Pre-blogging the PDC

As Microsoft gears up for its annual Professional Developers Conference, Michael Herman -- CTO and founder of Parallelspace -- is asking some probing questions about the agenda:

Is the PDC going to be one large Microsoft "technology fair" with no strategic intent other than giving each product group a venue to promote their own technology bits? ...leaving developers to guess what is strategic and what is not. (50% probability) [Michael Herman: Are the PDC silos going to present a disconnected view of the Microsoft platform?]
Michael asked similar questions at the Office Developers Conference I attended in February. I transcribed one of them -- about Microsoft's hydra-headed electronic forms strategy -- in this blog item. Michael blogged the same exchange, and he also zeroed in on another set of questions and answers about unified storage that I transcribed from the February conference.

These questions are interesting, but I find the process itself even more so. The PDC tends to be ahistorical, focusing on futures more than follow-through. In the hallways you see attendees reading the entrails and trying to divine which futures will be strategic, at a level more granular than the grand themes: Windows, NT, Win95, the Internet, tablet PC, .NET, Hailstorm, WinFX.

For a couple of years now the PDC has been heavily blogged after the fact, and the blog halo has produced a combination of analysis and promotion. Will PDC blogging become a more proactive effort that connects the dots between past, present, and future strategies, and that seeks to influence the agenda accordingly? Will that effort succeed? I'm not expecting miracles, but developers are a lifeblood constituency for Microsoft, they have collective power, and communication is flowing in both directions as never before. We're still in the early phases of this grand experiment in collaboration, and I'll be fascinated to see how it turns out.

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