WebReview covers Blogger March 9, 2001 10:29 AM   Subscribe

If anybody's interested, there's a new article on Blogger up on WebReview.
posted by harmful to General Weblog-Related at 10:29 AM (13 comments total)

Arrrgh! I can hardly read this non-even-reasonable-facsimile of an interview without retching (though I managed by filtering out Stone's questions). This merely strengthens my belief that Biz Stone is a monumental twit.
posted by Avogadro at 11:19 AM on March 9, 2001

Good god, that was the stupidest thing I've ever read. (Not Ev's part, of course, that was pretty good, but the rest of it more than made up for it.)
posted by kindall at 1:34 PM on March 9, 2001

Who in the hell is this guy Biz Stone, and why does he seem to think the interview format is about him? That was excruciating--did Ev have to really put up with that crap, or was it a cutesy bunch of editing?
posted by Skot at 3:08 PM on March 9, 2001

Does anyone think it's weird that the Creative Director of Xanga.com, a direct competitor to Blogger, interviewed the co-founder of Blogger? "Biz" writes about Blogger (and Metafilter) in this WebReview article.
posted by waxpancake at 8:08 PM on March 9, 2001

But, you know, even Ev isn't perfect here.

Ev: I'd hire a sys admin to keep the servers up and running and an office manager to keep the business running. Then I'd go sit on a beach for a couple weeks to rest and think—if I could stand to for that long. Then I'd come back and hire a small crack team of developers and start building cool shit. I'd also get an office with windows. And, perhaps, a scooter to get to and from work—MUNI [public transportation in San Francisco] sucks, parking sucks worse.

He talks early in the interview about keeping focus and so on, but right here he still does what always bugs me about Blogger. OK, good idea, sysadmin, and office manager so he can focus on cool technology. But what's this stuff about windows and scooters? When people complain about Blogger not being a business but a hobby, that's what they mean.

This sounds harsh. I don't mean it to be, and I'm not trying to rag on Ev. It seems endemic to the Dot-Com Way. It just seems like professional people should be able to keep the distinction clear between their business and their lifestyle. Maybe it was part of the dot-com style not to separate them, maybe it was important in a market where salaries were high and you had to find some other way of convincing people to come to work with you, but it creates this impression that companies like Pyra were more about the zany antics of the twentysomething employees than about serving customers, and in the long run that erodes confidence rather than builds it. If I'm considering investing in Pyra, do I care about how the CEO gets to work?

When you're a billionaire with a track record of successes, then you can explain how your decision to ride a scooter was just the kind of the brilliant gonzo je ne sais quoi that made your company special and pushed it over the top, but when you're just the head of a failed dot-com, it's kind of irrelevant.
posted by rodii at 9:57 AM on March 10, 2001

Wow, rodii.

Why should there be a need to seperate work and personal life. Why can't the things that a person cares for, deeply, truly and in every grain of their being be what they do for a living?

To be able to take every piece of my own personal professional dream and to live that lifestyle and be that person in Real Life rather than just "After hours and on weekends, when I have the time." THAT is what life is about doing, striving to achieve that.

To be able to have that which makes me me part of my professional life and not have to be "Rob Drimmie, Applications Developer" at work and "Rob, the Real Outside of Work Rob," that's a dichotomy I'd rather not have to live.

Currently, I have to live that because I don't work at the perfect job, although that kind of job takes years of hard work to get to, when you can finally stop worrying all the time about just the roof over your head and the food on your plate and actually go out there and be what you want to be.

That's what Ev's trying to do, that's what Pyra's always been about, and that is why we're all such rediculous, fawning fans of the company and it's former employees, because everyone who worked there shared that vision with not only Ev, but with all of us who are out there trying to do the same damn thing.

It's not over. The corporate world of the Internet does not rule the network, we do. The people. And when there are people who are striving to prove that living a dream is not only possible on the Internet, but possible because of the Internet, because of this great facilitator of communications, those people should be applauded.
posted by cCranium at 1:13 PM on March 10, 2001

I know, Rob, I know. I agree totally, in principle, with the idea. That desire to have your work be a meaningful part of your life, not just a job, is why I originally ended up in academia. (Go ahead, laugh.) Maybe I've just caught the pessimism bug (academia will do that to you as quick as any economic downturn).

Remember the article we discussed here recently about the "running your business like grownups" idea? As irritating as it was to hear it expressed that way, the idea makes sense. There has to be a middle way between having your dreams ground into corporate powder and the 1995 Netscape work-as-happy-funtime meme. Especially at the executive level, and in such difficult economic conditions, the need to develop a more professional style seems more acute.

Again, not trying to harsh on Ev, but if I were a potential business partner, and I said "if I come in on this with you, what will you do differently?"--expecting to hear some intelligent analysis of Pyra's problems--and I hear "we need a sysadmin, an office manager, more windows and a scooter," I think I'd be thinking about my next appointment.

Before y'all flame me, I realize this was a side comment in a fairly lightweight interview. The point I'm trying to make isn't really about Ev and Pyra. I admire Pyra too, and I know everyone there worked their asses off to make it succeed. My question is about style: whether a happy-go-lucky approach to doing business (that all of us toilers in the less glamorous parts of the workplace envy so much) can adapt to a more "serious" economic climate. Sorry that it came out sounding so grouchy.
posted by rodii at 1:59 PM on March 10, 2001

You know, I just realised something. The quote you gave is quite drastically out of context without the question Biz asked, and I think our disagreement on the appropriateness of the answer is a result of different interpretations of that question.

Let me explain.
Biz: I agree! Toward that end, what would you do if someone gave you $2 million today?
See, in my interpretation, the "you" in the end of that sentance refers to Ev himself, not as Ev the Pyra-Representing Entity. If someone gave me myself $2 million dollars with no strings, I'd buy myself a house with a dedicated office area, wire it up real good (say, business class DSL) dump 10 grand or so into mostly free software-based workstations and servers (one tweaked Win 2k box for me to surf and play on) and go into business for myself, somehow.

Ev's already done the start of that, so I took his reponse as meaning what he'd do for his business (dump another million into it and hire another small, smart team for a similar payroll rather than hiring a farm of mediocre people to do the work) and what he'd do just for himself. The things he'd do just for himself are oriented to his business because he puts a huge part of himself into the business.

It's why so many of us embraced the Happy-Fun work environment, and many of them work out well. Microsoft still maintains - at the very least an impression of - a Happy-Fun environment rather than generic cubical farms with ties. Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic , iD, EA. Part of the known tradeoff is dedicating a huge portion of your personal life to these companies, which people do willingly and freely because their personal lives are already so intertwined with what they do professionally.

How many of us design or develop, support, or otherwise get paid to work in some development aspect of the Internet - from hardware even to people who still get paid in small to medium sized non-tech related companies (say, less than 100 employees in a manufacturing shop - too many asides! - ) to slap together something in Front Page 97 - and maintain our own, personal web sites.

And it's on those personal websites that the future of the Intenet lies. I'm now just rapidly veering into my cliched idealism, so I'll keep it short. We do things on our personal sites we'd never have the time to play and figure out on our professional sites, which means we perfect things for the professional sites which means we the creators can still, and have to, maintain the personal web. (pant pant) Okay, I'm done. Where was I?

Oh yes, "Adult" businesses.

My point, now that I've found it again, is that I still firmly believe that the "classic" geek dream of having our personal dreams realized in our professional lives is viable. From a personal and a corporate standpoint. It's a good way to live, and a profitable way to do business.
posted by cCranium at 9:58 AM on March 11, 2001

cC, Interesting. I'm still digesting it, but I must say, the metaness of all that was dizzying.

Re your point about the context: granted.

Look! I kin rite short!
posted by rodii at 3:59 PM on March 11, 2001

and why does he seem to think the interview format is about him?

Perhaps he's a graduate of the Joel Stein School of Journalism. Or he just spends too much time dreaming of being published in McSweeney's.
posted by aaron at 12:51 AM on March 12, 2001

rodii: Okay, I went off my rocker a bit, but basically my point is that I interpreted the question as Biz asking Ev what he would do if he were given the money, and it seems as though you interpreted the question as what Ev would do if Pyra were given the money.

And speaking of McSweeney's, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to Ev for using him as an Eggers-like construct. I don't know Ev, I don't know how he feels or how his personal life and his professional life interact, I'm essentially fictionalizing him for the purpose of exposing and exploring an aspect of my personality, and it's a pretty unfair thing to do.

If it's any consolation, it's a slobbering fanboy fictionalization. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:43 AM on March 12, 2001

Yep, like I said: granted.
posted by rodii at 4:58 PM on March 12, 2001

You and yer rite'in short.
posted by cCranium at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2001

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