Friday, February 02, 2007

On Being Candid

A young friend, whose name I won't mention, hit me on email the other day. He writes a newish wireless blog and had the opportunity to interview a fairly high level executive at a larbge handset OEM. My friend works at a wireless company and although these two companies don't directly compete on most days, there are certainly environmental tensions between them given how they fit into the entire ecosystem.

My friend had sent a series of thoughtful questions and asked my opinion on them. I thought they were good questions and I was thinking of several others that were even more provocative before he sent me a follow up email saying that he had been persuaded to not go forward with the interview. This of course was very good advice for a couple of reasons, one which some immediately to my mind involves a slight slip I did many years ago.

I started trolling around Usenet groups towards the end of 1994 and I spent a fair amount of time on the alt.cyberpunk board. At that time I was working at Sony Pictures. It is hard to describe my glee when I got the opportunity to help work at the premiere of Johnny Mnemonic given my interest in William Gibson and all things cyberpunk. After seeing the show I posted some comments on the board (which I can't seem to find now) about what I likd about the show, etc.

Later that same day I was emailed by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times by the name of Amy Harmon. She asked me if I would be willing to do an interview. Naive as I was I said sure. The next day I was aghast when I read the less the glowing comments that I had made about the movie that was just opening up. Of course later that morning the head of the studio called my boss to find out what drugs I was on.

I have certainly learned a lot about the press since then and consider myself a much more cautious person as it relates to the press. Beyond this example for me though I think it is important to say something else about blogs and the desire to be candid. If you are a journalist or a pundit I think you can freely say what you want. If you work in an industry I think you have to be extremely careful about what you can and cannot write. Certainly the things that I currently have the most insight on today are related to mobile communities and the wireless industry and the various players within that framework. And in general a reader of this blog will find that I try to avoid any comment, editorial or opinion. Most tragically from my perspective is that I don't really get to share any of the learnings that we have accumulated with Rabble over the last several years. Maybe sometime down the road.

Instead my blog is mean to capture a few things, what technology I am playing with, what I see as important in user created media, and as a communication vehicle to keep in touch with my friends I see infrequently. For me there is plenty to talk about with getting sideways or opening yourself up to misinterpretation by others.

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