We've had our first thankfully cool, overcast day here, and I finally feel like I can think again (anyone read Terry Pratchett? and how his troll Detritus' brain functioned better when supercooled?... that's me. :-) )
Today I had a brief but touching back and forth with the fellow who leads the Munich, Germany .NET user group. After sending some cranky feedback to the Gotdotnet feedback alias (yes, I really do read and respond to each email as close to within 24 hours as I can, so your ire is hot off the presses <g>), he and I chatted about what could be improved on Gotdotnet. Though he started off annoyed with us, at the end he was kind enough to say I was welcome to visit them in Germany any time.
It's community moments like that where my throat clenches up, tears well to my eyes, I bless my lucky stars I work for a great company like Microsoft, and devoutly wish I had a lavish expense account. Ooh, did I say that out loud? :-)
All humor aside, those connection moments actually are important to me. Yes, there's a lot of repetition in the customer support I do (read the Got Issues FAQ - all my wisdom is contained within, practically). But when you wander around Microsoft hearing folks talking in meetings about customer advocacy, it's nice to be able to say: “Well, the Gotdotnet folks I emailed with today really cared about X.“ Its wild to think that I'm really hearing complaints from all over the world. And granted, people are peeved all over the world, and I've gotta help them get over that, but at least they are talking to me. I'm not sure I can solve the world's communications problems and bring peace, but I can at least try and help you find that article link you need. And you know, who knows. Maybe that one little iota of knowledge I share to some faraway developers allows them to go on and create something better that the world has never seen.
However, as benevolent as I seem toward the community at large, I am truly not at all kind about the people terrorising blogs.msdn.com with their evil comment spam. I'm calling all mysterious vital forces of karma and machine vengeance (network cards for these guys, feel free to melt down now) because they really annoy the heck out of everyone and worse, they lie about their site's importance to Google by terrorising us. The main reason for the spam is to up some absolutely LAME site's Google ranking ('cause let's face it, if the site had any quality they wouldn't have to resort to spamming us to get Google love). Grrr!
Odds and ends: I had one of those odd cognitive dissonance moments Monday where I was in a strategic planning class, you know, a betterment-of-employees training sort of thing, but at the same time having to open Visual Studio and troubleshoot something at a very tactical level backstage on the MSDN site. Although overall I feel very lucky to be in this class - for our exercises I got to team up with the Xbox sports studio folks and they were very very cool. We “strategically planned” a very tasty mock product together that would dominate the Asian markets! It was neat!
Tying up a loose thread from a previous blog: yes, there is still duct tape on the floor in some areas of our building where the carpet has not yet been converted to MSDN carpet 2.0. We don't know why, but people have moved on from complaining about the carpet through establishing a higher consciousness of peace and love by going blithely on vacation. Not at work, no carpet. Very Zen.
I have high hopes for the nifty new community components, detailed by the mscom commmunity team in a previous post. With luck, we'll all praise Visual Studio and pass around the gin and tonics!
Another loose end: yes, we had another Drinking about Community (part III) but it was largely a blog-free zone. We had a pretty large group but Scoble couldn't make it, which was perhaps the only way we could pull this blog-free business off. :-) One of our attendees has an amazing idea for the next one that involves some derring-do by techies you know. We'll see if we can make that happen.
Until next time, live it vivid!