November 2007

Hi, Mom!

We’re heading back to visit my Mom in Folly Beach, South Carolina, for a couple of days, so I won’t be online much.

Please try to keep the web running in my absence.



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“The Facebook betrayal – users revolt over advertising sell-out”

Nice article in by Susie Mesure and Ian Griggs in the Independent on Sunday on responses to Facebook’s new “social advertising” direction from users and consumer advocates.  The contrast betweeen the 35,000 people in “My photos are MINE! NOT Facebook’s! Change the Terms and Conditions” and less than 600 “fans” of Coke is a nice hook (although of course it’s early days yet).  Featuring a quote from my favorite privacy advocate, Deborah Pierce: “Users should be concerned. They have no idea who has access to information about them from the site.”

This follows on the discussions at the recent FTC Town Hall, an FTC letter from Center for Digital Democracy (Jeff Chester’s quoted in the article as well) and US PIRG,  and the call for a national “do not track” list by a broad coalition of organizations including Privacy Activism, EFF, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, World Privacy Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, and CDT.  One of the articles describing the do not track list called it the “first salvo in the next privacy battle” or something like that; looks like things are heating up quickly.



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“A bit sad”, a bit surreal … and a very good thread on Mini

Mini does a great job of simultaneously conveying the disappointment I heard from a lot of people about how my Microsoft career ended, as well as the surreality of my multi-cameo at the company meeting, which we were laughing about at my goodbye parties. An excerpt:

A lot of Microsofties interested in changing Microsoft’s internal and external-facing culture rallied around Mr. Pincus, who has had quite the distinguished Microsoft career. He gets given crap sometimes for being different or a self-promoter, but I just have to wonder what kind of leader or change-agent isn’t.

Anyway, it’s a bit sad for me to reflect on Mr. Pincus going quickly from being up on the big-screen several times at our 2007 Company Meeting to being shown that there was no home for him – and his refreshingly different spirit – at Microsoft.

Quick clarification: I feel like there were several possible homes for me at Microsoft, and it was more a challenge of trying to come up with the right role, as well as differences of opinions as to how my skills should be leveled and contributions should be evaluated. Still, the net result is the same. [At least for now — who knows what the future may bring?]

Appropriately enough, given my long-running unhappiness at Microsoft over the last three years of being ranked in the bottom 10% of my peer group,* the bulk of the thread so far is an excellent discussion of Microsoft’s review system and “the curve”. I’ve always thought the review-related discussions are one of the highlights of the blog; the anonymous posters who describe their score, compensation action, and often their reactions are a hugely valuable resource to everybody at the company — and a great example of why anonymous speech is so important to protect. This thread is one of the best. Worth checking out, and I’d say that even if I weren’t mentioned 🙂


* that’s 3.0/Limited/10% for those of you into ‘terms of art’ — see the thread on Mini for more details

social computing

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“Liminal states”

I’ve been looking around for the right title for the blog.  The initial working title was “Transitions (for the time being)” — “Transitions” being the closest word I had come up with so far, and completely in sync with my mindset as I was setting things up here, but probably not the title I’d want longer term.

Toying with the idea of something based on bardo, which is something that really resonates for me right now, I looked it up on Wikipedia and was rewarded with

The Tibetan word Bardo means literally “intermediate state” – also translated as “transitional state” or “in-between state” or “liminal state”. In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva.

Yeah.  That’ll work. At least for the time being.


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Not to sound like a cliche or anything …

… but I woke up this morning thinking today really is the first day of the rest of my life!” After which point I went back to sleep, and didn’t get out of bed until close to noon — I mean, might as well get the rest of my life off to a nice relaxing start. When I got up my first reaction was “geez, how 70s”, and then I realized that wasn’t clear when to start the 24-hour “first day” clock from; and in any case, I’m reading Dzogchen Ponlop’s mind beyond death, and had just encountered the timely reminder that “the duration of any moment is not the actual experience itself. Our sense of time comes afterward, outside of it.” Indeed. Still …

Yesterday was my last day at Microsoft, after being there 8 1/3 years. It’s been an amazing time (as the last six weeks of summing up, appreciation, and compliments from friends and colleagues, old and new, has helped remind me). I learned a lot there, grew a lot, and am really proud of what I accomplished.

I’m really excited about what’s next — can’t wait, in fact! The first step is to take some time off, and work on some projects with Deborah and hopefully some other friends as well … after that, we shall see; I’ll also be blogging, here, and will keep everybody posted. And it kind of feels like stepping off of a cliff and leaping into the void: exhilarating and a sense of total freedom.

Saut dans la vide

It may well take me a while to find my voice with this blog; in the short term, it’ll probably be a mix of personal stuff and talking about my writing, with some politics mixed in, and then more about some of the projects as we get going on them. I’m sure there will be a wiki involved as well at some point and a bunch of experimenting with different look-and-feels and perhaps writing style as well. It’s all pretty ad hoc and informal right now…. still not sure how often I’ll be posting, or the mix between long and short posts. Please stay tuned and bear with me as I work things out!



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