One year ago today, I timidly posted my first external blog posts: A Few Good Books, Blogregator: VS.NET Start Page Custom Tab, and three others that no longer exist. The deleted ones passed the writer's stress test but failed the managerial acceptance test on first pass. As you might guess by the title of my second post, I had been blogging for awhile, just not externally...
Born to Blog?
Switching from an internal blog, where I could write freely, to a customer-facing blog, where I became a newspaper-quotable extension of the Microsoft Corporation, was like transitioning between football and basketball seasons: my instinct to tackle a subject directly was so strong that I had to force myself to play with less zealousness than is my wont.
In May 2003, Microsoft employees who were blogging were either born bloggers or technology enthusiasts because blogging outside the corporate firewall wasn't the safest pastime. Since its founding, Microsoft has been famous for keeping a very tight lid on “external communications“. Blogs are the opposite of a “tight lid“. A blog is a direct tap to the Internet for an individual worker bee. And while my manager didn't exactly hang a sign on his door reading, “Blog at Your Own Risk, Fool!“, he didn't miss a chance to remind me that my activities were not without jeopardy either. To this day, the only company-wide guidelines for external bloggers that have been published are contained in a list that I threw together (http://community/blogs.asp - MSFT-only) over a couple of hours and pushed to our Community team as “a place to start.“ For the record, I wish that they would have edited the list a little but I'm infinitely relieved that the guidelines have not been replaced by a formal Set of Rules.
Blog, Microsoft, Blog
If you're a customer, investor, or just someone who wants to understand what makes Microsoft Microsoft, you need look no further than blogs.msdn.com. On almost every level: technology, implementation, administration, usage, tone, content, and personalities, our weblogs are a living monument to the spirit of innovation and hardworking culture that makes Microsoft the greatest software company on Earth. Blogs.msdn.com epitomizes Microsoft's ability to innovate, change strategic directions on a dime, make huge bets, and deliver the goods to both customers and investors.
I am incredibly proud to have played a small part in demonstrating the potential of external employee weblogs to transform and enhance the product development process and customer reach at Microsoft, and beyond.