I'm over in the US for Microsoft Search Champs V4. In fact I'm on a United plane from LA to Seattle as I write this, at the tail end of a 24 hour journey. I've traveled all the way from New Zealand to be here, at the invite of Microsoft. And yes they are paying for the trip, as with all Search Champs participants. There are around 30 outside people attending this fourth edition of Search Champs, I think, mostly from the US but there are a few Europeans and a single one from Down Under (that would be me).
The idea of Search Champs is for Microsoft to get feedback on their new products from people in the industry. Bloggers have been part of the invitation list from the beginning, because folks like Dave Winer and Liz Lawley went to the first one. Note that I won't be able to blog details of what is discussed at Search Champs, because we're all under NDA. But I'll try and share my excitement of being a part of Search Champs with you all this week - and my personal observations of what Redmond is like.
Show of hands: who has read Microserfs, the 90's novel by Douglas Coupland? Hmmm, well it was one of my favorite books in the 90's and in many ways defined geek culture pre-Web. OK, I realise a great number of ZDNet readers are more likely to be fans of Linus Torveld's book than a novel about Microsoft culture. But for me anyway, Coupland's Microserfs connected -- and I remember thinking back then about how great it would be if I worked at a big Internet company like Microsoft or Yahoo. That was back in the early-to-mid 90's and nothing has changed - I still want to work on a genuine Internet campus. But I digress...
I'm trying to think of ways to involve my ZDNet readers in my experiences in Seattle this week. I've been under the impression ever since I started blogging here that ZDNet readers are passionate about certain things - but Microsoft isn't one of them. Unless hating Microsoft counts as being passionate about it. I've noticed that George Ou gets a million comments on every post he writes about Linux. I've also noticed that Apple fans get upset if I dare to attempt humor in a post about Apple. So lots of passion there - on both counts. Perhaps I'm biting off more than I can chew, but I'd like to get ZDNet readers thinking as strongly about the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo, memeorandum and Technorati, Feedburner and 37Signals. There are tons of great things happening in the Web world right now.
Anyway, I'm rambling. It's nearing the end of my flight to Seattle. It's been a long day of airplanes and waiting around in airports. I'm looking forward to seeing Seattle and meeting people at tomorrow evening's opening Search Champs dinner. More updates tomorrow, my dear ZDNet readers.