Wednesday Sep 07, 2005

A Boy And His Dog Go Travelling

A while back, Tim Bray and I did an interview with Sun's venerable Bill Howard all about the idea of blogging and where blogs.sun.com came from, philosophically speaking. It appeared soon after in Sun's customer newsletter, "Inner Circle", and we were both quite pleased with how it had turned out.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we discovered that the article had been deemed worthy of an appearance on the Sun.Com home page. I first spotted it when hits started to show up in my referrer log from people curious to read the blog of this loud-mouth featured on the home page. Even more amazing was the discovery that, unable to secure a suitably approved photo of Tim and myself, the editor had used a photo we'd both been trying to keep secret, showing our last visit to the office after Tim's recent experimental surgery.

You may not know, but actually "Bray" is a modified version of his original family name, "Bark". You'll see on the right that I'm largely unchanged (my hair is spiked but otherwise that's just how I look usually) but Tim has suffered extreme weight loss and grown a coat of white and brown hair - and unusually is not wearing a hat.

The story is rapidly spreading across the world - so far I have found it in French, German, Dutch, Chinese, Spanish and Polish as well as in English - so Tim's little secret is out. When you see him, remember to give him a pat on the head, ask if he wants walkies and most especially ask if Atom is his favourite brand of dog biscuit.

Saturday Sep 03, 2005

Blogging on the Radio

If you're in the UK, you may be interested in listening to national Radio 4 at 4pm on Tuesday where the Shop Talk programme will be exploring "Business Blogging" (the programme will also be available online from Wednesday, for about a week). I had the pleasure to appear on the programme, which was recorded last Tuesday, along with the glitterati of the UK blogging scene - Adriana Cronin-Lukas, a UK blogging consultant, Heather Platts who runs soap manuafacturer Eieflud and has recently started a blog, analyst Azeem Azhar and James Cherkoff, another blogging consultant. There was also a recorded interview with online tailor Thomas Mahon.

As Adriana points out, the smooth but strongly directive approach taken by the very professional presenter, Heather Payton, meant that there was little room to really explore the UK blogging scene as a phenomenon. In particular and to my regret I didn't even get to plug the UK blogging conference, 'Our Social World', which is happening on Friday in Cambridge and will likely be an excellent venue for the discussion Radio 4 missed. I'll be there, maybe you will be too?

Update: Listen to the programme if you dare! (link likely to rot away on Sept 13)

Sunday Aug 28, 2005

I/O in iTunes

Richard's new I/O Podcast (inside Sun for the outside world - Inside/Outside) is now available for subscription from iTunes. It joins Radio 4's "From Our Own Correspondent" on my subscription list!

Wednesday Aug 24, 2005

I/O Is Here

I just got off the virtual phone with Richard Giles, who is starting a podcast channel called I/O. He plans to roam the halls at Sun providing some transparency through informal interviews with people doing stuff that's in the news or should be. He asks dangerous questions - I hope the resulting interview doesn't get me into too much trouble when it comes out!

Monday Jun 13, 2005

Chronicle and Blogging

I actually like the article in the San Francisco Chronicle on blogging today, even if Ben didn't actually link to my blogs despite the long interview! Key quote:

"The blog-and-lose-your-job (scare) is vastly exaggerated," Phipps of Sun said. "If someone is dumb enough about blabbing about company secrets, it doesn't matter what medium you give them. They'll still blab about company secrets."

Credit for the "don't be stupid" summary ought to go to Scoble by the way, not me (still, he got a link & I didn't...)

Tuesday Apr 19, 2005

Kebabs At Last

I'd like to welcome Sun's newest blogger - that's Emma in Northampton, who is set for world domination. When we started blogs.sun.com she was exactly the sort of Sun employee I had in mind. Our vision for blogs.sun.com was to create a vehicle where the people Sun trusts most to speak on its behalf - that would be our employees - are able to do so. We expected to hear authentic, original and passionate voices from around the world. We wanted everyone to meet the real heart of Sun - not its marketing wing, not its PR professionals, but the real people who are engaged in delighting customers every day.

So Emma, an experienced blogger (who I have never met) branching out onto blogs.sun.com for the first time, is exactly the sort of person I was hoping to find blogging here. I'll be adding her to my Bloglines aggregator - welcome, Emma.

Thursday Jan 13, 2005

Opening Up

This comment from a journalist, Charlie Schluting, makes it all worthwhile. It's openness that wins in the massively-connected world, as James Governor points out.

Monday Jan 10, 2005

Another VP

Yes, we have another Sun vice-president blogging, Piper Cole. She is VP of Public Policy for Sun. Welcome to the blogosphere, Piper!

Sunday Jan 09, 2005

Three Rules for Blogging

We have a bigger list available, but really there are only three rules for a corporate blogger:

  1. Act as smart as you do in the rest of your job
  2. Don't mess up
  3. Rinse and repeat
Jeremy has wise words from bitter experience on this. See more on this over on Webmink.

Sunday Jan 02, 2005

Dawn of Eve

I'm delighted to see that Eve Maler is now blogging, as XMLgrrl - and straight in there with quirky erudition as well. One of the least-sung pioneers of XML, she's the person I go to every time I have a query about XML or web services and so far she's never failed me! Welcome, Eve.

Monday Dec 20, 2004

Discussion Group

Haven't said it here before, but I have a discussion group over on Yahoo Groups where SunMink readers would be welcome to drop by to discuss postings.

Wednesday Nov 17, 2004

Sorry, I don't Fink so

It's great to see Martin Fink from HP blogging. Or at least it would be, if he was. I'll leave others to comment on his content - I'm amazed by the poor judgement on the medium. If Martin seriously wanted to engage the blogging community in the way thought-leaders have done then I would have a huge amount of respect for him, especially given HP's self-serious conservatism. But sadly Martin Fink's site has all the hallmarks of a cheap PR stunt run by HP to try to ride the wave of Sun's announcements on Monday.

Why do I say that? Well, I spent a few minutes doing some web site forensics. First I looked at the page source (what a great retro look by the way). It was edited with Adobe GoLive - which is part of Adobe's pro suite for graphic designers & has no Linux version - and that includes the "blog" page. As David Berlind notes there's no syndication feed and more importantly no permalinks, and the whole page (which is contained in a framed scroll box) is called "FBlogNov04.htm" suggesting this was a static site designed purely for the purpose of attacking Sun in November '04. The service is hosted on Linux, probably on a Dell system, by a hosting company, not by HP. It went live Monday so was planned well beforehand with that (well-publicised) date in mind. Go mining in NetCraft and you can find this all for yourself.

The 'blog' text doesn't have a blog 'tone' - it's classic competitive-attack-team copy (for example the fact that Solaris uses a single source tree so his dichotomy of just making Solaris x86 open source is false, or the fact that ZFS in endian-neutral so his problem of SPARC and x86 sharing data is avoided). I recall seeing plenty of this in a lame and embarrassing (if playful) competitive site that Sun ran in the dark days - but at least that owned up to what it was and played for laughs.

I'd love to see Martin walk the talk and run a blog - the industry needs more of it - but that involves speaking in an authentic voice. I know Jonathan Schwartz writes his own stuff, that blogs.sun.com is run using open source software (which HP could use too) on Sun's domain. Sun is actually trying to rejoin the conversation, and it's paying off, as HP proves here. But to play copy-cat, HP will have to do more than publish brochureware. The market is now a conversation and this sort of soap-box stunt belongs to the past.

Saturday Jun 12, 2004

The Blogging Experience

As well as being amused and stung by UserFriendly this week, I've been enjoying the comments John Clingan has been making about the blogging experience. His concern, which I share, is that speaking with an authentic voice means taking the risk of one's comments being used elsewhere unwisely or even maliciously. More than once I have posted things which are my view and seen them cited as "the view of Sun's Chief Evangelist" and thereafter with the words "Sun says..." - circumstances under which, sadly, non-authentic marketing cuts in. John says:

I think being paranoid about these things defeats the value of blogging and can quickly become an inhibiter. I will, while blogging, do my best to get things right and leave it at that. Let common sense rule. Just keep in mind that, while I work for Sun Microsystems, my blogs are my own and represent my opinions, and that, well, I am only human.

John also writes on a topic I've been considering recently, the subject of anonymous postings. He's right on the nail in his discussion but I can hear in my memory the arguments of those who say that anonymous posting is essential to allow free discussion. That may be true, but I agree with John when he says:

Anonymity unfortunately encourages posts that are so chock full of opinion with baseless claims that you wonder if the poster was really a computer program that generated random words.

and that's why on my webmink blog I have set house rules requesting people posting anonymously to advise me of their identity or risk removal of their remarks.

But the problem is deeper than that. Pseudonymous posting is much more sinister. The recent debacle on TheServerSide was caused not by anonymous posting by by pseudonymous posting, with assumed identities being filled out over time and used to rubbish the critics of those controlling them in a way that would not be respected if the true identities were known. While we can invent ways to mitigate the problem, ultimately all blogging - in fact, all reportage - should be taken with a pinch of salt and trust only placed in it to the extent one's relationship with the speaker permits and the authenticity of the voice supports. To be otherwise is to be a techno-utopian.

Sunday Jun 06, 2004

Another MinkBlog?

Yep. Kudos to Will Snow and the rest of the team for getting this site together so effortlessly. I'm not sure I'll be using it that often myself as I try to keep everything over on Webmink and already struggle to cross-post to java.net but we'll see. Why are we doing this? Well, it's partly as a public service to the 32,000+ Sun employees out there, partly as a learning exercise for the CTO Office and others in the Sun software division where I work, partly a sign of the times for sun.com and partly something I'd expect any large employer to offer once they grok Cluetrain. Still plenty of things to do but I am really proud to work for a company where this is possible.
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Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.

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