For some, Robert Scoble represents all that's wrong or risible about the blogosphere. He's a brash insta-pundit with a shameless, all-American will to broadcast himself to as many people as possible. His sheer loudness and loquaciousness isn't suited to all tastes (and I must confess here that I've not always been his biggest advocate -- see here) but there's no denying that he was one of the biggest proponents and shapers of the new, new media. He helped break the old equation of PR + Journalists = Consensus Of Wisdom and that, in the final analysis, has probably been a good thing.
'The Scobleizer', recently employed by datacentre hosting firm Rackspace to build a web community "for people fanatical about the Net" called Building 43, is on a visit to London and yesterday I caught up with him by phone to get his latest views.
Most interesting to me was that despite his outspoken criticism of Microsoft towards the end of his tenure as a paid blogger for the company, the software giant had tried to get him back after his departure.
"They tried to keep me and they tried to hire me back," he said. "They know the value of that kind of relationship with customers. If you're honest with customers they remember that and come back to you."
Scoble says he "never wants to say never" on the prospect of an eventual return to Redmond but says he is having fun in his new job, meeting the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Craig Newmark of Craigslist, and even going to White House. He says he is at "a company that understands the Net". Microsoft "is doing pretty well but they're not doing the bleeding-edge work. Bing is pretty cool but it's taken them how long?"
On hot startups. "Spotify is my favourite company right now. I love it."
On the notion of Twitter superceding blogs. "I see it more as complementary. It's certainly changed blogging. If you look at my blogs of 2004 they were more like Twitter with just a short post and a link, but if you want to write about Google's new OS, if you want to give any detail you have to have a post or video and that takes more than 140 characters."
On the importance of corporate blogging. "I feel stronger about it now than ever. If you look at the Net, many, many companies use blogs. Even Apple Computer has soemthing similar. The best blogging is done when you're under pressure. You win customers over when you have to bite your lip [and admit to failings]. Look at [online footwear seller] Zappos.com. They have 400 employees on Twitter; everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Every employee is a representative of the company. In a 24/7 world you have to react quickly in a crisis or when somebody does something good."
On life at Microsoft. "I don't regret much but I do regret being 'out there' with Vista, ot Longhorn as it was back then. It was like a 100-storey skyscraper that got to 60 storeys and started leaning over. That was difficult because the story kept changing and in the end they went back to Windows Server 2003 and rebuilt it. Now they're not promising too much about anything."
On the next web era. "Web 2.0 is almost eight years ago and the 2010 Web, New Web or Now Web will be about the real-time web."