The human face of Microsoft

David Stutz
Jean Paoli
A week ago Robert Scoble posted an item to his weblog that began: "Microsoft is jealous (and scared) of Slash Dot and Scripting News." His posting, which sparked a lively cross-blog conversation, continued:

One thing I've noticed is that Microsoft does not have a human face other than Gates and Ballmer. Everything you see about Microsoft has been "approved" by PR/marketing professionals. That's the way it was supposed to have been done in the old days, but today, one little jerk like me can post something on his weblog and, within hours, have several thousand very important readers. Today, we need human stories to tell about Microsoft, and we need human connections so we know who to start a conversation with. [ The Scobleizer Weblog]

I couldn't agree more. All that talent and passion and brainpower, but so few faces seen, and so few voices heard. One of the few public faces, David Stutz, left the company this week, with parting advice about openness.

There's only one David Stutz, but there are thousands of other passionate thinkers and doers inside Microsoft. One I've had the privilege to meet, recently, is Jean Paoli. Listen to the excitement in the man's voice. Here's a guy whose goal since the SGML days more than 15 years ago was to build tools that would put the power of semi-structured data and transformation into the hands of users. Now the goal is within reach, and he is so excited he can't sit still. I share Jean's passion for that goal -- and if you don't already, you would you if you could see him and hear him. But as Robert Scoble so rightly points out, Microsoft doesn't put these kinds of faces forward. Google couldn't even find me a picture of Jean to include here, hence the empty space where Jean's picture should be. I hope somebody will find me a picture, so I can update and fill that void.

Joshua Allen writes:

The people who happen to work at Microsoft are pretty immune to broad-brush stereotypes, and getting to know them as people is the best antidote to the seductive spielmeisters who tell bedtime stories about zombie borgs. That's why I'll keep pointing to Doug Purdy's blog about Macintosh and Religion rather than his "work-related" blog. It's Doug the person, not Doug the PR image, which is most useful for understanding the cat-herd nature of a place like Microsoft. Blogs are about people, period. [ Better Living through Software]

Exactly. A little more of Doug the person, and Jean, and a bunch of others, would go a long way.

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