[Blue Monster PDC Edition– it’s colored azure for a reason.]
It was two years ago today that I first posted the Blue Monster on this blog. Thanks mainly to Microsoft’s Steve Clayton running with the idea [At great risk to his own career, I might add], it’s been quite an adventure for us both, to say the least.
Microsoft’s James Senior posted this two days ago:
About a year ago, my pal Steve Clayton (happy birthday buddy) unleashed a genius viral marketing ploy aimed at starting a conversation about Microsoft. It was really a call to arms challenging the company to reinvent itself. To innovate. To change the world.
Today we really did announce some stuff that will change the world, and it’s an amazingly exciting time to be at the company. Here’s the stuff that we announced today at PDC 2008.
* Windows 7 features
* Office Web Applications
* Office 14 features
* Live Framework
* Live Mesh Beta
* Live Mesh Dev Platform
* Live Mesh on the Mac
* Live Mesh on Win Mobile
* Visual Studio 2010 WPF
* Visual Studio Editor extensibility
* Windows Live ID and Open ID
* And more…
I think we’ve finally answered the call of the Blue Monster. We’re not going home, we’re going to change the world! Rock and Roll.
Here are some random notes on our little blue friend, in no particular order of importance:
1. I always liked what Dave Armano had to say about it:
Because everyone at Mix 08 who worked for Microsoft and handed me either a “Blue Monster” business card or had the sticker, seemed different. It was hard to put a finger on, but although they were believers in Microsoft, they also seemed to believe in an external vision that challenged Microsoft to make a meaningful impact in the world. It’s a non corporate honest opinion, and some at Microsoft embrace it publicly.
What’s to be learned? Blue Monster shows us that no matter how big or small the company that the world is a bigger place. And external influences can become internal influences. And it teaches us that if we are interested in the evolution of corporate culture, that symbols are important. If we don’t find our own — someone will find them for us.
2. There was a time, maybe a year ago, when I could have feasibly turned the Blue Monster schpiel into a full-time gig. A combination of random events and my equally random self somehow decided against it in the end. Probably just as well. It’s more interesting without it being tied to a private, commercial agenda.
3. So Microsoft wants to change the world. But as JP once reminded me, with the Blue Monster the converse is also true: the world wants Microsoft to change as well. Which is exactly how it should be.
4. When the Blue Monster first started getting traction, Sarah Blow and others warned me that there was a lot of talk amongst the geeks, about how aligning with Microsoft might damage my own personal brand… “Hugh embraces The Dark Side” etc. I was perfectly aware of the risk; and frankly I didn’t care. I liked the people from Microsoft I had met up until that point, I also had a point to prove about large companies and their internal cultures, about how the internet made it possible for large companies to talk to the world in new ways. The “Porous Membrane” etc. To hell with “Personal Brand” crap. Whatever.
5. There are a lot of gapingvoid readers who don’t much care for Microsoft, and don’t mind telling me so. Do I worry about it? Not really, hell, some of it I actually agree with. They’re entitled to their opinion. They may not care for the car, that’s fine by me, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to amuse myself, checking under the hood.
6. I am not a techie, I am not a coder. I’m useless at that stuff. What interests me about Microsoft is the “Culture” bit i.e. keeping 70,000 people happy and productive, while making a profit by selling nothing more than ones and zeroes. The “Purpose-Idea” of the place etc. When you have a company that large, that interesting, that passionate and that powerful, it’s a goldmine of new material to write about.
7. I’ve not done much work with Microsoft this year, mainly because I moved to West Texas. In December that might be changing. Watch this space.
8. Props to Steve Clayton for everything. He’s a rare breed.
[UPDATE:] Steve Clayton talks about the two-year anniversary:
What a ride that has been. An interesting ride and at times a dangerous one for me personally. As James Senior said in a post earlier this week the PDC has been a Blue Monster week – for the second birthday we couldn’t have picked a better week. PDC has been full of world changing announcements. Maybe they’re just world changing from where I sit so please don’t think I’m suggesting we just cured cancer or something….but I continue to believe this company does world changing stuff. Stuff we should be proud of and that’s the kind of stuff we announced this week. For me, the coincidence of timing is amazing.