What's with Steve Gillmor?

September 11, 2005

In going through my feeds, I’ve been linked to two of Steve’s recent articles: Beep beep and Size still matters.

Before I started reading the first article, I was thinking: I’m about to read a well-reasoned essay that’s logically put together. Halfway through, I started thinking: What is this guy trying to say? When I finished, I was thinking: How is this guy a professional writer?!?!

First of all, as far as I know, “Marc” Lucovsky’s first name is Mark. But that’s relatively trivial.

Read this paragraph and tell me if it isn’t just rambling for the sake of dropping hot names in tech:

What Google had to offer was Gmail, a huge server farm, and a burgeoning software-as-a-service architecture in waiting. Gmail neatly sidestepped the Passport rathole that pulled Hailstorm under, and Skype reassured some of us that we weren’t trading one monoculture for another. And in a few hours Steve Jobs will cut to the chase with an iPod phone that will trigger the last push (with or without the carriers) to a muni WiFi/EV-DO mesh network.

Passport rathole? What do you call Google Accounts? How does Skype have anything to do with Microsoft, WinFX and hailStorm? Steve Jobs, iPod phone, and muni WiFi/EV-DO mesh network?!?!

Then his conclusion that Office’s days are over, even in the enterprise. Umm… what planet are you living on? Besides Google, what IT department is going to hack on a calendar, wireless reminders, and use RSS and WebClips for document review?

Oh and the case study about her daughter? Yes, GMail is an effective replacement for a desktop e-mail client. Too bad it doesn’t have any calendaring. And your daughter doesn’t need a word processor? Really? Next time she has to write up a report for school, are you really going to have her print out a GMail draft or a blog entry and turn it in?

At this point, I had to conclude that Mr. Gillmor has no clue what the heck he’s talking about.

Then I get linked to the second article by Dave Winer. I saw the name Steve Gillmor and thought: hmmm, maybe I’ll give this guy another chance… oops!

You didn’t go to PDC this year, so what? Hundreds of thousands of developers around the world didn’t go to PDC but they’ll still be using the technologies they discussed there this year. Who’s out of the loop Steve?

And yes, Steve Jobs is a better showman and marketer than Steve Ballmer/Bill Gates. Is that news?

And lastly, if you want to talk about discussions you had with Scoble and Dave Winer or regurgitate ideas from Om and Russ Beattie, at least link to them. How is it that you have an article with no new ideas and not a single link?

In a conversation I had with Terry about bad tech writers nowadays, he pointed out a very important observation: to succeed in media today, you just need eyeballs. It doesn’t matter if you’re stupid and wrong, all you have to do is stir up the pot every once in a while and people will read it.

Ah, so unfortunately true.

P.S. Hey ZD Net, you want to get some good eyeballs on your site? How about becoming a tech-centric blog aggregator or republishing good articles written on the blogosphere? You could probably pay these bloggers less than you’re paying your staff and they’d almost certainly put out better and more relevant content.


10 Responses to “What's with Steve Gillmor?”

  1. Chooky Says:

    You have to understand how these guys think. They don’t want to be left out of predicting the next big technology transition. Web 2.0 is the new prediction du jour. Everyone is writing an article on it so they can point back in 5 years and say, “see I told you so”. Unfortunately all these so called ‘big picture’ guys inevitably get it wrong. And this one they will get wrong. I’ve been hearing this web 2.0 crap for 15 years now. So what they do is write anything and everything whether it makes sense or not and inevitably get 1 or 2 article correct and then speak endlessly about those great predicitons. I mean take a look at Cringely. I’ve been saying “what’s with Cringely?” since the 80s

  2. markjen Says:

    Hi Chooky, ah that might be true, but it just makes the situation even sadder. I can’t believe that tech writing is devolved to a state like this… who are these guys’ bosses anyways?

    From an integrity standpoint, if I read stuff like this, I’d get out the pink slips…

  3. Adam Says:


    Not to say that you aren’t a bit unduly harsh sometimes (okay, much of the time :D), but in this particular case… after reading both of the referenced Gillmore articles, all I could say was “HUH!?!”

    You’re right. Others could / can do much better. At least they’d write articles with a (discernible) point. Even if they had to use Gmail as their word processor 😀

  4. Jason Says:

    Twernt has been writing Steve Gillmor translations recently


  5. I agree that Gilmor’s writing is vapid and full of fluffy prognostications. When Scoble addresses the supposed “dying” client software business like Office and Microsoft web 2.0 type iniatives the MSFT bashers like Gilmor never seem to address the specifics. Then you throw in Ebay/PayPal/ Skype and Google’s expaning empire and Yahho and MSN and who really is the ” evil empire” is not so clear. Perhaps the issue of evil empire or who will be eclipsed by the next big thing is not so important as specific information as to who is bringing out applications and services that “thrill ” users like the ability of hurricane victims to zoom in on their houses in Google’s Keyhole satellite view or MSN’s Earth. How about some real world details to back up your big picture hallucinations ?

  6. Mark,

    So you don’t like Steve Gillmor’s stuff? Lucky for you that ZDNet is now publishing the work of 20 tech-centric bloggers — and only three are staff writers.

    We realized a year ago that ZDNet should bring together the best, indepdent and passionate voices about technology and its impact on business. That’s what we’re doing with our blogs.

    Gillmor is one of those voices. We also have Berlind, Blankenhorn, Carroll, Farber, Gardner, Gottsman, Jablonski, Koman, MacManus, Manasco, McKendrick, Moskalyuk, Murphy, Ou, Padilla, Piquepaille, Shaw, Turner, Wainewright and Windley.

    Set up and RSS feed and enjoy!

  7. Dave Says:

    Re: Google accounts vs. MSN Passport

    Google accounts are very different from MSN Passport: Passport is used to log into sites from many different providers, like eBay. AFAIK, Google accounts only get you into the services they offer, and even then, not all of them: Orkut and Blogger are not automatically included when you get a GMail (or Google groups etc) account.

  8. markjen Says:

    Hi Stephen, thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check out the other voices ZD Net is hosting.

    Hi Dave, true, Google Accounts currently only logs you into Google services (I suppose I could argue that Passport only logged you into Microsoft services with the exception of ebay 😉 ). I’m not going to speculate on the future of Google Accounts, but I think it’s an extremely interesting offering to watch…

  9. kenny Says:

    Even eBay dropped Passport after awhile…

  10. Ray Says:

    Always good quality info from this site!

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