Friday, March 31, 2006

Blogging Smackdown: Amazon doesn't want to get Naked

If you haven't heard about it already, by noon you will be sick to death of hearing about how Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels beat up on Naked Conversations co-authors Shel Israel and Robert Scoble yesterday when the 2 stopped by to talk to him as part of Amazon's 'Fishbowl' series.

The Amazon spin is that Vogels asked the boys tough questions that they didn't have the answers for. They were expecting 'Golden Boy' treatment, and instead were asked for hard numbers and hard logic to back up their claims that corporations can benefit from blogs. They didn't have it, and choked.

The Naked Guys' spin is that Vogels wouldn't let them tell their side of the story, and was a less than gracious host. Shel was 'shell-shocked' by the treatment he got from Vogels, and Scoble admits that he didn't give good answers.

From everything I've read so far, it sounds like Vogels came into the meeting with a chip on his shoulder. He seemed to be presenting his case as 'we already sell a buncha books, how many more can we sell from blogging?'. I think in the case of a big company like Amazon, the benefit comes from making the company 'smaller'. The bigger a company gets, the greater the chance that they are going to get detached from their customers, and that customer service will suffer. Blogs are a great way to reduce company size. It gives the average customer a sense of interaction and input with the monolithic corporation. That's extremely valuable for a company such as Amazon.

And to be honest, this probably was one of the first/few times that Shel and Scoble had to answer hard questions about corporate blogging. But what's going to happen next, is that Amazon and Vogels are going to spend the next day or so getting hammered in the blogosphere, while Shel and Scoble are comforted for being the naive lambs led to the corporate slaughter.

Hopefully, the results from this episode will be that Amazon realizes that even big and successful companies can benefit from a blogging program, and Shel and Scoble are a bit wiser the next time they sit down to 'discuss' Naked Conversations. Eventually, we should get to the place where companies are looking for a reason TO start a blogging initiative, instead of a reason NOT to blog.

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