Dave Winer wrote today a post that is a second cousin of a post that has been rolling around inside my head since we learned that Scoble gave Microsoft the Mississippi half-step uptown toodleoo for startup Podtech.
Dave talks about how big Scoble’s presence in the blogosphere and beyond has become- and rightly so, given all the work he has done to make Microsoft relevant in the blogging/RSS space. Dave calls Scoble an “evangelist” in the Guy Kawasaki mode. Evangelist is a word that I have used with approval in a similar context that means someone with an agenda who is smart, well liked and has a strong personality. Evangelists are fishers of men and motivators of people. But sometimes, by doing what they do so well, evangelist types tend to overwhelm the systems within which they work and, while perhaps not in Scoble’s case, but definitely in others, can sometime face resistance and resentment from the coat and tie establishment. Or as I have said to colleagues, they too often are rightly loved downstream and wrongly despised upstream.
My thinking over the last couple of days is more along the lines of what Scoble’s departure tells us about corporate America and the blogging movement. I can’t help but think this is a stormy forecast for company acceptance of the blogosphere as a legitimate marketing and information distribution channel. Scoble and others have made it clear that Microsoft did right by Scoble. But if a huge tech company with billions of dollars in the bank hasn’t embraced the blogosphere enough to keep the single biggest personality in the blogosphere on its payroll, can we assume that maybe Microsoft (and likely other big companies) believes that the blogosphere is little more than an online geekfest full of people who are either already customers or not likely to become customers.
Stated another way, is the blogosphere where the customers aren’t?
Sure, there is an army of bloggers at Microsoft, but no one will deny that Scoble was the commander and chief. The successful move to keep Scoble in Redmond would have started months ago, not days or weeks, ago. I don’t know if this is just a big coincidence or tea leaves demanding to be read, but I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t more evidence of the marginalization of the blogosphere by big business.
As far as Scoble’s new gig goes, I had never heard of Podtech until the Scoble news broke- which means that he is already doing his job. I started out thinking podcasts were too hard and that nobody listened to them. Now I think they are too hard and I do one every couple of weeks. I don’t mind hard because I am interested in technology, but a whole potential podcastees do and aren’t.
Do I think podcasting will take hold in mainstream America. No, not as long as the RIAA is still circling around to make sure nobody puts anything on a podcast that mainstream America really wants to hear. But is it a growth area? Of course.
And of course I note that podcasting, unlike software, is one industry that is joined at the hip with blogging and RSS. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Whether he’s promoting software, podcasts, religion, apples or bass-o-matics, an evangelist’s job is to take the message to the people. I have no doubt that Scoble’s new message will soon be heard loud and clear.
It’s the other message I’m thinking about.