There’s an interesting debate happening on Robert Scoble’s blog. The debate is interesting, not because of the subject matter itself, per se, but rather because it seems to indicate that a seed change is happening in the blogosphere.
Last Thursday (21st) Robert posted a small piece mentioning the allegations that Microsoft was abandoning gays. Robert is personally pro gay rights and so said he was “I’m gonna take this up with the leadership of the company”. All well and good.
But then, on Saturday, Robert reported that Steve Ballmer had written to all Microsoft employees concerning this issue. Steve Ballmer is Microsoft’s CEO and this wasn’t a public communication so Robert said “If someone over in PR could give me permission, I’ll be happy to post the entire letter”.
Later that same day, Robert wrote that “I got permission from PR to post Steve’s email“. He published a link to a copy of Steve Ballmer’s mail and then went on to take Steve Ballmer to task questioning his leadership abilities for taking this stance inviting his readers to comment on this too (which they did, in their hundreds).
Robert then reported that his bosses boss (Vic Gundotra) had responded to Robert’s post about Steve Ballmer. Vic said “Should a CEO pick sides on an issue that is so divisive? Does being “inclusive” and “diverse” suddenly stop when it involves views that are different than the ones we hold?”
In Robert’s reply, he said ” believe that a CEO SHOULD take a position on controversial and divisive issues. That’s leadership”.
So why do I think this heralds a seed change in the blogosphere? Well, yesterday I mentioned the BusinessWeek article on blogging and although I liked the article I did think it a little prone to hyperbole. One thing they said “Companies over the past few centuries have gotten used to shaping their message. Now they’re losing control of it” has been proven very true in the last couple of days with this story and it is only going to happen more and more.
Anyone with an Internet connection and a PC (or even access to a webcafe) can blog. Companies are going to have to come to terms with blogs quickly and develop strategies for how to deal with them. It will be interesting to watch how Microsoft deal with Robert Scoble’s very public criticism of Steve Ballmer’s leadership abilities.
UPDATE: – I see Damien has picked up on this story as well.