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Microsoft Hires Another Technology Evangelist

by Robyn Tippins on February 15, 2007

Bloggers are in high demand lately. Everyone’s scoring one, and the bigger the pre-existing authority, the better.

Microsoft’s first technology evangelist, Robert Scoble, was a smashing success for the company. When he left Microsoft for Podtech, the gaping hole had to be filled. Their first hire was Jon Udell, and now they’ve hired Micheal Gartenberg of Jupiter Research.

From Marshall K at TechCrunch:

Gartenberg has served as the Jupiter Research vice president and research director for the Personal Technology & Access and Custom Research groups. He’s a highly respected analyst who was quoted extensively by press upon the release of Vista. ”The challenge,” Gartenberg said about Vista two weeks ago, “is that it’s the only product on the market that has to appeal to the CIOs of Fortune 500 companies and my mother all at the same time.” Presumably Gartenberg’s mother is now more favorably inclined than she might have been before.

The announcement has been received warmly but a few questions have been raised. It’s a perfect example of one of today’s leading questions: is the benefit of bringing a respected public figure onto the payroll greater than the potential loss of credibility that person risks?

I’m not sure there is a considerable amount of credibility lost, but that really depends on how smooth the transition turns out to be… I think that Anil Dash‘s comment set the tone succinctly, however.

As excited as I am for the increasing respect and attention being paid to the need for technology evangelism, I’m frustrated that there’s still a focus on the horse-trading aspect of nabbing a “big” blogger. These aren’t sports teams — the only thing that matters when a tech company hires a blogger, journalist, or analyst is if that person’s work helps grow the company, increase customer satisfaction, and move the industry forward.

He also makes mention of a question that has been plaguing me, but I haven’t had the words to express in such a concise manner.

The disclosure fixation is very often a loud distraction, shifting focus from the hard question of whether all of us are helping our companies succeed. And all the debates about “is this a conflict of interest?” often act as a topic of discussion when the things we’re blogging about weren’t interesting enough to attract attention on their own.

Is disclosure for disclosure’s sake all that important? I work with several companies. I’ve listed them on my blog. I don’t, however, mention that I am being paid by them in every post I write. If I did that, I’d be a moron.

Do we go overboard in our rush to not be called a shill, to the detriment of our clients/employers?