in like a lion, out like a lamb

March 27th, 2001

when Microsoft announced their HailStorm initiative last week, it didn’t quite sit right with me. of course, you will know how it irked me from the world domination perspective. you will know how it enlightened me from a Bill/Borg perspective. but there’s been some other intangible just exceeding my grasp…

it came to me as i read Kara Swisher’s article from the Wall Street Journal. it’s this name, HailStorm. Kara says:

The first question that arises about Microsoft ‘s newest Web initiative is this: What’s with the malevolent code name HailStorm? It conjures images of concussions from baseball-size hailstones. After years of trying to prove it isn’t a bully, couldn’t the company have chosen something a bit gentler, like SoftSpringRain?

exactly. Microsoft is one of the slickest marketing machines on the planet. what would possess them to present such a harsh face?
sure, use HailStorm as an internal rallying cry while in development, but for goodness sake rename the thing to something more palatable for release. it doesn’t make sense. these guys don’t make public relations moves without putting a whole lotta thought into it. oddly though, somehow this seems familiar…

well, i’ll tellya what it is. it reminds me of a government who has a hold of a huge majority. the voting public has saddled themselves with them for the foreseeable future. now is the time to make big waves. announce loudly that there will be a new sweeping program introduced next year. toll roads, hospital user fees, fingerprint identification for social programs, or some other such entirely unpalatable dross.

then they sit back and wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth. the opposition is outraged, the pundits pontificate, the spin-doctors spin. committees are convened, polls taken. the policies are adjusted by the exact amount necessary to assuage the naysayers, no more, no less.

a year later, the policy is implemented, much prettier than its original incarnation. the opposition and the press have saved us from the bullies. the govt gets to boast about its collaboration, openness, yadda yadda. most of us know that what they got is likely exactly what they planned all along, but they get to pull their image out of the dumpster just in time for the next election campaign to start.

same thing happens with management and labour unions. both sides start off with ridiculously polarized demands, never expecting to get a settlement on their original terms. finally they meet in the middle, on terms not far from their real original plans.

mind you, if one side started off on a ridiculously advantageous position and there were no voices to counter it and play the game, the other side would get stuck with the short straw, big-time.

so i guess i’m saying someone’s gotta keep ’em guessing. sure, it’s all a poker game, but we don’t have a chance to redistribute the chips without engaging in the game, calling their bluffs, making some of our own.

i think the blogging community, with its ability to cast multiple radial threads of relevant commentary and rational discussion while also providing coherence by making reticular links to keep the multiplicity of threads unified, can help to provide the critical mass of organized (or at least catalogued) public opinion necessary to get a seat at this game.

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