22 thoughts on “Putting blogging to the test

  1. vinnie mirchandani

    yes, but amazon already is a sophisticated digital communicator with its customers as a pioneer of e-tailing. You cannot generalize their experiences with the average brick and mortar company which hides behind calls centers from their customers. By all means they should involve attorneys and be cautious, but they need to learn to blog – if they can get anywhere near how amazon relates digitally to their customers, then they can take Vogels more critical POV

  2. Rick Segal

    With respect, Nick, this is changing the core point of the topic. Werner’s points might even be good,’blunt’ and, heck, even right.

    That doesn’t excuse the behavior which is: Rude to guest and then go public with an internal meeting to “brag” about disagreeing and telling people be prepared when you come to Amazon.

    Sorry, that’s just dumb behavior for a large company to employ and it is not good, in my opinion for a C level employee to lead the charge.

    Werner’s points could have been made, exactly in the same way, by taking a simple approach.

    1. Being “polite” (I wasn’t there dunno the details)

    2. After the fact, do the blog posting, thank the authors for coming by, Amazon loves when great people come by, etc, etc.

    3. Then make his points..

    Your “refreshing blunt post” comments would then more data to the mix about all the rah rah stuff.

    FWIW, I happen to agree that the cheerleading about blogging is getting a bit over the top but I’d like to believe I could have that debate with Robert, Shel, You, or Warner where the end result was just that; a lively debate with smart people versus rude this or that stuff which takes away from the core issue.

    Great blog, thank you for taking the time to write it and share your thoughts.

  3. Wayne

    To me it sure sounds like Amaazon “gets” blogging in how it relates to the business. Blogging for the sake of blogging where it doesn’t offer a real business value is just plain silly.

  4. Nick


    If you’re right, I guess that’s further evidence of the dangers of corporate blogging. It makes it too easy to “go public” when you get annoyed.

    But in defense of Vogels, he wasn’t the one who “went public” with the internal meeting. Both Scoble and Israel discussed the meeting first in their blogs, and Israel was particularly critical of Amazon, saying he was “profoundly disappointed” and writing: “I left with the personal sense that it will be a tropical day in Seattle before any blogging between companies and customers is forthcoming from Amazon. I really hope that I’m proven wrong on this one.” So I don’t think it’s fair to charge Vogels with bragging; he was responding to public criticism from others.


  5. Michael Drips

    “cheerleading about blogging” certainly characterizes Mr. Scoble and Mr. Israel. It’s not surprising to see butt kissing “A listers” as well as former Microsoft employees such as Mr. Segal come to their defense. Its a closed world for that group of bloggers who believe that blogs are “conversations” (they aren’t) and that most businesses NEED to blog.

    I’m content with the non-blogging way Amazon keeps in touch with its customers and discontented with the scatter-brained approach (if indeed there is an approach) of Microsoft which is truly the opposite pole of customer satisfaction compared to Amazon.

    If you want to present to groups like the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Amazon and whoever else then you’d better be able to answer real world questions and not spin those questions to the rest of the world as “being treated rudely”.

  6. Mathew Ingram

    Nick, his post may be “refreshingly blunt,” but it sounds like his behaviour at the meeting went beyond refreshingly anything and veered over into belligerence, for which I see he has (more or less) apologized. And despite what Seth Finkelstein says in his comments on my post about it, I don’t think that kind of thing is on, regardless of how open we all are to “the conversation…”

  7. Nick


    I wasn’t at the meeting, so I don’t know what happened – I’m sure different people would characterize it in different ways. But I was invited to speak at Amazon after my book came out. I was told by the organizer of the event that I should expect to have my thinking challenged by attendees – that intellectual friction is an important part of the Amazon culture. And I was challenged – and forced to defend my argument. It was a good, tough discussion. Personally, I found it invigorating.

    To some people, particularly those who have cultivated their ideas in a hothouse, tough-mindedness will come off as rudeness. I say, let the icy winds blow.


  8. Anthony Cowley

    I don’t understand your stance on this issue, Nick. A few days ago you said, “The great thing about the Internet is that when you act like a dickhead you get praised for “exhibiting authenticity.””

    I thought you were taking a justified jab at the disgraceful, insult-filled, juvenile attacks so prevalent in today’s web conversations. Yet here you seem to defend it as, in fact, authentic. Perhaps then I attributed sarcasm to the quoted remark that wasn’t intended. While I actually agree completely with Vogels on this issue, I don’t see any room for being rude to an invited speaker.

    Challenge the ideas, fine. Any lack of meaningful response is sufficiently damning. But if you are immediately dismissive of the idea, then you’re not really asking a question at all.

  9. Nick

    Anthony, I think I was jabbing more at the cult of “authenticity” than at dickheadedness (though I’m certainly not immune to contradicting myself). But, anyway, I’m much more interested in the points Vogels makes about justifying the institutionalization of corporate blogging than in trying to characterize someone’s behavior in a meeting that I didn’t attend. Nick

  10. John Furrier

    Can we all just get along :-)

    I think Werner Amazon’s CTO defends his hard line against Scob and Shel. I’d expect that from the NY Times not Amazon. I see his point in defending for facts. The evidence is so clear. Where do you want to start with the data? I can’t wait to present to the them about podcasting.

  11. Marcelo Lopez

    To hear Dave Winer speak of it:

    “If I had been there I would have said that blogging is now an expected channel of communication with at least some customers, with developers and the press.”


    That being all well, and good. If you want to communicate with customers, developers and the press, an RSS feed sounds like a good idea. But I disagree twofold:

    1. Blogging may be “expected”, but it’s not expected. I think this whole “expectation” thing is still not quite there. That isn’t to say that it WON’T be someday. But unless arguments like this one are clearly made to corporate-types, we WON’T get there. Not as soon as some of us would prefer, anyway.

    2. If someone doesn’t “get it”, you don’t goad them by sounding like a know it all. Which, let’s be honest, sometimes Scoble does.

    And, am I the only one who remembers Scott Wilson’s comment from a couple of days ago ( http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2006/03/lame_but_smart.php ), when I see something like “I’m game” on Scobles’ (http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/03/31/much-ado-about-blogging-scoble-you-didnt-answer-the-question/) post about this ? He’s game ? Now, he’s game ? So, with Nick he wouldn’t be game to debate the whole corporate blogging issue, but with Amazon he would ?

    double standard

  12. Kluelos

    Me, I’m not any kind of blogging authority or even a blogger at all: I’m just an occasional Amazon customer. I suppose one can sneer at the “group hug” approach” all day, but in the end I find Amazon, as a customer, to be unresponsive, irresponsible and uncaring. I don’t expect anything more than to be quoted “policy” by one of their marketing droids when they screw up, no matter how badly or culpably.

    Some sort of blog might make me feel that it’s possible to find a human being somewhere at Amazon –someone who’s response to “See this? It’s false advertising.” would be a bit better better than disclaiming any responsibility.

    It might, but without it and with Voegels’ attitude, I don’t believe I can ever expect any better of them or ever get past the droids.

    So I’m just a little guy and I’m sure Amazon won’t lose any sleep over it, but I don’t like Amazon and I don’t trust Amazon and I don’t do business with Amazon when I can avoid it. Maybe somewhere in there is Scoble&Co.’s point, and a little farther on is Voegels’ breathtaking ignorance and dismissal of the whole notion.

    A group-hug I don’t need, but some evidence that the company listens, accepts responsibility for its own actions and would try to do better, that would be refreshing.

  13. Dominic Jones

    While certain folks were harping on ad nauseam about this stupid non-event, let’s see what actually happened in the world today:

    Earthquakes kill 50, injure 800

    Rice Concedes ‘Tactical Errors’ in Iraq

    UN Security Council calls on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment

    At least 57 die as Bahrain cruise boat sinks

    Iran Test-Fires Missile Able to Duck Radar

    Explosion kills Palestinian militant amid spreading violence

    4 Israelis killed by suicide bomber at entrance to West Bank

    NY releases 9/11 emergency calls

    13 Ugandan pupils die in school fire

    Now can you explain to me why your self-opinionated A-list genuflection matters to anyone?

  14. Figo

    Dear Dominic, what do the news events you mention (all tragedies and full of hurt for those involved, no doubt) have to do with the suject matter here? nothing. your comment has zero value, because you make a value judgement where none is necessary or called for. the brutal murder of israelis, less than 60 KM from the location where I comfortably sit and type away this remark, has nothing to do, morally, ethically and according to any common sense, with the battle of blog egos Nick points us to. the events don’t compare, don’t cancel each other out, and there’s no reason to put them on the same scale of importance (or value).

  15. Carl P. Corliss

    So umm… What exactly was it about Werner Vogel that was rude? Was it that he was asking hard questions, or something else entirely..? Can’t seem to find a detailed explaination on exactly how he was rude – any help would be appreciated :-)

  16. Chris Peden

    I have to disagree on Amazon’s service. I have been a customer for years and they have taken care of me better than ANY local establishment. Low prices, speedy shipping, etc. I’m very happy thus far.

    Secondly, I don’t see why we need an Amazon blog. I love the customer feedback as my information. Lastly, blogging just to blog is stupid. Amazon is in business to make money, unlike most “bloggers”.

  17. Wayne

    Joshua Greenbaum had had some things to say about blogs/wiki’s in the corporate enterprise:

    “I hate to be the one to throw cold water on the latest cool thing, but wikis and blogs ā€” and all the other unwashed, untethered, so-called “new information” sources proliferating across the enterprise ā€” are, all too often, just a lot of bunk masquerading as information.”

  18. Kluelos

    Chris, I’m glad you’re happy. I’ve been lied to and I’m not happy. If customer feedback were enough information, how do I convey to Voegels the number of times I HAVEN’T bought from Amazon because I chose to do business with someone I trusted more? Should I send an email each time?

    “Dear Amazon.com,

    Hey, just wanted you to know I bought the following from somebody else instead of you because I don’t trust you.”

    To whom would I send it?

    Who would read it?

    Who would reply? Another droid quoting “policy”? Who would at least try to look like they took me seriously and were concerned that I thought so ill of Amazon?

    With a known public dialogue Amazon could at least pretend they gave a hoot. And if they ignored me some more on that forum, people like you would be asking, “hey, what about Kluelos’ complaint? He has a valid point but you haven’t answered him.”

    You question why they need a blog. This is why. Because markets ARE conversations, and Amazon just doesn’t listen. They’re in business to make money, as you point out. But they won’t make any from me because I don’t trust them, for cause, and they don’t care about that. Fine. Very old-school, but fine.

    McLeod & Co. don’t think that’s OK. New-school.

    Meanwhile, I will tell everyone I know about their false advertising, and they will all believe me, or check it out for themselves and then believe me, so we’ll form our own little knot of anti-Amazon. Which will spread.

    They need a blog because they could then engage in a conversation with customers — possibly to publicly expose me as an unreasonable fool for all to see, to their advantage — or to learn that they have a problem which I was just early to discover, and to forthrightly acknowledge and correct that problem for all to see, also to their advantage.

    Then this little knot of anti-Amazon would dissolve instead of spreading, and all of us would think as highly of Amazon as you do.

    This is what the blog advocates are trying to tell you and Voegels.

  19. Ivan Pope

    A few comments:

    Blogging just for the sake of blogging – of course, that’s the correct starting point. What else would you blog for? Don’t even think about blogging to make your company more money – it just won’t work. Just blog about what you do, what your company does. That humanises.

    CTOs. Is the CTO really the person you want to believe on blogging? Just because someone is the CTO of Amazon, why would they get it? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. If they blogged, we’d know.

    Dominic – war and rumours of war. What have these news stories got to do with this discussion? Everything. Blogging is part of a conversation. Almost without exception the stories you post are about situations where the conversation has broken down with a vengence. So blogging, the human art of conversation, is an antidote, a remedy for human misunderstanding. So, blog at work, blog at home, blog at school, blog in your politics, blog in your love, blog in your hate. The more you blog, the less space for misunderstanding. OK, it won’t stop boats accidentally sinking, but in time it may make the world a better place.

    Blogging is the conversation. It’s part of humanity.

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