INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Catching Up

Once again, I’ve fallen hopelessly behind on my blog surfing. There’s been some good stuff on the community of blogging, especially from Elaine and Frank Paynter. They, and other esteemed bloggers, are reminding me that every time I exile myself from the blogosphere, I’m depriving myself of community experience, not a wise move.

As Elaine points out: “We need lots of different kinds of communities in our lives. Blogging surely fills some of those needs.”

Helping to massage this need is Jeneane’s declaration of “National Blogging History Month,” and her dredging up of a number of first posts.

And I want to acknowledge Frank for sharing his BloggerCon pix and for pointing me to Griff Wigley and the outstanding work Griff is doing with business blogs. I’ve been a skeptic on business blogging, but Griff might cause me to change my tune.

Magical Mischief

Thanks to Elaine for the pointer to Michael Moore’s latest scheme. He’s contributing his tax cut to the defeat of the politicos who gave it to him—i.e., Bush and Republican members of Congress. Catch the details at Mike’s Web site.

Surprise, surprise! There’s other clever stuff there as well—e.g., an entreaty to draft Oprah. The more I think about it, the more I like it. If we’re going to turn to entertainers to run things, why not get the ones with soul and smarts? Oprah, you da’ woman!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Time vs. Reality

Here’s an interesting development—“Take Back Your Time Day”—a nationwide initiative being formed “to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment.”

They’ve already got the governor of Michigan on board. But, then, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is light years ahead of any other State leader in the US. It’s a tragedy that this awesome woman was born in Canada and is thus barred from the Presidency. She could wipe the mat with George W.

But I digress. This movement is a splendid idea but I wonder how far it will travel beyond some nice rhetoric and unassailable logic. They like to point to Europe as an example to be emulated. Well, hell yes, it would be fantastic to have the 35-hour work weeks, the five-week vacations, and the health care.

But there’s a little hitch that they don’t seem to want to talk about. Europeans pay far higher taxes than any politician in this society would ever dare propose.

The voters of this land have shown time and time again—especially in this era of a GOP Congress—that they are willing to accept the trade-off of low taxes in exchange for overwork, shitty health care, declining education, higher college tuitions, and an overall, absolute minimum of government services.

In other words, the Texas model, cheerfully brought to you by Bush, DeLay, and Gang.

Here’s wishing the best of luck to the Take Back Your Time people. They’ll need a hell of a lot of it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Practice What You Preach

Steve MacLaughlin touts a new book by Tom Peters, Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, and deems it an omen that business is on the rebound.

Steve also asserts—quite correctly—that Peters needs a weblog. I’ll say! Isn’t it a bit ironic for an oracle of business trends to not be embracing one of the more important ones?

Peters likes to talk about how difficult it is for organizations to change, despite their urgent need to do so. He points out that “the need to embrace ‘change’(in fact, to go beyond ‘change’ ... way beyond change) is imperative."

Peters failure to incorporate blogging into his overall mix is a vivid example of how change is just as challenging at the personal level as it is organizationally.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The Ties That Bind

Red Herring has re-emerged from the ashes—this time as an online publication. The latest effort is being directed by new owner, the French Silicon Valley player, Alex Vieux.

To me the real story in this affair is not the re-emergence but Vieux’s directive that the male employees must wear ties. This is a dagger in the heart of the Valley’s vaunted culture. Unhappily, things are so desperate there these days that guys would wear horse collars if it meant having a job.

Somewhere, Steve MacLaughlin must be smiling. I recall a recent blog post of his expressing his distaste for the un-knotted casualness of today’s business attire. By the way, I just realized that I never acknowledged Steve for his excellent new blog, Strathlachlan—nor did I add it to my roll. Apologies, Steve, and corrections made.

My concern is that, if the new Red Herring does well, some entrepreneurs will conclude that the tie-wearing created a disciplined atmosphere that contributed to the turnaround, and they’ll be tempted to convert to Vieux’s old-fashioned approach. As long as jobs remain scarce, this looms as a threat.

Why you would have guys wear ties when they work in cubicles and don’t interface with the public is beyond me, even though I’m old enough to have lived through the days when everyone wore ties, not only to work, but to parties, for god’s sake. “Casual” meant wearing a sport coat instead of a suit.

I never cease to be amazed by an old photograph, taken when I was in my twenties. My roommates and I, plus a few other guys, invited our dates over to the apartment for cocktails and dancing to some of our favorite LP’s (remember them?). In the photo, all the guys were clad in ties! It’s just inconceivable, but there’s the evidence, staring me in the face.

So, do I wish Red Herring ill? No, I’m happy for these guys who now have a paycheck. If ties, god forbid, do make a comeback, I’ll be too old for it to make any difference anyway.


A hearty welcome to my latest additions to the roll: Goldblogger, a marketing blog by Jason Cain--offering an unconventional and somewhat Rageboy-esque tone for unconventional marketing types like myself; and Stuart Bridgett, a young blogger from the UK. Stuart joins Syaffolee in the under-25 contingent of my blogroll. (Lindsay Vaughan was another one, but she’s taken down her blog, strangely, almost immediately after proclaiming, in her words, “Fuck it. I’m back.”)

I’m always impressed when young people like Syaffolee and Stuart can write with the kind of insight and perspective that belies their lack of years. It’s not a matter of writing talent, but of voice. I know middle-school kids who have writing talent to burn, but being able to project a unique voice before the age of 25 or so is a rare talent indeed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

A Chance?

Well, let’s see if I can get back into some semblance of blogging action again. I’m not promising anything except to make the attempt. Some years, when we cross the equinox, and the nights become longer than the days, I find myself sinking into an unnamable sea of despond without knowing how I got there or what pushed me in. This, for whatever reason, has been one of those years.

Sometimes it takes me until Thanksgiving to extricate myself. I’ve decided not to wait that long this time, if I can possibly help it. I’ll see if a return to blogging will help, even though, as is so frequently the case these days, I have no bloody idea what to write about.

I’m not even going to dignify the farce of the California election with a comment—except to express my hope that the political analysts are correct who opine that the voter anger directed toward the political insiders--manifested so clearly here—signals a broader trend that is showing up in the success of outsider campaigns like Howard Dean’s.

If this trend can continue through November 04 maybe we can actually throw the Texas Terrorist out. It will never happen, though, with the Washington insiders like Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, et al. It’s got to be Dean or Clark.

More and more people are getting pissed. Maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel, after all. I just wish we had a snarly Ross Perot-type this time around to stir things up. Without that, and with Bush’s obscene cash pile of over 200 million to create a media flurry the likes of which will be unprecedented, it’s going to be very uphill, indeed. But for the first time, I’m feeling like maybe there’s a chance.