This post is not actually about the symposium, though it is written while still at it (I'm overhearing a birds of a feather about what is identity and culture in the online space).
This post riffs off Chris Sells' recent post about Robert Scoble. I just saw Robert (he came over to this conference from WinHec) and I made the V-for-victory arms and he joked "I still have my job!" I got to turn to David Weinberger (co-author of Cluetrain Manifesto) and said - "Yes, as David and I chatted before, the proof the "Blog Smart" system is working is that Scoble still works for us and also, that the dialogues he creates are so valuable that he can get permission to link to a copy of Steve Ballmer's email."
This was a key moment for Microsoft far beyond the social, and political arguments that's going on about the legislation. Feelings on this subject run high and are well-debated elsewhere (including Scoble's blog, since he's linking to all sorts of differing viewpoints from his own). The reason I'm proud of Microsoft AND Scoble was the Blog Smart ethos really held here: Scoble let the world know his opinion differed from his employer's stance, and that he'd work internally on the issue. The powers that be graciously let the world in on information that only Microsoft employees had seen to that point, but that clarified more deeply the company's point of view. Scoble meanwhile has been linking to a lot of people, including his boss who disagrees with him, and creating a dialogue where none existed before. This is the way it's supposed to work from the Cluetrain Manifesto on out. This is where you see Microsoft as a corporate entity and as thousands of individual thinkers. The world outside is not so gracious, but heck, we knew that already.
You can argue that this wouldn't work for other people. You could argue that no one would do it if Scoble didn't. I'm not so sure about that. I do know that Scoble's was the first post I could find from Microsoft bloggers about it (which might be a function of his Google love perhaps). that weekend. Cyrus was not far behind. The debate goes on, and will go on, as it should. This is serious business that people care about. But look what it teaches us:
Microsoft is big enough to handle the diversity of opinion in its employees. It's big enough to handle Scoble's critiques. It's big enough to TALK and LISTEN.
Now, I've let Chris Sells know that if he ever compares ME to Geraldo, he's a dead man. :P