How to write a non-fiction best seller: chapter 2 review

This is my review of chapter 2. As mentioned in this post, I’ll be reading each chapter beginning-to-end and posting my thoughts over the next weeks.

Chapter 2: Ahhh, one of my favorite subjects, Microsoft.

My main issue with this chapter is that it fails to include any facts. First they assert that Microsoft has been at the top of the list of most despised and mistrusted companies in the world. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that Microsoft annually ranks near the top of Fortune’s most admired companies. Microsoft was #4 in 2005. Forbes makes it difficult to search their archives but I found Microsoft listed as far back as 1998, when the anti-Microsoft fervor seems to be at its height. That 1998 article calls Microsoft a “familiar character” so I’m guessing they had been on it for a long time by then. I also know that Microsoft has been listed as one of the best 100 companies to work for by the Great Places to Work Institute every year as far back as their web site allows me to search.

As much as they assert Microsoft had a bad rep before blogging they assert it has become better since they started blogging. The closest thing to evidence offered are the facts that search strings such as “Microsoft + evil empire” return fewer hits than they did a some time ago. This seem dubious at best. I suspect people tired of referring to Microsoft as “the evil empire.” I know my neighbor did. His opinion of Microsoft, however, didn’t change.

The authors may be right that blogging has changed Microsoft’s image for the best, but this chapter needs some facts.

Other random stuff from this chapter:

  • Mike Torres says says MSN Spaces is used by workgroups of 8-10 people inside Microsoft via passport. I checked with Spaces support because I wanted to do this for our team blog. There is no support for more than one Passport account per space. That means they’re sharing a passport and have to deal with the annoyance of signing out of their primary passport to edit their blog. This is, by the way, one of the main reasons my personal blog on MSN Spaces sucks.
  • When this book is published, if it is in a format other than electronic it will loose a significant portion of its value. The ability to hyperlink to all the blogs referenced and other resources really makes this book come to life in a way paper can’t.
  • Scoble’s readership is 15,000 per day. Does that even match the readership of a low-level newspaper such as the Everett Herald? Is his influence dramatically overblown?