The Scobleizer talks about Microsoft Blogging

Robert Scoble — perhaps best known as the Microsoft “Scobleizer” blogger — discusses the risky nature of blogging at Microsoft, how blogging is proving to be a valuable corporate communications tool that benefits large companies like Microsoft, the fine line that he walks with upper-level executives at Microsoft, and and the level of risk he takes everyday to push discussion on important tech issues that impact Microsoft.

DANA GREENLEE: Tell us about your experience being the chief Microsoft blogger.

ROBERT SCOBLE: Big title! There are a lot of people who are actually doing better blogging than I am. There are 1,800 bloggers now for Microsoft. Raymond Chen, on the Windows team – I think he gets more traffic than I do. I do take more risks with my blogging than other Microsoft employees, and maybe that’s what people are noticing.

GREENLEE: That’s certainly the case. Some of the things you’ve done over the years pushed the envelope of this, as far as corporate blogging. In terms of blogging and podcasting, people have a mainstream need for instant information.

SCOBLE: The place where I found that fascinating was when I took on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer regarding some legislation here in Washington state. Four guys got Skype (Internet ‘phone’) going on four different continents and had a little radio show about what I was writing about in an hour or two. By the end of the day—on a Saturday—they had posted this podcast about what I’d written. That’s where the power of it is. You can do these conversational little shows and put them up spuriously and continue a conversation in a new way. The only way we could get our voices out before was to call a radio station and hope the screener would put us on and hope the host would leave us on at least 30 seconds so we could just get our point in.

GREENLEE: How can businesses benefit from company blogging?

SCOBLE: For instance, I interviewed Chris Pratley from the OneNote team (Microsoft software that captures, organizes, finds, and shares notes), and he said blogs have completely changed how he designed his product because he can put up on his blog an idea that he has, and see what kind of reaction he gets. Five or six years ago, if I was a customer and I was using a new product from Microsoft and wanted to give feedback to that team, where would I have gone? But now I can go to MSN or Google, type “OneNote Blog,” and I get Chris Pratley, the guy who runs the team. I can leave a comment on his blog saying “Your product sucks, and here’s what I need it to do.” I know at least my feedback got to the right guy, and it wasn’t an intern answering the e-mail.

GREENLEE: Are you seeing that same thing happen with Longhorn and now Windows Vista?

SCOBLE: Those weren’t just blogs. We had to run a conference with 7,000- 8,000 attendees and we handed out the disks, and said go home and send us some feedback. But we had to do a multimillion dollar conference to get that feedback. In the future, I don’t think we need to do that. Look at what happened with Windows Visa when the product was announced. It was leaked somewhere around 6:00 p.m. the night before. By 2:00 a.m. there were 2,000 blogs that had already commented on it—and it wasn’t even announced until 6:00 a.m. If you’re a product developer—particularly for product that has a lot of interest —you can just turn on PubSub, Feedster or Technorati and start watching feedback coming in and get a very real sense in just a few hours whether people like your product or not.

The full 1 _ hour conversation is available to listen to at

Robert’s blog, Scobleizer, is available at