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Amazon CTO Rips Blogging Authors a New One 115

theodp writes "Following what was characterized as rude treatment of invited guests in a confrontation at Amazon HQ, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels turned to his personal blog to give author Shel Israel a public scolding for suggesting Amazon doesn't 'get' blogging (Amazon's blogging innovations include 'faux' personal blogs and patent-pending plogs). Vogels went on to voice concerns on Israel's blog that blogging could be too distracting for Amazon employees - think the self-proclaimed guy-with-guts challenged CEO Jeff Bezos about the distractions of his space exploration efforts?"
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Amazon CTO Rips Blogging Authors a New One

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  • Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:24AM (#15032030)
    Classic slashdot. A ridiculously biased summary, and the last point is completely irrelevant to the subject.

    Hell yeah! CTO doesnt 'get' blogging!

    I wish more people were as blunt and forthcoming as Mr.Vogels.
    • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrAnnoyanceToYou ( 654053 ) <dylan.dylanbrams@com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:38AM (#15032062) Homepage Journal
      Biased or not, this particular blog entry is one of those entries that defines blogging - pointless, small in both approach and impact, boring, and overhyped.

      Around paragraph 3, I thought, "Go write some code or fill out a 27B stroke 6 somewhere." The amazing thing about modern society is that it hasn't produced more great art with more people, it's just produced more junk to get in the way.

      The summary is biased, the articles are biased, the only people interested in this particular fight are those who follow successful internet people around like pasty white guy paparazzi. Give it a rest.
      • You must not "'get it'".
        • What I don't get is why blogging is where they chose to hit the brakes. They've got company reviews, customer reviews, customer images, book lists, citations, similar book listings, forums, and damned if they don't have wikis! It's A Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection (Paperback) [] has its own wiki! God help me if I scroll down too fast, or I'll never be able to find the book description again.

          So why stop at blogs? Is this like my alcoholic pothead friend with a meth problem who doesn't take aspi

      • You forgot to mention Full [] of []
        h [] y [] p [] e [] r [] l [] i [] n [] k [] s []
      • by Tim C ( 15259 )
        27B stroke 6? 27B stroke 6?!?! Aarrrggghhhh!

        Now look what you've done!

        The amazing thing about modern society is that it hasn't produced more great art with more people, it's just produced more junk to get in the way.

        That's not amazing. Creating art takes talent; creating great art takes great talent. The majority of people with the talent are already doing it; most of those who could but choose not to aren't going to change their mind just because of the Internet.
      • Re:Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lavaface ( 685630 )
        The amazing thing about modern society is that it hasn't produced more great art with more people, it's just produced more junk to get in the way.

        While modern society has certainly produced more junk, I believe it's disingenuous to say that there isn't an astonishing amount of "good" art these days. Regardless of your taste, there are at least hundreds of people out there making something you will aesthetically appreciate. I doubt this was the case even a hundred years ago.

        • What I found most amusing about the grandparent was the implicit agreement with the reader on a rapport based on mutual contempt for everyone else, when in fact the reader who is most amenable to forming such a rapport probably holds the poster in contempt. It's a rapport based on the illusion that rapport is even possible between such spouting volcanic islands of bile, a brotherhood of shared arrogance. Truly, this is a work of high art.

      • You're right, we're all extremely unfortunate to be living in a period when no great art is being produced.

        I'm extremely jealous of people who were alive in Vincent van Gough's time. They all got to appreciate his fresh art as it was being created.

        For the sarcastically-challenged: Did you ever consider that great art is rarely recognized as great during the artist's lifetime, and assuming that no great art is being produced today is just incredibly moronic?

    • Just warming up for April Fool's Day.

      Oh joy.

    • Classic slashdot. A ridiculously biased summary, and the last point is completely irrelevant to the subject.


      Hell yeah! CTO doesnt 'get' blogging!

      Yeah, that's why they have a search engine (A9 []) and remote search protocol (OpenSearch []) that's focused on blog type information. All you need to do is to look at the list of sources that it uses and implementations of the spec ... most of them are blogging software.

      Having read TFA (after finding it in all the links) seems to me like it's publicity for the off
    • With that many links to different stories, I couldn't tell which one actually WAS the story. Besides, by the time I got to the end of that deluge of dreck, I couldn't care less.
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:26AM (#15032032)
    What the hell is this about again?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:27AM (#15032034)
    More drama than a spanish soap opera. The only sad part is this lacks the good looking women and I can understand what they are saying...
  • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <{frogbert} {at} {}> on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:27AM (#15032035)
    This story reminds me of a saying, something about arguing on the internet being like running in the special olympics... I can't quite remember how it ends though.
  • by MasJ ( 594702 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:37AM (#15032058) Homepage
    Wow, am I the ONLY one here who can't make head or tail of what the text in that post says ? It's really confusing. Who did what to who and what happened then and where to who after what was done ? Mind clearing things up a bit ?
    • You're not the only one.
    • Two "important" bloggers go to Amazon, guys at Amazon act like jerks because they want to "test" them, everyone blogs about it instead of discussing their problems with each other.

      The "whocares" tag is pretty accurate, but I did find it somewhat interesting... like soap opera interesting. :-/
    • Amazon invites a couple of people to speak about corporate blogging, that being the general idea of having your own employees have blogs to talk about the company. Amazon CTO asks them some pointed questions during the presentation, which CTO considers to be rather obvious questions. The speakers are unable to answer his questions in an adequete manner, and consider the CTO to be "rude", as do some others at the presentation. CTO counters by saying that he didn't mean to be "rude", but felt that the present
  • It's ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by melted ( 227442 )
    It's ironic that the guy himself has a blog, he's an Amazon employee and he publishes "Amazon employees shouldn't be blogging" diatribes on it. I mean, I myself think blogs are idiotic with rare exceptions [], but his choosing of the medium is entertaining.
    • It's ironic that Israel said that Amazon "dosn't get blogging" when "the guy himself" has a blog.
    • I mean, I myself think blogs are idiotic with rare exceptions, but his choosing of the medium is entertaining.

      I think his point was that blogs have no role in Amazon's business model - which appears fairly obvious to me.

      The place blogs generally seem to occupy in the internet is the "having a big whinge" category, and that's exactly what he's doing on his blog, in reply to the book's authors' whinge on their blog. Probably after this /. article, lots of other bloggers will get whinging about the fact that
    • That's hypocrisy, not irony.
  • > Amazon CTO Werner Vogels turned to his personal blog to...

    Will corporations someday have a Chief Blogging Officer?
  • It's Amazon's CTO. Who cares what he says on his personal blog? It's not like he runs the company or anything like that. Him getting in an argument with a blogger isn't even newsworthy! The terrible summary isn't helping this "article" along, either.
  • Ah, the blogerati (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:41AM (#15032077) Homepage
    I generally enjoy reading Scoble's blog because I think he's very honest about what he's doing and he does it in an environment that is probably not very conducive to the "total openess" he wants to have. He also gets points for even trying (though Microsoft was really one of the first larget tech corps to institutionalize blogging).

    That said... it seems to be this is a classic case of mass-induced elitism. I don't think the Amazon guy was off in his line of questioning. What's good for Microsoft or Sun might not be for Amazon or eBay, yet Scoble and his friend come across as the quitenssential "it" boys, giggling and stomping their little feet because the hick across the table doesn't know what the small fork is for - as if his life depended on it.

    I suppose if you live in that "blogosphere" long enough it must look to you like everyone is blogging and, more importantly, that everyone should be doing it. I don't think that's the case. I've found many corporate attempts at blogging to be underwhelming and downright stupid - if you don't "get it" then just don't do it at all. I doubt many millions of Amazon customers are going to decide one day that they won't spend a dime online anymore because Amazon doesn't have a blog.

    The blogorati need to come out into the light and look around once in a while.

    • Not to mention, some of us don't blog at work becuase were BUSY WITH WORK.

      I work hard. I have little free time in my life. After I come home I want to rest, talk to my wife, eat some dinner, play with my son, go outside. I still need to do the dishes and take out the trash, repair the door. Maybe I'll browse a few websites and make a few posts on ./ , but honestly-- some bloggers seem to have a ton of free time. Are they living in their parents basement, working at some cushy job or what?
    • by kevinbr ( 689680 )
      I work as a consultant in the Mobile Portal space. The amount of times La La people walk in the door and try to have a love fest with marketing about hot hot hot stuff, yet with ZERO facts of figures to back it up makes me ....gag.

      Having grilled vendors before, I can imagine that he was harsh but fair. The fair bit stems from the fact that obviously they ( Amazon ) took time to arrange and attend a meeting. If I attend a meeting I want to be INFORMED. Not entertained by personal "opinion". I have plenty of
    • That said... it seems to be this is a classic case of mass-induced elitism. I don't think the Amazon guy was off in his line of questioning. What's good for Microsoft or Sun might not be for Amazon or eBay, yet Scoble and his friend come across as the quitenssential "it" boys, giggling and stomping their little feet because the hick across the table doesn't know what the small fork is for - as if his life depended on it.

      Indeed. Scoble and Isreal both gush over how other people fell at their feet to recie

      • > (Scoble's entry in particular sounds like a spoiled little child.)

        I don't know. Shel Israel is the one with the child's cartoon on his blog mocking Vogels, while Scoble in his post owned up to the notion that perhaps his presentation wasn't entirely up to scratch.

        Still, the inflated egos of the "bloggerati" is just stunning. These folks truly see themselves as modern-day Socrates (Socratii?) dispensing wisdom from the marble steps. Of course Socrates was actually adept at handling challenges to his
  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:44AM (#15032086) Homepage Journal
    It would seem that if the Amazon guy doesn't want to kowtow to Mr. Israel (and why would he), the blogger guy is likely to wage some sort of blogger-jihad against Amazon.

    Is that likely to cause them any trouble? Amazon seems to be quite good at what they do.

    I have a feeling that this is a case where he can tell Israel to kiss his ass.
  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:46AM (#15032090) Homepage
    You'll just get muddy and the pig enjoys it.

    I'm not sure if I'm referring to the meeting in the story or the post on Slashdot, either...

  • by The_reformant ( 777653 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:47AM (#15032096)
    I read all the trackbacks and comments linked and basically it reads like a polite version of a forum flamewar. You can actually almost see that behind their carefully creafted words they really at heart want to write something like "OMG ur teh gay!". If this is what 2 "blogging poster boys" and the CTO of one of the most high profile online retailers do with their blogs then I think Amazon and anyone else would do well to stay as far clear of them as they can.
  • Exceptions (Score:3, Funny)

    by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:56AM (#15032121) Homepage
    You've probably noticed that a bunch of big companies are getting this or that smart person to come by and chat with the troops on particular topics.
    Oh? Yahoo got Tom Cruise.
  • From one click purchasing to one dick blogging, is there anything Amazon doesn't have patents on?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mommy, the fucker's been rude to me. He a bitch. Bitch. No, you a stupid bitch... Who's the bitch? Shut up, they're all bitches. Bitches.
  • If you follow that link for "plogs" they go on to describe RSS feeds, as currently used in ALL BLOGGING SITES/PROGRAMS to allow inter-blog connectivity, and management therein (LiveJournal calls it syndication/etc.). Yet again idiots are attempting to patent something that was already in wide use when they "thought it up".
  • by Ibanez ( 37490 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @02:51AM (#15032242)
    And really love some good flamewar action. So I saw "rips a new one" and was geared up for one hell of a great story.

    Boy, was I wrong. I need to update my definition for that phrase.
  • Drama drama drama blog drama drama Amazon drama blog smug smug drama blog Amazon smung drama blah.

    Why is this news we give a flying leap about?
  • by tgma ( 584406 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:02AM (#15032263)
    Having been in business (finance) for 15 years, I have been in a similar position to the CTO on occasion. The world is full of armchair quarterbacks, who are able to scratch a living in journalism and from writing books. Some of these people have real insights, some are just cobbling together platitudes on fashionable subjects. By and large, I tend to discount people who sell opinions on any subject, if they have never tried to make a living out of the implications of that opinion.

    My feeling is that this CTO is in the position that well-meaning people are happily giving him advice all the time about what Amazon should be doing. He has limited resources in terms of time and money, so he needs a well-primed bullshit filter to make sure that he's not wasting his time. The first thing you do when talking to a consultant is to establish their bona fides, and to test them on the basis for their recommendations. You can start to believe their general statements, when you can see that their conclusions are based on real research and not thought experiments.

    When someone is using the phrase "you just don't get (whatever subject)" I counter that it's up to them to convince me. There were lots of people putting crazy valuations on internet stocks in the late 90s. When you asked them how they justified the valuations, they would come up with over-optimistic projections about the amount of money that could be made from the net. Often they would assume that one company's revenues would be greater than the entire spending on that product category. Eventually the conversation would get to a stage where it was clear that they had no data to support their hypotheses, and they would wheel out the phrase "you just don't get it".

    They could just as easily have said "oh ye of little faith". That's appropriate in a religious setting, but not where my clients' money is concerned. It's also my experience that people who have faith in irrational things tend to view any aggressive questioning as rude. I remember one of my analysts getting very upset when it was pointed out to her that her opinion on a particular company was at odds with her own facts - her only defence was to scream at me for being rude. Often if people have no real counter-arguments, they react to bad news and criticism by criticising the way it was delivered.

  • 1. Amazon is a serious company that's about "Getting Work Done", not the very vague "Getting It", which is about the same as "Being In". Seeing that Amazon is a successful dotcom for years, I say they 'Get It'

    2. Bloggers want to whine, preferably for money, and think everyone should love them, and be and think the same. You can blog about what you want, just pretend it's the greatest thing in the world.
    The whole blogosphere is nothing more than a bunch of self-basting ego-fornicators.
  • ...and Amazon customers clean their old ones. On the cheap too [].
  • So these guys think that Amazon doesn't "get" blogging. Well, what if Amazon does get it And Mr. Israel and others are the ones who don't? And what is this "rude treatment" I hear? The guys went to Amazon to talk about blogging. And they were asked some hard questions. Is that "rudeness"? No it's not. It seems to me that the complainers are thinking that "we are mighty blog-experts, and everything we say is gold. Asking us questions is rude and if you disagree with us, then you do not "get" blogging, since
  • What is blogging all about? Whining, Soapboxing, Browbeating. None of these activities are particularly useful, especially on the company dime.
  • Buddy Holly dies = the day the music died

    Blog becomes a nauseating, overused word = the day the internet died
  • There's way too many people drinking the blogging/web 2.0 Kool-Aid these days. It it's "business" blogging, it should be about the bottom line. The Amazon CTO's questions are good ones, and Scoble and Israel didn't offer meaningful answers until afterward. It does sound a bit like he ambushed them, though ... the blogger boosters arrived for a fun chat to promote their book, and found a business meeting breaking out. It'll probably help Scoble sell more books.

    Of course, this was only the second-best drama

  • All the trillions of therapists, counselors, web forums/chat boards, tv talk shows, cable shows, radio call in shows where we get to bitch, whine and generally engage in various forms of masturbation, are apparently not sufficient.

    We now need our employers to provide a soapbox, so we can engage in wanking at work on our blog in the two hours we dont spend on myspace/youtube/googlevideo/slashdot/heavy/fhm/st u ff.

    it is a shame that scoble and israel can actually publish such fuzzy horseshit and be trea
  • I was amused to see a story about me [] in a slashdot entry. Certainly I have some opinions on the Amazon blogging issue :-)

    Here's my homepage [] (including my notes about the Seattle P-I article []) and here's my blog entry [] about this. I'll continue revising it.

    -ted (I left Amazon earlier this year)
  • A conversion list [] talking about Werner Vogel's recent post about Naked Answers []. It is amazing to see so many bloggers are talking about it, including Scoblizer, Matthewingram, Rick Segal, etc.
  • Seriously,

    I followed the links and cross links to articles, blog entries that quote other blog entries... what do I get? Something worse than a USENET flamewar because the conversation is logically scattered in multiple places.

    AOL turned off their USENET gateways. USENET is usable again, right?

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27