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 · · Blogging

GullFOSS · I’ve never been 100% comfortable with this notion of a “group blog”, but I guess I should stop worrying. The Aquarium seems to have been a major success for the GlassFish people, and now there’s GullFOSS, OpenOffice.org’s home on the blogospheric range. As I write this, the latest post is their weekly development schedule snapshot, something that more Open-Source projects would do well to post. I may up doing a 180° turn and thinking that every substantial development project should have a group blog.
OpenSolaris Is One · That was quite a launch, this time last year; hundreds of bloggers, hundreds of thousands of words. I think it kind of worked. As of now, geeks choosing a server-side OS for geek reasons have a handful of choices: Linux, Solaris, one or two of the BSDs. I care about the geeks and I don’t care that much about the CIOs, because during the first decade of my career, while the CIOs were talking about MVS and VMS and Tandem Guardian and AS/400, the geeks were quietly saying “Unix” and generally Getting Shit Done. If we can give hands-on people good technical reasons to use Solaris, they will; otherwise not. I still want a GNU/Solaris userland, please. Want Dapper Drake on Solaris? Done. [Update: That Nexenta Alpha 5 is now out, with Dapper, OpenSolaris 40, 11,800 packages, JDK via DLJ and tons of other juicy Gnu + Debian + Ubuntu goodness.]
BlogBridge · I wrote about this feed-reader before way last year, saying it was good but slow. Today, I got a gripe saying there were problems with my Atom feed in BlogBridge, so I downloaded it and it’s still very good and not slow any more. Except for, when I first downloaded it, it wouldn’t work at all; muttered quietly on startup about my previous “Guides” being corrupted, but then sat there sullenly and refused to do much of anything. Not entirely unreasonable, I figured if I wiped out the settings from the previous install I should be fine; but it took me the longest time to figure out they were in $HOME/.bb as opposed to somewhere under $HOME/Library; harrumph. Anyhow, yes, it’s slick and fast and fun to use and imports OPML just fine and (as it’s Java) runs everywhere; so it’s now replaced Bloglines as my recommended feed-reader for anyone who’s not on a Macintosh and thus can’t use NetNewsWire. And, oh, yes, it’s got a relative-URI bug in its Atom 1.0 handling, a subtle one which most people won’t notice. I filed a bug report, let’s see what happens. [Update: Got a note from Blogbridge saying “Try the weekly” and sure enough, all fixed up. Good stuff.]
Scoble’s Bad Month · I don’t always agree with Scoble, but the man doesn’t have an ounce of malice, near as I can tell. I think that, by and large, he towers over the people who’ve been giving him a hard time, and I’d advise him to tune ’em out unless they’re really adding value. To address a couple just in the last week: Note to Vogels@Amazon: There’s a word for companies that base all decisions on ruthless quantitative ROI metrics: Bankrupt. I’m an engineer and value numbers, but in business, sometimes anecdotal evidence is all you’ve got, and the anecdotal evidence that blogging produces good results for some companies is pretty voluminous. You don’t want to hear it, that’s your privilege; me, I tend to want to consider all the inputs. Note to Nick Carr: This perils of blogging piece is really poorly considered. Carr introduces his lengthy list of Things That Can Go Wrong with “Last year, the San Francisco law firm Howard Rice provided a useful overview of the legal risks inherent in employee blogging”. As a thought experiment, replace the word “blogging” with “email” or “conference presentation” or “teleconference” or “sales presentation”. Or “barroom conversation” for that matter. Quick, quick, you wanna be safe, you better lock all your employees up and never let ’em say anything to anyone! The point is that qualitatively, blogging requires no new policies and introduces no new risks. If your employees are going to say stupid things in public, you’ve got a management problem and a policy problem, not a blogging problem. Note to executives who are frightened of hearing what their employees have to say, or finding out what the world really thinks about their company: Carr has done you a real favor. Just go and ask your attorneys if they think blogging is safe, and slip ’em a copy of that list, and you can rest easy knowing you’ll never hear anything uncomfortable.
Naked Conversations · Subtitled How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I got an advance copy of this a couple of months ago, with a note saying “Can we have a quote for the cover by Wednesday?” But I didn’t get around to reading it until several Wednesdays later. Summary: Lots of people will benefit from reading this; especially “Communications Professionals”. Most people who read ongoing won’t learn much, but they might enjoy it anyhow. Read on for more details ...
Upcoming Gig: Northern Voice · Now, this is going to be fun. On Saturday February 11th, at Northern Voice 2006, I’m going to be doing a sit-down interview with Dave Sifry and try to entertain the audience for 45 minutes. I think we should engage the whole room in a big argument. Last year was a fun and moving, too.
Roller Redux · Which is to say, Roller 2.0 has shipped. Lots of new stuff, and anything that can hold up under the blogs.sun.com load is pretty well battle-tested. I wonder if there are any other freely-downloadable blogging engines (WordPress maybe?) getting as much full-time dedicated attention.
Hey There, Adobe! · The name kind of says it all: blogs.adobe.com. Glad to have you guys on board. Not sure about those “Terms of Use”, though, and shouldn’t the titles on the front page be clickable? Hey, the comments are all-moderated, which I think is very sensible. I spot a trend or two.
OpenSolaris Blogs Oh My · They told me they were going to try to get lots of people to blog about the launch, but this is remarkable: this morning they knew about 132 bloggers and 215,000 words, and there’s another dozen pieces every time I turn on my aggregator. The communications and culture shift happening here is maybe just as interesting as OpenSolaris itself. Herewith observations, and pointers to some particularly sharp-edged samples. A new thing is in the world ...
Hey There, Big Blue! · So, it’s now officially OK for IBMers to blog. I read their policy guidelines with interest, since I led the drafting of the Sun version when we launched just over a year ago. The IBM policy is remarkably consistent with ours, there are only a few differences that leap out at me. First, there is specific advice to “speak in the first person”, which I think is excellent and we should steal next time we do a revision. Second, under the heading “Add value” there is language that makes it pretty clear that blogs on IBM properties are supposed to be about IBM’s business and not much else. I guess this is reasonable, but it would rule out things like our globalful and Isa, which add some chuckles to the world and don’t cost much. Even our mostly-tech blogs regularly veer out into off-the-job territory, for example, I just hopped over to blogs.sun.com and out of the most recent posters picked chandanlog(3C). Hmm. Finally, under the heading “Don’t pick fights” (who could disagree) there is a flat statement “You should avoid arguments”, and that’s just wrong. Human intellectual progress relies heavily on arguing things out, some guy named Socrates was a pioneer. About three-quarters of my job consists of arguing with people about one thing or another, how could I not do it here? A blogosphere without arguments would be a poor, thin, boring place. Still, it’ll be nice to have IBM around, and here’s my advice to to all the incoming Big Blue bloggers: don’t forget to have fun.
Banalities R Us · Last weekend’s Northern Voice conference has been covered to death, in words and pictures. For those who read French, quite a different take from Karl Dubost. Anyone who says I presented une série de banalités inintéressantes has to be worth reading. Also, he points to Stephen Downes’ presentation, generally agreed to have been the most controversial of the conference. It turns out that, while I disagree pretty comprehensively with Downes, he’s a good writer, check it out.
Northern Voice · I think I’ve never previously been to a blogging conference. The whole idea seems somehow ludicrous. Still, I enjoyed the day and learned things and met interesting people; hearty thanks to the people who put it on. The crowd is more diverse—as in, gender-balanced—than I’m used to, and the sessions more conversational, and there’s a lot of mutual respect in the air. Here’s an epiphany I’ve had belatedly, others have long been onto it: the blogosphere, Long Tail and all, is not about the millions of voices, it’s about the millions of ears; it is, more than any other single thing, an improvement in our ability to listen, to find out what’s going on.
Corporate Blogging? · There’s an interesting piece on the subject from Scott Rosenberg, who’s generally pessimistic about the uptake. Scott’s arguments are sound; I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and it’s probably even worse than he says. But there are grounds for hope ...
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I am an employee of Amazon.com, but the opinions expressed here are my own, and no other party necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my professional interests is on the author page.