Friday, December 08, 2006

The Jon Udell Challenge

Jon Udell of InfoWorld has announced a career change. He is going to work for Microsoft. When I heard this I almost fainted. Jon at Microsoft? And then I remembered a conversation that I had with him a few months back. He spoke of 'affecting change'. His position was that the divide between the turbo geeks and the average consumer of technology has grown to an unacceptable level. We, the software development community, have gotten so wrapped up in the technology that we forgot about who it serves and why.

For Jon, I am happy - he deserves good things in life. For myself, I am sad. There is a part of me that enjoys going to read about Jon's latest geek adventure. I realize that I do so for one reason. He is so incredibly smart that it makes me feel stupid. That feeling of stupidity motivates me to learn more. I really hope that Jon doesn't become one of those mindless Microsoft snobs who views the world from a purely Microsoft perspective. This might sound insulting but I've lost too many friends to the Microsoft brain washing machine. It has taken down some good men.

That said, I am issuing a challenge to Jon:
1. Make a difference at Microsoft. Create a list of ten things that Microsoft has to change and then be ruthless in evangelizing what Microsoft must do to remedy their issues. Keep the list public and monitor the progress.

2. Eat your own dog food. If you are going to evangelize a new Microsoft technology, first show me how Microsoft uses it internally.

3. Be a good citizen. If you introduce a new concept, show me how it 'bridges cultures', as you mention in your podcast. The legacy of 'embrace and extend' will rightfully haunt Microsoft.

Congratulations to Jon for the new position. More important, congratulations to Microsoft for adding a team member that has the ability to actually make a difference.

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