When I was working with Jim Karkanias at Merck on a clinical trial prototype, he left me with two pithy comments: “the tools sell themselves” and “doing business with Microsoft is like doing business with an ant colony.”  Believe it or not, neither of those comments was intended to denigrate the role of Technical Evangelism at Microsoft :)  And they stuck with me because they ring so true.

So here we are, running early adoption engagements that help identify and showcase the “why->what->how” value in using new platform capabilities, and the developers on the projects actually using the tools day-in day-out have some of the best insights – the tools sell themselves.

And regarding the ant colony, Jim marveled that all these aggressively independently executing Microsoftees were almost magically contributing to a greater whole –with no apparent task master.  There’s no one really in charge - no monolithic position on any given technology topic.

So if the tools sell themselves and there’s no single voice – how could we produce great material that succinctly summarizes the value in moving to a new platform?  That’s what crossed my mind as I was listening to NPR’s interview with the guy behind the LA Times Wikitorial.  Why not try that community approach for product marketing material – see what happens.

Nowadays, some of the best “Marketing” is happening in a Cluetrain Manifesto style expository conversation taking place at scale in community blogs – 1000s of them.  The problem is blogs stink at synthesizing and summarizing those conversations at any given moment.  Where can I go for a synopsis of the top reasons to move to VS 2005?  Does that synopsis reflect the breadth and depth of the community’s actual project experience?  How could Marketing datasheets become succinct and accurate reflections of the real-life project experiences of the community?

That’s what I hope becomes of these High Five WikiSheets – that they become a community resource filled with meaty and succinct articulation of the “why->what->how” perspective on platform technologies.  We'll see... go there and weigh-in.