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November 12, 2006

Reflections on blogging, bullying and bullcrap

I did not respond immediately on my blog regarding the fur flying around this week about if I used my blog to bully competitors, whether I would say the same thing to their face and is this a good use of this forum.  I did post some comments on blogs by people who blogged about it and I thank people like Thomas from Matasano and Mike Rothman for capturing many of the feelings I was feeling around this topic.  However, with an email received this week and time to reflect, I wanted to set the record straight definitively.

First of all, as to those whose comments were along the lines of someone of my stature writing as such on my blog, let me say I am flattered.  I evidently don't think as much of my stature as others do.  I am just one person, who busts his butt everyday working to build the company I helped found into the best it can be. I honestly think the best way I can do that is by making sure we deliver the best products possible to the market and making sure that the market (customers, press, analysts, etc.) is educated and not fooled by the usual slick spinmiesters.  Secondly, I think you have to understand a  little bit about the enigma wrapped in a riddle (I know that is a corny cliche, but I could not resist.  Where is it from anyway?) that is Alan Shimel.  Folks from my background as Rothman said, tend to be bombastic, combative on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.  However, we say what we mean and mean what we say.  Whether I write it here on my blog, say it to your face or up in front of a crowd of people, what I say is going to be pretty consistent.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve and am a straight shooter.  Some people are turned off by the gruff demeanor, some people get past it and have a friend for life.  I could point you to lots of people on both sides of that one.

Why do I blog?  Well it is not to defend truth, justice and the American way, but that is close.  I view my blog as a bully pulpit to express my views and as my outlet and vehicle to offset what I see as some misconceptions and downright BS that is put out in the market. I also try to educate as best I can and give people a little flavor about what I am about. Before I started blogging, I read blogs for some time.  I realized that this new medium was not evolutionary, but revolutionary.  Prior to blogging in order to get your message out you had to pay for it.  Those who could afford to hire the best PR agencies, take out the most advertising, wine and dine the most, would get their word out.  Prior to blogging would you be reading my opinions on NAC versus a Richard Stiennons or Mike Rothmans?  No way!  Blogging is a great equalizer in this regard.  It also affords me the opportunity to at some level at least, be a journalist as well.  Yes as Rothman points out, I am a vendor (or work for a vendor) so every thing I write about a competitor has to be taken with a grain of salt.  If you don't think I am calling them as I see them and am full of beans, no one is forcing you to read this.  However, I know that people are reading what I write because they see some truth in there.  Yes, provocative posts sell.  People like to see disagreements between Rothman and I, or with Ross or Greg Toto or whomever.  However, understand that I at least do not actually take any of it personally or mean any of it personally.  I can argue a point and still go out for beers afterwards.  People who don't realize this are missing a vital aspect of my posts. 

In the year plus I am blogging, I have seen first hand the influence it can have with not only customers and potential customers, but with the security community.  I have made many friends and learned an awful lot from blogging.  I have also realized the ability it affords me to stop the spin, stop the hype and put my own view on much of the BS that floats around as fact in this industry.  So when I see a press release that is frankly full of fluff and does nothing more than seek to portray a company as a leader in a given market with what I think are misleading facts, I see nothing wrong with using this forum to call them on it.  You know what, if StillSecure is guilty of that, I fully expect people to call us on it as well.  Being an "insider" on this, I am in a unique position to give my honest opinion on what I am seeing.  Whether it be about an 800 pound gorilla like Cisco or the smallest start up, I call them as I see them.  You think I am wrong, tell me so, write about it, don't read what I write or whatever.  But that is not going to stop me.  If a company wants to spend thousands of dollars to a PR agency to spew bullcrap, so that journalists, analysts and end users who are not as up on the facts will suck it up, I can use my blog to bring some truth to the matter.  If my style in doing so offends you, I am sorry, but that is my style.

I actually do love blogging and expressing my opinion on these topics.  In many ways I was born to blog, I guess.  I have always been opinionated and eager to express my views.  Blogging is the perfect outlet.  To those of you who read my blog regularly, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  To those of you I might offend, my sincerest apologies, but I will not change what I write.  To those of you who think you are going to spin a story and believe by shouting it loud enough or saying it enough times, people will believe it, know that I am going to continue calling BS on it on here- for whatever it is worth.

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