Scripting News for 10/29/2006

Pictures taken at this evening’s Cybersalon in Berkeley. 

AP: “Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said in a campaign debate Thursday that she would have voted against the war had she known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction.” 

Wired: “Some of the web’s more popular ‘milblogs’ — blogs maintained by present or former active duty military personnel — are going quiet following a renewed push by U.S. military officials to scan sites for security risks.” 

National Conference for Media Reform, Memphis, Jan 12-14. 

When I moved into the new house I bought a LaCrosse Atomic wall clock. It looks just like any other wall clock, except it has a radio built in, that tunes into a government broadcast frequency that sets the clock to the correct time every night. Last night it got a signal that it was off by one hour and corrected itself. One more thing not to worry about! It worked. 

Does Apple have a blogging policy? 

Apple is conspicuous among technology companies in having no one in the blogosphere from the company speaking about the company in an official or unofficial capacity. I’m sure there are many other big and small companies who aren’t present, but for a company whose presence is so large, it’s unusual they play almost no role in the conversation.

Recently, an ex-Apple person, Chuq von Rospach, wrote eloquently and sincerely about this, and Scoble, who was basically Microsoft’s first blogger (and a former employee of mine at UserLand) called him on it, and I have some facts that aren’t part of either of their stories, I was there at the dawn of Apple’s blogging policy, on two occasions, and imho the truth is closer to what Scoble says that to what Chuq says.

Shortly after Jobs took over at Apple, I got a call from him. I had never spoken with him before or since, and I had no idea the call was coming. I have spoken with Bill Gates a number of times, I’ve talked with ex-Presidents of the United States, with candidates for President, I even spoke once with Bill Clinton when he was the sitting President, but I was never so nervous as when I was talking with Jobs. I mostly listened. I’m convinced now that he was trying to be my friend, he was telling me what bozos the people running Apple were, something that both horrified me, and that I agreed with. He was so open in his derision, with me, basically a stranger. It really put me off. But in retrospect, perhaps I should have been more agreeable. I don’t know. But he was clearly in some way reaching out to me as a blogger probably, not so much as a developer. Also, I had at the time quit the Mac, quite openly, and had no plans to go back. Today, I use nothing but Macs, which is a testimony to the quality of his work, and the choices he made back then, but at the time, I was sure he would fail, and I said so openly. Net-net, at least at the beginning, it seems as if Jobs wanted some kind of dialog with the blogosphere.

The second part of the story involves Kate Adams who I first met at the Digital Storytelling Festival in Crested Butte, in 1997 (long before she was blogging). Kate was then quite outspoken, she worked in the Quicktime group at Apple, one of the successes of the company through the dark years, and one of a small number of technologies to survive at Apple 3.0.

Kate was at a company-wide meeting in Cupertino, shortly after Jobs took over, and sent me an email for publication without attribution, enthusiastically explaning what Steve had said. I published the email on Scripting News, without identifying the source. The next day she was called into Steve Jobs’s office at Apple, they knew who sent the email because they had written a script watching for mail going to me from inside Apple. Not surprisingly, I stopped getting mail from people at Apple. My sources (Kate wasn’t the only one) dried up.

To Chuq’s point, Kate wasn’t in any way acting as a spokesperson for the company. It was clear from the writing, this was an employee not a spokesperson. I didn’t identify her as a spokesperson. So if the policy wasn’t to be a spokesperson, it’s pretty clear Kate didn’t violate it.

Also, when Scoble was blogging for Microsoft, most of the time he wasn’t blogging as a company spokesman (it’s possible there were times when he was coordinating with Microsoft PR). In general people understood that he was blogging as a person. It was pretty clear, because at times he would say he thought management was wrong. Not too many spokespeople do that. Same with all the other bloggers. If Ray Ozzie, on the other hand, were to resume his blog, that would be different, we would assume, since he’s an officer of the company, that his writing was official. So if Apple really believes what Chuq says, they can relax a bunch, the blogosphere is smart enough to discern between a spokesperson and a plain old person. :-)

An account of the Kate Adams/Steve Jobs meeting (with at least one fact wrong) appeared in Alan Deutschman’s book about Jobs, published in 2001.

An excerpt of Deutschman’s book ran in Salon.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Does your Atomic Clock have a doomsday hand, that counts down to nuclear armageddon?

    http://www.thebulletin.org/doomsday_clock/

    I’d love to watch the doomsday hand move backwards, when the Democrats take over the Senate and House, and start the impeachment process!

    -Don

    Reply

  2. I think Dave would more likely have an Old Media Doomsday Clock:

    http://everybuddy.org/media-doomsday-clock/

    Reply

  3. Posted by Walt on October 29, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    But Dave: Surely you must know about “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” at http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/ (you of all people should appreciate his most recent post as of this writing – written from internet cafe, cuz his MacBook crapped out on him :-). Some might call this “fakesteve” an impostor; i think he’s channelling “El Jobso” in a way that feels so real, it’s scary sometimes. I guess the moral of this story is: public figures that don’t want the bother of keeping up a blog needn’t worry, someone will surely do it for ‘em (with pleasure 8^)

    Reply

  4. “Scoble, who was basically Microsoft’s first blogger”

    Scoble started what, spring of 03? (http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2003/04/15.html)

    I’m pretty sure the first officially sanctioned blogging starting in ’02 in the dev tools org.

    Reply

  5. You’re not ALL Mac now are you? Your web servers are Windows machines.

    And your Vaio
    :P

    Reply

  6. Posted by Patrik on October 30, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Now, how do the hands on the atomic clock actually move by themselves? Is there a small servo of sorts built into it?

    Reply

  7. Posted by Diego on October 30, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    That photo next to this story. Where’d you get that photo of Steve Ballmer? :) “Developers! Developers! Developers!”

    Reply

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