Warning, this may a be a bit long and rambling...
I have to say, I expected varied reactions to my new job but was surprised by how much blog coverage it got and the number of e-mail responses I got. One of the most thoughtful reactions was from Danny Sullivan. In his post on the Search Engine Watch blog, he says:
What I find most significant is that the move positions him as the first notable blogvangelist employed by a major search company.
Several friends and coworkers have come to the same conclusion. Some, in trying to understand my new role, have asked "So you're going to be Yahoo's Robert Scoble?"
I explain that it's not quite the same but similar in some ways. (Maybe more than some, but I haven't talked with Scoble in detail about his job.) The comparison is probably quite reasonable. So it's no surprise that Danny made that connection as well:
Microsoft has had this type of blogger personality in the form of Robert Scoble. He's someone who works from Microsoft, is vocal about things there but doesn't necessarily follow the party line. He was also instrumental in pulling together Microsoft's recent Search Champs initiative.
Even though I don't always agree with Scoble or Microsoft, I think he's a great guy and really respect what he's done for Microsoft. I have hopes of helping Yahoo do similar things at some point.
There's another set of people who've approached me and said something along the lines of:
Wow, this sounds great. But be careful, dude. If it starts to look like you're just a company mouthpiece or cheerleader, you're credibility will vanish in no time!
Going back to Danny's post, he touched on this in a different way when he said:
Search is also one of the things Jeremy has touched on in his personal blog, with some of the best reading dings at Google and even his own employer, at times.
As a long reader of Jeremy's blog, he's always been that way as well -- a personality who speaks his mind, regardless of what his employer may think. With his new role in search, we ought to hear more interesting firsthand accounts of someone on the frontline of the search wars.
He's right. I've picked on Yahoo and Google quite a bit. I'm a harsh critic--especially about things that are important to me. I get upset when a service doesn't do what I expect it to do. I don't expect that to change at all. You want to know why?
- Because it works. Not always, of course, but sometimes the things that I point out get picked up and discussed--even fixed. Saying things in a more public way occasionally provides the motivation and attention necessary to get problems handled. I'm sure Scoble would back me up on this. :-)
- Because it's my job. Part of what Jeff expects me to do is point out problems when I see them. Sure, I'll be trying to get them in front of the right people first, but some of those are bound to show up here in one form or another.
In other words, I will not be toning things down. I will not avoid criticizing things that I think are wrong. You'll read what I think. If MSN comes out with some kick ass search product, I'll say so. Just like I may speculate on how link spammers will attack snap.com if it gains steam. (That'll be a fun one.)
It'll be harder than it used to be, because I'm more likely to actually know the people that I run the risk of offending. And that means toning down would be the easy thing to do. But would you be nearly as interested if I always did the easy thing?
Let me leave you with the profound words of Mark Pilgrim on corporate blogging:
A corporate blog is just like a personal blog, except you don’t get to use the word “motherfucker.”
This is a personal blog. I just happen to talk about work stuff more than is probably healthy.
Posted by jzawodn at October 13, 2004 11:53 PM