I’m back from Seattle, and after my outbound trip, the return was uneventful. I’d hoped to come back with plenty of stuff to blog about but most of what I heard that was interesting is still confidential. Before I left I had time to do “the Walk of Pork” and check out some more of Seattle’s Pigs on Parade . This one was actually sponsored by Microsoft. Who says we don’t have a sense of humour ?
One of the side meetings we had in Seattle was a “Bloggers’ town hall meeting”, and the usual subjects came up. A commonly asked question goes “If I can’t write it on a ‘work’ blog can I write it on a ‘personal’ one ?” . “Ben”, my blog, stalker mailed Eileen (as email@example.com but we have his IP address), because he didn’t think I should post about “business travel rage“; he suggested I get “two blogs; one that deals with IT from a Microsoft angle that I can legitimately read at work and a ‘violence’ blog where we can all get our daily fix of automatic weapons, the ‘red mist'”. I’m unapologetic that I don’t stick squarely to my technology cluster, but blog interesting things that I come into contact with in my working life. The problem with having multiple blogs is that as soon mention that you work for Microsoft and things that you say will be linked to that if it makes sense. Political issues do have a place on a work blog because policies set by governments affects what we do, but Party politics shouldn’t appear on a company platform. – I want to write “Gordon Brown is a moron” or “Gordon Brown is a genius” a private blog would be the place and no-one is likely to run a headline “Microsoft attacks/praises Prime Minister” as a result. However if I were to write either of those about, say, Steve Jobs, you can see the headline “Microsoft attacks/praises Apple Boss” followed by “A Microsoft employee, writing on his blog said …” Talking to Steve (Lamb – not Jobs) he thought it was a sad that we can’t have individual freedom of speech because what we say isn’t seen as the speech of individuals. Of course people can blog under a pseudonym (I quite fancy “Borg-Pig 4/19”); but if you have to guard your anonymity that’s hardly individual freedom of speech either. There are things which might make good posts which I self-censor but so few could go on an out-of-Microsoft blog that I don’t see the point of having one.
It was in the process of explaining the importance of context that a lawyer from our games division told us the following – which he was happy for me to retell. In making modern video games it’s now quite common to make clay sculptures of the characters. These characters are dressed in their costume so that the clothes look right – which matters if the digitized image of the figure appears in the final game; underneath the characters are naked. The characters also need to be seen by people from legal, and during the production of Shadowrun they had to check out the figures of Naked Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Trolls. It was in this context that a lawyer came to demand a naked dwarf in his office. Not that the person who overheard him necessarily understood that at the time …
This post originally appeared on my technet blog.