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What do you want in an Intel corporate blogger?

Dave Winer linked to a post by Daniel Bernstein, asking “Is Scoble’s departure the beginning of the end for honest corporate blogging”?

It got me thinking. I left some comments on Daniel’s post, about how I’m trying to carry on in the grand Scoble tradition here at Intel, but I wanted to post here, and ask you guys, the ones that read my blog: what you want in a corporate blogger? You guys are the smart ones – I’m just the geek at the keyboard. 😉

What made Scoble so interesting (I know a lot of you thought he wasn’t)? What kinds of things do you want me talk about with regard to Intel and corporate blogging? I try to present an honest view of the way things are at the company. Some people say that I’m too critical sometimes, and that’s probably true, but it’s only because I love Intel, and I want us to be successful. By successful, I mean that I want us to make products that people love, that change their lives. And I wouldn’t mind the stock price going up a little. 😉

So, there’s definitely a bias here. I’m not an Intel basher, but I’m also not just going to spout the party line, just because. If there’s something we’re not doing well, or a mistake that we’ve made, then I think we should acknowledge it, and talk about it openly, and try to make it better. Isn’t that what transparency is all about?

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2 thoughts on “What do you want in an Intel corporate blogger?

  1. I’ve avoided speculating too much about Scoble’s departure from Microsoft, but I’ve wondered if some of the issues I’ve mentioned in your previous posting (the conflict between the desire to do well for your employer vs. your dedication to your readers) didn’t play a part. Scoble was very gracious, claiming that he had the best job in the world, with complete support, but really: if that were true, would he be leaving?

    Even if that conflict had nothing to do with his departure, I can’t help but think that it’s a difficult path to tread. As a consumer, I don’t get paid by Microsoft or Intel, they get paid by me. I’m pretty sensitive to even the appearance of a conflict of interest: when Scoble made positive statements about Microsoft or negative comments about Apple, I take them with less than a grain of salt, because it’s pretty clear that he’s trying to do well by his company. An honest observer would be hard pressed to call Vista anything but a software disaster, given its ever decreasing feature list and ever later projected ship dates. When Scoble claims that Microsoft is really full of excellent engineers who are trying to make great products, it has to show, and for the most part, it really hasn’t, at least to the consumer. When Scoble painted a rosy picture, telling us to wait and see how great it is going to be, one can’t help but think that he’s representing his company rather than his readers.

    Am I too skeptical? Maybe. But I’ll go further. I don’t buy into the Cluetrain Manifesto. Markets aren’t conversations: they are exchanges. I give you dollars, you give me a Core Duo. As a seller, you are trying to give me as little as possible and charge me as much money as possible. As a buyer, I’m trying to give you as little money as possible for what you give me. We have a necessarily adversarial relationship. Corporate bloggers attempt to sit between the two sides of this relationship, and to pretend that the relationship isn’t adversarial. That’s simply not a stable place to be. If you are going to side with your corporate masters, it is difficult to build any serious trust in your comments. If you are going to side with your readers, you’ll find yourself largely in opposition to the people who pay your salary. You might be able to tap dance back and forth for a while, but I just don’t think it can last.

    The best that a company can do is to make great products that people want, and to make sure that everyone who might want one knows how cool they are. This is what Apple and Steve Jobs does very well, and Microsoft and to a certain extent Intel doesn’t do very well. When Apple announces a product, usually they are announced at major events, and immediately after you can just go order one. You don’t need to be told why you want one, or how great they will be. You just buy one. They don’t waste time telling you how great it will be, they just build the product and release it.

    The thing that’s sort of bad for Intel is that CPUs are really just commodity items. Intel lost 11% of its marketshare in the fourth quarter of 2005. That wasn’t an accident. AMD simply made processors which were faster and cheaper, and more people (myself included, for the first time) bought them. There is some reason for Intel to be more optimistic about the future: the arms race keeps both companies innovating, and I think Intel might make some gains back in 2006 as their new Core chips make gains, but consumers are going to be fickle. There isn’t a cool factor associated with processors like there is with the iPod: people will defect when they think that another company gives them a better deal. If you are going to consistently support Intel, you better make sure their products are consistently better than alternatives. If they aren’t, you are going to find yourself sailing in rocky waters, and ultimately you will have to take a job at podtech. :-)

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