Microsoft has turned on a new marketing … er … communications blog called “Channel 9” whose stated goal is to create transparency into Microsoft’s internal development processes. There’s a Channel 9 doctrine which is basically a restatement of the Cluetrain Manifesto. There’s lots of video snippets. Personally, I never download video snippets: even with broadband, they take seconds to load, which seems antithetical to the whole efficient point of blogging. There’s a control for Windows Media Player that allows you to speed up audio playback while controlling the pitch, allowing you to listen to spoken word recordings at rates approaching reading; perhaps when someone creates a similar plugin for video, I’ll change my tune.
You know, one of the funny aspects of blogging is that people are sniping at Microsoft about “not getting RSS.” If you were to compare how marketing techniques have changed in the past year or so at any two large companies in the world, Microsoft’s embrace of their developers’ voices would have to rank as among the more dramatic changes.
Here’s another observation, though: Microsoft bloggers seem to occasionally have coordinated talking points. This week, for instance, there’s been a sudden surge in the message “Windows Forms is not threatened by Longhorn.” This might be just the “echo chamber” quality of the blogosphere, but Waggener Edstrom is also promoting that message in the traditional PR channels. Coincidence? WaggEd “echoing” the blogosphere? Talking points memos? Not that it really matters, except to point out what should be obvious: the majority of employee blogs from any organization will be more self-censored, more pro-“My Company,” more distorted than most professional PR.
The human voice promoted by blogs is absolutely appealing. Specific insights offered by blogs are wonderful. But blogs are not magic truth-telling oracles.