When the blogs catch fire, there’s really no stopping, even when it’s burning the wrong house. I’ve made several mistakes in the past so this is not a cheap shot at other bloggers, but something like this clearly demonstrates how susceptible blogs can become to misinformation spreading like wild fire and how that problem can be compounded by the Chinese-whispers effect.
In this case, a video-on-demand software made by British developer, Skinkers, can be mislabeled as “Microsoft’s Joost-killer” when it’s not made by Microsoft at all. To be honest I was about to make the same mistake when Josh Phillips first introduced me to LiveStation, but it really doesn’t take much to investigate and find out in fact it’s made by the “Skinkers” company.
Understandably one might be easily misled by the “Live” branding, affiliation with Microsoft Research as a technology partner and the interview with Microsoft UK’s Steve Clayton as possible indication this was a Microsoft project.
The real surprise came when the streams of A-listers jumped on the story without really investigating the real story. May I be so bold as to suggest some of these bloggers fought so hard to get the story out sooner than doing any real facts-checking? I’m no blogosphere-expert but it’s not the first time this has happened. Mashable claims LiveStation is “a product from Microsoft Research”. Ars Technica states “Microsoft announces Joost killer”. HipMojo added a new product to Microsoft’s Live offering. The Indie Tribune declares war against Joost on behalf of Microsoft. Among a handful of others and it’s still spreading.
On the bright side, there’s not much harm done here. Just a whole lot of positive press on a hopeful piece of software which shows off Silverlight in a very useful manner and the capabilities of P2P networks. However, the Microsoft labeling may have signaled the ever-so-attentive Microsoft-basher to induce even more confusion. Nevertheless, the LiveStations team is doing a good job of corrections by promptly commenting on each of the top stories – a communications strategy the former Windows Ultimate team should consider.
Perhaps this should serve as a warning sign to any company who’s thinking about naming their applications with anything “Live”. Unless you’re Microsoft, in which case you should probably avoid that even more so.