Lessons in openness from Seattle

Yesterday I heard Jensen Harris from Microsoft talk about the UI for Office 12. It was a great talk, and many great things be said about it. Jensen talked in an open fashion, sharing a lot of the thinking behind the ribbon UI and other innovations in Office 12. In the middle of his talk it struck me how ironic it was that someone from Microsoft was giving us all lessons in openness.

In arranging BayCHI programs, I am used to dealing with speakers from various Bay Area companies, and very often I hear a lot of – “I need to get permission to discuss this”, or “I cannot talk about that”, or “I cannot share my slides”, or “Don’t tape me, or tape only parts of the program”. Dealing with Jensen was a breadth of fresh air – nothing was off limits, he agreed to share slides, he wanted the program to be taped and podcasted. He was willing to frankly and openly talk about every issue related to Office UI. I understand that ultimately he is evangelizing Microsoft, but so is everyone else (evangelizing their own companies, of course). But at least he talks about it an open fashion, rather than the close-lipped attitude (“we will say five words about this at a time and place of our choosing”) of many companies.

Here is a link to his slides, and podcast is upcoming.

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