Note: This post has been edited to reflect Doug Seven's inherent greatness. His site was actually the first .NET Web site in the world prior to Gotdotnet in July 200 - Microsoft's first .NET Web site was Gotdotnet in November 2000.
Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid has a great post I want to riff from a bit.
He talks about the "I was there" factor - "I was there when the Red Sox won the American League" - and how important that is to people:
When people talk about your product five, ten, twenty years from now, will they be saying "I was there"? Does your product have the "I was there" factor?
In my own humble way, I think that we have some of that dynamic with Gotdotnet, and the two employee blogging sites. The blogging sites have it perhaps a bit easier - the first time Microsoft explores the world of blogging, and so even if you are the 1,500th blogger instead of the first ( I think Don Box was the first blogger on Gotdotnet), you know you are taking part in something that will change this company forever. It already has.
I really unnerved people in my Microsoft interviews by telling them ".NET will eat the company, and I want to be there." I saw this sea change in 2001 where the technical openness of the .NET Framework and the CLR and the excitement around how much further all this could go - the .NET sea change upsetting quite a number of organizational applecarts.
Those were the interviews Microsoft didn't hire me, by the way. :)
Only MSDN (who perhaps knew more from all those SDKs they had to put online) eventually understood what I meant and why I liked the idea of the transformation. Or maybe they were just more nuts than the other people. We can't rule that part out either.
Gotdotnet, the first Microsoft .NET site had its chance 5 years ago to have folks realize how pivotal they were in the community - but it has a new chance now, a chance to show even more what happens when Microsoft gets outside itself and over itself and stands with the people it serves. We have a chance to reclaim the legacy of Gotdotnet without the site crashing and loud cursing from Scott Hanselman. We have t-shirts, dammit. We are in it for the long haul.
Microsoft employee bloggers have a chance to show the world something too - their projects, their code, their lives, that they too, are there. That they want to be there when you are ready to comment or take up a dialogue in a forum. That both of us are present, accounted for, and utterly there where it is happening. That the bloggers are not only down and jiggy with it, they are with you.
In a week I'll be in the UK, and jetlagged, and with people I've never met trying to spread the word. About Blogs. About GDN. About how much I need a cup of coffee right now. Or tea. But I will be there as much as I can be, beyond being merely present. Because the time is now for us to change the world, one present moment at a time. One blog post at a time. One Web site at a time.
See you on the the other side of the new world. And props to Technorati for live8.