Ran into Sun's most authoratative blogger at OSBC this morning: Jim Grisanzio. Although some would point at Tim Bray (too partisan around Atom to sustain deserved linkcred from pre-Sun days) or Simon Phipps (fragmented his Webmink brand into multiple feeds) Jim's combination of OpenSolaris mission and personal naiviete about his cluefullness and the respect it attracts has kept him closer to the sweet spot of disruptive feed generation. I advised Jim to back off a bit from the All OpenSolaris All the Time, but even so his link posts are worth the price of admission.
Photo: Dan Farber
In introducing Nick Carr at OSBC, program chair Matt Asay called Nick's and Jonathan Schwartz' blogs the two best in the 'sphere. Certainly, after a slow start throwing "Doesn't Matters" at blogging, podcasting, and other A list sacred cows, Nick has grown appreciably into an authorative analyst of the enterprise space at a remarkably deep level for such a generalist. By contrast, Jonathan has devolved from a disruptive force of nature into a constrained pitchman for his Web 2.0 tactics and leading edge business strategies.
To be fair (a little) Jonathan's success at changing the conversation about open source to one of volume wins has done much to buy him and Sun the time they desperately need to let their superlative hardware seed itself in the marketplace. But the damage to his fundamental platform has been substantial, aided in no small part by the bifurcation of Sun's messaging into two pieces: McNealy's Oracle bearhug and Schwartz' open source mantra.
Thus we see Scott proudly attribute Oracle's database bundling deal to Sun's open source database cozying. And Nick Carr's search for a modern day Samuel Insull to carry IT from cost center to grid dipper just as Insull commoditized electric power in the early 1900's finds a potential Pied Piper in Schwartz. Surely there's a story line here that Jonathan could mine to resuscitate his blog or jumpstart the moribund Sun podcasting effort. What's the problem?
Perhaps Jonathan should examine Nick's transformation. Just because Carr's grenade-baiting style works doesn't mean it's a perpetual golden goose. Nick was openly dismissive of both the inventment in and authority of blogging, but his continued presence set up an odd dynamic that he eventually confronted--namely, if it sucks so bad, what are you doing here? So his posts became more detailed, nuanced, and broader in their enterprise physiology, to the point where his work set a higher bar for the discussion, above most of the media and with parity to the analyst community. That dovetailed nicely with Redmonk's and Michael Gartenberg's move into the trade space for all intents and purposes.
Where then in the world is Jonathan Schwartz? Just because he is president of a large and challenged company is no reason why he can't move laterally to make his voice work as successfully today as it did when he first appeared. Success is no excuse. Transparency is everything, and Sun's lack of response to the changing mashup of communications except as a potential source of volume is not a compelling strategy for retaining or growing authority. Jonathan already has the cred of the pioneer, and the respect of the survivor, but he needs to learn the lesson of the Beatles, which is to always change so that the thrill of cracking open the shrink wrap remains.