Microsoft Blogger: The World Would Descend Into Chaos Without the American Empire

Cortopolis: Cory, wrong again Well, one thing you can say about Cort Fritz is that the guy’s got balls. It’s not everyday you take on Cory Doctorow and the power of the largest blog on the internet boingboing.net. That’s what’s great about blogging. No matter who you are you have a voice and an opinion that is uniquely yours.

Still, blogging as a Microsoft employee is very different than blogging as Thomas Hawk. For better or for worse and despite the disclaimers to the contrary, what you write is in fact a reflection on the company. Most of Microsoft’s bloggers get this and use the philosophy of just being smart. Scoble is perhaps their best shining example of someone who can have a dissident opinion on some things even from within Microsoft but still is smart about what and how he blogs.

You see Cort, the problem is that words are sharp and something buried in a blog post can quickly become a headline. To come out and publicly say, “the world would descend into chaos without dependency on the American empire,” when you work for Microsoft (and point it at Cory Doctorow who is involved with the largest blog in the world) is just colossally stupid. Whatever the context, whatever the point, just really stupid. Given everything that Microsoft has gone through and the work that people like Scoble have done to try and publicly tone down a Microsoft message of arrogance, to say something like that is just nuts. If they were giving out Darwin Awards for bloggers, I’d have to say that Cort Fritz just earned one. I assume that he still is working for Microsoft of course. I couldn’t find confirmation on that per se, although I did find a press release that identified him as having worked there at least as of last year.

If I were Fritz I’d quickly apologize, blame the misjudgment in his choice of words on the passion of the moment and have someone else take on the issue in question on this whole Norway Media Center thing that Cory has a problem with. I’d make sure Waggner-Edstrom and Scoble were involved in cleaning this thing up and quick.

Unfortunately blogging can be messy. I hope that Microsoft continues to let their bloggers have free rein. Bloggers will absolutely make mistakes and I think those mistakes are by and large quickly corrected. The good that comes out of free unrestricted openness from Microsoft’s bloggers is a huge positive. By and large Microsoft’s bloggers are very smart and very careful.

Here’s the complete passage in question:

“Cory: What’s more, a Microsoft monopoly over the video they release means that Norwegian tech companies can’t made products that play back Norwegian video without permission from an American company — an American company that can withhold permission or charge whatever it wants for the privilege of playing back Norway’s storehouse of video.

Cort: The world would descend into chaos without dependency on the American empire. The last sentence is more than anti-Microsoft, it is anti-Capitalistic (read: anti-freedom). Yes, now that I have a SAAB my dealer can charge whatever they want for service and Gillette me to death with bait and switch pricing. Maybe they are and service is super profitable for them? humm. It seems ok so far. Last time I went in they fixed for free while i waited. Wonder why? If I were Cory would I be living in fear of their evil Capitalist leverage? Sucks to be you man.”

Now maybe I’m being somewhat hypocritical here. Thomas Hawk loves a good rant as much as the next guy and I’m certainly not one to shy away from using exaggerated language from time to time. Still, when working for Microsoft you have an added component to your blogging. I’d choose your words more carefully in the future Cort. And although there is nothing wrong with going after Cory Doctorow and the biggest blog in the world. If I were you and were going to make that move I’d probably run it by Wagg-Ed first or at least run a quick draft first by your guy Scoble.

It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds.

Update: Well that was quick. It looks like Cort’s already offered an apology for the “stupid parts.” He’s left the origional post up which is good. Censor it and the screen shots show up and it looks worse. He’s going to rewrite his post and put it up later. All smart first steps for handling this PR fiasco. Microsoft is handling this very well.

Here’s another idea Cort. When you apologize in the rewrite again, blame it on the passion. Say you just felt so passionately about working for Microsoft and you let your better judgement get away from you. People can identify with that and it’s obvious from your post that you do in fact feel passionately.

You can be damn sure that Wagg-Ed and the rest of the Microsoft PR machine is now in charge of whatever will be coming from Cort next — which is good.

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  1. thanks for covering this. you make good points. i wonder if this wil be a defining moment of sorts. stay tuned.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Putting a gag on the guy will be good? You just lost all my respect as well as rss sub.

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    I don’t think you should put a gag on the guy and I don’t think anyone can. It’s his blog in the end after all. But he should be smart. I think he can say what he needs to say to defend his position without making bold and offensive statements about American dominance in the world today. Particularly given the fact that many identify with a certain sense of corporate dominance and arrogance from Microsoft.

    Like it or not, he’s blogging publicly as an employee of Microsoft and talking about Microsoft technology in the post. He could have very easily made his same points without resorting to the rhetoric.

    If he wants to write a post that’s not about Microsoft technology but is about communism, the world and his view on the superiority of the American Empire, this is probably fine too. He can do whatever he wants, I’m just saying that if I were him I’d keep it out of a blog post on Microsoft technology.

    His comments in fact potentially are more likely to have Microsoft tighten the rein on their bloggers as a whole. Corporations in general are not particularly crazy about employee bloggers. They are hard to regulate, employees can say things inconsistent with a companies PR message, employees can accidently leak information, etc.

    Microsoft’s balance thus far has been pretty good. Their policy seems to be feel free to blog whatever you want but be smart. This policy has resulted in great freedom for Microsoft bloggers. Potentially offensive political comments in the context of an argument on Microsoft technology threaten an open corporate blogging policy which can potentially put a gag on a lot more than one guy.

    This is not about censoring Cort. He shouldn’t be censored — but I’d imagine he’s rethinking his approach right now.