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Interview with Robert Scoble, Technical Evangelist (and Blogger): Microsoft
ActiveWin.com: What exactly do you do at Microsoft?
ActiveWin.com: Your Wikipedia article states you are the Chief Blogging Officer at Microsoft? Is that an official title?
ActiveWin.com: What got you started in blogging?
ActiveWin.com: How did the idea for Channel 9 come about?
ActiveWin.com: How has your blogging, along with that of all the other Microsoft bloggers, already changed marketing and PR at the company?(As suggested by this Economist Feb 2005 article: http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3644293&fsrc=RSS
ActiveWin.com: At first, were you ever afraid the negative things you posted might affect your job stability?
ActiveWin.com: What are your thoughts of the now famous Mini-Microsoft blogger?http://minimsft.blogspot.com/
ActiveWin.com: Were you involved in the Windows Vista naming process at all? What do you think of the name?
ActiveWin.com: How will blogs change Vista’s development cycle from, say, Windows XP’s, if at all?
ActiveWin.com: Your position allows you to meet a variety of people across Microsoft most other employees wouldn't have an opportunity to. What are some of your favorite Channel 9 stories you have done?
Well, last week I got a tour of Bungie. That team is ultra secretive -- most Microsoft employees can't even get inside their offices. I think my favorite videos, though, are the ones inside Microsoft Research. They not only have cool equipment to build cool stuff (like a multi-axis milling machine) but they have some of the smartest people I've ever met, too.
Some of my other favorite ones? The .NET CLR team tours (we've done several). Those guys are smart and they are building the future of Windows, so it's important to figure out what they are up to.
ActiveWin.com: Channel 9 has become a big player in the Windows community landscape. What kind of limitations does that put on you, being run by Microsoft? How does it affect your interaction with independent sites?
ActiveWin.com: Do you think companies who crave secrecy like Google and, even more so, Apple will eventually grow to embrace corporate blogging?
That's a tough one. I've presented to management teams at Target and Boeing. Boeing builds many products that they need to be much more secretive about than Apple or Google does and yet they are doing blogs at the corporate level.
I think they will eventually after they figure out there are more benefits to having employees blog than there are risks.
Here's why: the word-of-mouth network is both doubling in size every five months and getting more efficient. So, news stories now are going from blogs you never heard of to the front page of the New York Times in a couple of days. There's no way a centralized PR team can participate completely in this kind of conversation. Not to mention the PR types don't know the products as well as the people who actually built the products. I've found too that the developers who built the products often are online until 2 a.m. or even later, and on weekends. So, rumors get fixed, stories get worked out, and conversations happen online way before the story gets into the New York Times. Not saying that negative stories won't happen anymore, but at least now we're having people who know and care getting involved in the conversation.
ActiveWin.com: Where do you see the future of Channel 9 going, as it evolves and matures with time?
That's a tough one to predict. A lot of my video interests are in reaction to what the community asks me to do. For instance, just since this interview started I got an email asking me to go over and interview the MSN Messenger team. Obviously over the next year we're releasing a TON of new stuff. Visual Studio, SQL Server, Office 12, Xbox 360, Windows Vista, and dozens of smaller products like...CRM, BizTalk, and so on. We're working on features to make videos easier to watch. Just last week we released "Clipster" which lets users clip out their favorite parts of a video and post that for other people to watch. I want to make it easier to use Channel 9 on cell phones, too. There are some very talented developers working on Channel 9. Charles Torre and Adam Kinney. Oh, and the Nine Guy was developed by David Shadle. My wife keeps lobbying him for a female version of the Nine Guy.
ActiveWin.com: You’ve often described your blog as a corporate blog yet often venture into very private matters. Where do you draw the line?
That's a tough one, particularly now that my wife Maryam is blogging. Talk about fear! Heheh.
I look at it like a good meal. A little salt makes a meal taste better. Too much, though, spoils it. Luckily I'm pretty much only interested in technology. If you met me, that's probably what we'd end up talking about.
ActiveWin.com: Speaking of which, how do you manage to juggle your family life with the already hectic work-life and a severe blogging addiction?
ActiveWin.com: What are a few of your favorite blogs?
ActiveWin.com: What do you want your next job at Microsoft to be? Where do you see yourself in 5 years at the company?
That's a tough one cause I already have the best job in the company. Not the best paycheck, mind you, but sometimes quality of life is worth more than money and getting to interview the world's top geeks is a lot of fun.
ActiveWin.com: Do you have anything to add?
No, I am just honored to be on ActiveWin. I've been reading ActiveWin for longer than I've been blogging. Thanks for doing such a great job keeping us all up to date.
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