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Permanent link to archive for Sunday, July 01, 2001. Sunday, July 01, 2001

Dan Gillmor: Freedom from Microsoft. "I probably wouldn't switch entirely to free software even if I could. The profit motive has produced some excellent products. I want to continue to support non-Microsoft developers who produce competitive products, even as I support the community of volunteers."

Luke Tymowski: "I resolved long ago to free myself from Microsoft's clutches at home." Excellent piece. The first step towards reinvigorating the software industry is to review software. Software developers used to live by the reviews.

An easy to use module for Apache that implements Microsoft-Free-Fridays. Nice!

Now an Ole and Lena joke. Ole and Lena were on a trip and had a little quarrel along the way. As they passed a farm, Lena spotted a jackass grazing along the fence. Calling Ole's attention to it, she asked, "Relative of yours?" "Of course," said Ole. "By marriage."

Larry Staton Jr: "Freedom is a grand thing."

In the Online Journalism Review piece on inexpensive content management, the author says Radio is "in an extended beta state." We always are working on new versions of our products, and that's certainly true of Radio, but the current release of Radio, 7.0.1, is not a beta. I received an email from Dori Smith yesterday saying she had read that Radio is in beta. It's not true.

NY Times: "Mr. McGeady said the company told him that if he cooperated with the investigation he would be fired."

The Scoble Story Permanent link to 'The Scoble Story' in archives.

I sent an email yesterday to two contacts at Microsoft to find out what if anything happened from their side in the silencing of Scoble's site.

A hypothetical story.. "I know how to press his button," a random person at Microsoft says. A phone call is made, or an email is sent, it doesn't have to say much, and someone loses their job. In the current economic environment that's a lot of power.

I think it's a pretty common thing for people who work at companies that depend on Microsoft, as Scoble's employer does. Send me email if you've seen that happen. I've already gotten a few.

Do you run a weblog in your spare time, and worry what happens if your employer sees what you're writing? Does your company do business with Microsoft in any way, or hope to? How would your CEO react if he or she got a call from "Microsoft" saying that they have trouble working with your company as long as this weblog is running? How would you choose between your blog and your job?

A common Microsoft defense is that this is how our industry works, but it's not much of a defense, even though it's true. In the early 90s a manager at Apple called UserLand and asked to speak to the person in charge. I was out of the office, and so was the general manager of the company at the time, so this person talked with one of our support people and explained how the relationship between UserLand and Apple was compromised by the things Dave Winer says. She tried to explain to him that I own the company and that she couldn't discipline me, but he kept right on going. But what if I had not been in such a solid position in my own company? In other words, I've seen it happen, first-hand.

I have so much to say about this. How do I reconcile the fact that I know people who have integrity who work at Microsoft with the unethical way the company participates in the software industry? How do they reconcile it? It's flattering when a person who works at such a big and famous company thinks your opinion matters. But then the smoking guns come out in a court case, how do the honest people at Microsoft reconcile it or compartmentalize it? If you work at Microsoft, does it mean anything that your company has been convicted of breaking the law, repeatedly? Have you ever sent an email telling Bill and Steve that you can't stand working at a company who has so little respect for people who develop for, support and use their products? Why is Microsoft so important that it is the cultural gatekeeper? And what did Scoble do to so offend Microsoft? He didn't say they did anything wrong and what if he had? That's just someone's opinion.

These are all important questions to consider as Microsoft tries to grow into a new space where they will have, if they are successful, a lot more control over the information that flows between people. If they abuse the power now, what do we have to look forward to in the future? Never has their motto, Where do you want to go today?, been more relevant.

One more note. In all the years I've been a critic of Microsoft, and have worked collaboratively with Microsoft, they have never threatened me, or anyone who works for me, or any investor in my company. It has never happened. In my experience, Microsoft is the exemplar of good humor in face of blistering criticism. That I enjoy such a special position tells you something about the heart of Microsoft -- there is one. But this spirit of generosity doesn't seem to apply to many others.

(On the other hand there are powerful people, not at Microsoft, who respond less generously to criticism, even when it's delivered with a soft touch. To expose that now could do serious damage to something I care a lot about and have a lot invested in so I choose not to. So the same thing is happening right here on Scripting News, and I don't (think) I have to tell you how much I hate it.)


Last update: Sunday, July 01, 2001 at 9:20 PM Eastern.

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