of my friends keep asking me "aren't you scared of Microsoft controlling the world?" Or "aren't you scared that Microsoft will make a deal with the government and Hollywood to control what you do on your computer?"

I look inside and I sense that Microsoft already is controlling my world and that they've already made deals with Hollywood and the government.

Microsoft exists for one reason now: to get bigger so it can justify a higher stock price to its shareholders.

When I got into Microsoft, I saw that Gates and group was genuinely concerned with making computing life better for regular people like you and me.

Today, I'm not so sure (most of my friends are definitely sure that Microsoft isn't looking out for them anymore).

Can Microsoft turn that perception around? I believe they can, but they've gotta want to do it. For one, I would have fired their PR company long ago (Waggener Edstrom is it). No company in the modern world has done a worse PR job for its client than WaggEd has done. But, I'm sure WaggEd would say "well, that's cause Gates tells us what to do."

There's probably a lot of truth to that, but the fact is that Microsoft has -- by far -- the worst PR in the business. And, while Gates gets 85% of the blame, 15% of the blame does end up on the PR professionals at Microsoft.

But changing PR firms wouldn't be good enough. That'll only solve 15% of the problem. The other 85% of the problem is that Microsoft's management has taken a hostile view of customers. Jim Allchin sees that we're all ripping him off, so he puts in activation codes. His Hollywood buddies see that we're ripping them off, so they put in digital rights management stuff. At the same time MSN views me as a pair of eyeballs to be "monetized" so they put spam and ads and other intrustive marketing techniques into my life.

Oh, and Microsoft views its developers, not as partners who will help give users like me better products, but as "warriors" who must be convinced to not use Java.

This is not the world I wanted to see come about. I should be able to buy a CD, turn it into digital files on my computer, and carry those files around with me. Soon, if this industry keeps going, I'm just gonna be marked as a criminal and I won't be able to use my own property the way I'd like. Hell, I just took a really cool picture of a surfer in Hawaii. Imagine the day when it'd be impossible for me to share that with you because of the deals Microsoft and other companies are making (and what our government is putting into law).

Well, I'd really be shaking in my boots, but I know the history of Silicon Valley enough to know that if this industry tries something like that then one of the smart folks in the valley will give us a way around it.

Guess what, Weblogs are the distribution medium. Can the government shut all of us down? No way. There's not enough resources in even Gates or Bush's war chests to figure out how to shut down all the Web sites in the world.

There's a coming intellectual property battle, and I know who'll win. Webloggers. We're like ants. You can try to kill us, but we'll keep coming at you.

I just wish Microsoft would get on our side and stop treating me like vermin. Eventually I'm gonna get the message and go use another product. There's not THAT much to like about Windows XP.

Peter Rutten: "I mourn too, in private, for how the media and the assassin have damaged Dutch democracy. And I wonder why these two, the media and the assassins, always seem to go hand in hand, no matter where in the world you look these days."

Well, in journalism school we had a saying "if it bleeds it leads." (ie, if there's bloodshed involved it'll be the lead story).

It's human nature. We love seeing tragedy. How many people slow down on the freeway at a wreck? Journalists are there for the ratings. They give you the wreck.

If, all of a sudden, people slowed down and started going to city council meetings, the media would cover that too.

A friend today told me "you're always on the lookout for the next mass media thing." That's true. I'm always looking for the next Krispy Kreme, or Apple, or story. That's how journalists (and many webloggers) think.

And, I gotta tell you, there is no bigger story than when someone important to you or your society is killed.

That's the media reality and it ain't gonna change anytime soon.

And, I disagree that America isn't a melting pot. At least here in Silicon Valley we're all mixing together. I'm spending a lot of time lately in a culture that isn't white, doesn't speak English (mostly), and is from a country with Muslim religious beliefs. If you don't believe there's mixing going on, you're severely deluded and not looking at the facts. Yes, people try to keep their cultures going when they get here, but that's a losing battle. Within three generations most of their crazy beliefs are mixed in with others here. I see it almost every night with my own eyes.

I love the salad that is getting created here. It's what's making us strong. I know, though, that a lot of Americans don't share my view. They'd like to go back to a simpler day when white Americans didn't need to deal too much with black ones and when it was perfectly OK to lock up an Asian-looking fellow during the war.

Too bad.

Oh, great, as if my Hotmail account didn't get enough spam already. Has anyone noticed that Microsoft just does not care about public relations? Has Microsoft done a single thing in the past two years for a positive public relations spin (note: I define "postitive public relations spin" as doing something for your customers, not giving free copies of your software to schools so you can take over another market)? Why is that? I think that Bill Gates assumes that Microsoft can and will remain number one no matter what it does against its customers and no matter how its customers perceive it.

You know, I'm probably the last guy in Silicon Valley that is still trying to put a positive spin on Microsoft and I tell you that job just gets harder and harder to do every day.

I miss the Microsoft who did things +for+ users rather than +against+ them.

Something has switched at Microsoft from a company that tries to add features to one that tries to "monetize" its users and treats its developers as a strategic asset.

You know, I am noticing a lot more Macintosh computers lately. Yes, Microsoft has a small investment in Apple, but at least we don't see Apple trying so hard to be anti customer lately.

I'm still studying the Digital Rights Management stance of the computer industry but I'm seeing just a whole new level of contempt of users by Microsoft (and other companies too, but particularly Microsoft). As a Microsoft adherent (I, unlike other people who are bashing Microsoft, love Windows XP and am a strong supporter of its products) I'm getting tired of hearing decision after decision and interview after interview of sentiment that's anti customer.

We're coming into huge battles over Digital Rights Management and copyrights and patents and I am slowly getting the opinion that Microsoft won't be on my side in these battles (and that's too bad, because they should be since it's people like me who've gotten Microsoft where it is today).

So, Microsoft, when are you going to start explaining what you're doing to help people like me do things better? You've done a dreadful job of:

1) Coming out with new technologies that improve my life (at least in the past six months).

2) Explaining what you did come out with (does anyone really understand .NET?)

Why doesn't Microsoft have any emails from its executives saying "let's put this feature in because it'll make life better for our customers" rather than "let's put this feature in because it'll make life tougher for our competitors?" or "let's put this feature in because Java developers will be drawn to it?"

Not that Sun or Oracle are doing any better, mind you. I haven't seen them do anything for desktop users lately either. They just want to fuck me by making it easier for corporate IT folks to manage me. Heh.

Oh, am I waiting for a big company to make life easier for me? Yeah, right. I keep hoping. Apple sure has caught stride with its user base again. I haven't seen much negative PR come out of Apple lately, and a whole lot of cool new products. Apple isn't perfect, to be sure, but at least I see them doing stuff that's interesting and they are going in the right direction.

While I'm on my SOAP box, what the hell is Microsoft doing with FrontPage and Internet Explorer? Is Internet development dead at Microsoft? Has Microsoft stopped believing in the Internet now that Microsoft believes it owns the Internet once again?

The silence from Microsoft's product planners is deafening and getting louder.

Oh, great, now Al-Qaida is supposed to come after American apartments, or so the latest rumor goes. (I'm living in an apartment on Winchester Blvd in San Jose).

Are they going to set up security stations so I have to take off my shoes every time I go home? Just like in the airports?

See, this is what's stupid about over securing the planes. Not only do you waste everyone's time, but they'll just go after a different target next time.

You know, a truck filled with fertilizer and diesel fuel can pretty much destroy any building. And you don't need to be an Al-Qaida member to know that. A white-boy American (remember Tim McVeigh) showed us all how to do that, even if you didn't know how to use Google to look up how to make a bomb.

The only way we'll catch the bad guys next time is to be on the alert ourselves. It's sure that the FBI and CIA won't catch these folks. I'll bet it's a common citizen who notices a weird truck rental. Or a weird neighbor who moves in next door.

Personally, if I was Bin Laden, why would I blow up an apartment? If I really had that ability I'd pick something more significant than an apartment full of lower to middle class folks. I won't give them any ideas, but I can think of a ton of targets that would piss off Americans a whole lot more than taking down an apartment building (yeah, an apartment building would piss us off, but think about it, there are far more impactful targets out there).

The Focus on Bush Bugs Me

Everyone is ganging up on President Bush now asking "When did he know about the plans, and what did he know?"

Even if he knew about the plans, what did you expect him to say or do? Shut down all the airports on an assumed threat? Give me a break. Americans wouldn't have gone for that.

I'm so sick of politics and how we treat politicians. We're so hypocritical. We don't listen to what they have to say anyway, and then we get on Bush for not saying something that would have possibly freaked everyone out.

A politician nowadays has very few chances to convince the public to do something. Why waste such a chance on a vague threat?

Hey, I know that there's a possibility that a terrorist could blow up this apartment building that I'm living in.

Hell, there's a possibility that I'll win the lottery too.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 1:36:01 AM.