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Former staffer: Apple currently averse to social apps, blogs

post #1 of 104
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A recently departed Apple senior software developer describes a corporate culture that largely overlooks social software and discourages even official blogging.

Best known as the primary architect of Apple's iChat instant messaging software, Jens Alfke explains that he has left the company after 19 years chiefly because it became increasingly difficult to develop social software in the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm's existing climate.

Beyond iChat, the developer notes that he could only persuade the company to implement RSS reading into Safari and the larger frameworks for Atom and RSS feeds in Mac OS X -- achievements which were less likely to repeat themselves after the October release of Mac OS X Leopard.

"There were some very promising prototypes of sexier things [than these], but I really cant talk about those, other than to say that they were canceled," Alfke says. "I looked around after Leopard was finished, and didnt see any place in the company where I could pursue my ideas. It would have meant evangelizing reluctant executives into sharing my vision."

Apple has generally been regarded as late to developing such software as a whole. The company launched its first blogging tool, iWeb, along with iLife 06 and added hooks for YouTube into the iPhone, iPod touch, and its iMovie video editing suite in 2007.

However, a separate issue is also said to be Apple's stance towards its engineers' own social content. Where Apple's initial culture frequently highlighted the talents of individual workers, the environment in recent years has frequently curbed the ability to share experiences -- particularly online.

The Mac maker rarely allows non-executives to present themselves as Apple employees in public and extends that policy to blogging. Even publicly available information is likely to face a challenge from a superior, Alfke says. While many blog anonymously, other firms often allow their employees to mention where they work and to discuss public projects. Some firms also go so far as to maintain official company blogs, such as Microsoft's Gamerscore Blog or smartphone maker Palm's official blog.

By contrast, Apple employees are often reluctant to write even after they leave, the software blogger explains.

"I think Apples policy on blogging is one of the least enlightened of major tech companies; Microsoft in particular is surprisingly open," Alfke writes. "[I'm] ather afraid of pressing the Publish button. I have been long-conditioned to avoid saying anything like the above in public."
post #2 of 104
No surprise here. Sites like this are starting to appear:

http://www.proletar.com/
post #3 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Microsoft in particular is surprisingly open," Alfke writes.

Yeah, thats because they have nothing to loose (in terms of product secrets etc.)
post #4 of 104
That's pathetic and pathological on Apple's part.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
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He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
post #5 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally View Post

Yeah, thats because they have nothing to loose (in terms of product secrets etc.)

true but Apple spends a lot of time hyping up stuff that doesn't always appeal to the masses. Mac users don't want to be cordoned off ..only to talk to other Mac users. Apple's success didn't happen until they began to open up.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
- SolipsismX
Reply
post #6 of 104
99.999999999% of blogging is a waste of time anyway.
Just like writing here is a waste of time MOST of the time...instead of being productive, let's blog about it!

...and for those who will reply with the obvious... here already my counter reply... "exactly".
post #7 of 104
This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.

Apple's success is due in part to their secrecy. When your success is because you have better ideas than everyone else, you have to keep them secret until their release. If you allow your employees to blog all day, secrets are going to get out that are detrimental.

If this guy thought for a second why Apple is able to wow everyone year after year, he wouldn't be complaining. He should go work for an open source company if he wants to divulge everything to the public.
post #8 of 104
I always wondered why Apple didn't do something really surprising on the social part of the internet. Even after leopard i thought Apple was still in the works of something very unique to enter that market. If this guy is right I don't see no future for Apple anymore. If iChat and iWeb are the only things planned for us mac users that is a real shame;

I do understand they don't want their staff blogging away all their secrets but Steve really should understand that he can't lock up users.

I'm gonna put up my Apple sunglasses and start thinking Apple doesn't thrust this person and didn't give him any insight on the future of Apple.
post #9 of 104
Is anybody really at all surprised by this? This has been written about and reported on for years. This is so not newsworthy.
post #10 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

No surprise here. Sites like this are starting to appear:

http://www.proletar.com/

Well, this site (www.proletar.com) sure sounds like a bit of b-s, since they don't seem to know how to do arithmetic (or, are slow to update facts). Click on the seemingly low "2.3" score for Apple, and you see this:

Overall rating\t 3.5
Work Environment\t 3.0
Job Security\t 2.0
Recognition\t 4.0
Work-Life Balance 3.0
Career Development\t 5.0
Salary & Benefits\t4.0

Huh?

I should add that 3.5 is not a bad score compared to what many of the other companies are getting (although, I did not check the details behind the other companies' numbers).

(Apple seems to a good place to work if you want to progress in your career, care about salary & benefits, and want recognition. It sucks if you want work-life balance, job security, or an office with windows and plush carpeting. Big deal, if true).
post #11 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Well, this site (www.proletar.com) sure sounds like a bit of b-s, since they don't seem to know how to do arithmetic (or, are slow to update facts). Click on the seemingly low "2.3" score for Apple, and you see this:

Overall rating\t 3.5
Work Environment\t 3.0
Job Security\t 2.0
Recognition\t 4.0
Work-Life Balance 3.0
Career Development\t 5.0
Salary & Benefits\t4.0

Huh?

I should add that 3.5 is not a bad score compared to what many of the other companies are getting (although, I did not check the details behind the other companies' numbers).

(Apple seems to a good place to work if you want to progress in your career, care about salary & benefits, and want recognition. It sucks if you want work-life balance, job security, or an office with windows and plush carpeting. Big deal, if true).

I didn't say it was accurate, I only stated that sites like these are starting to showup. Also, when I mentioned this link Apple was not listed; it is now, and it looks like there is one response. I do know one of the companies listed exceedingly well as I used to work for it. I will not mention the company, but the employee reviews are spot on. Also, I believe, that the rating is influenced by people voting whether they agree or disagreed with an employee's post.
post #12 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.

Apple's success is due in part to their secrecy. When your success is because you have better ideas than everyone else, you have to keep them secret until their release. If you allow your employees to blog all day, secrets are going to get out that are detrimental.

If this guy thought for a second why Apple is able to wow everyone year after year, he wouldn't be complaining. He should go work for an open source company if he wants to divulge everything to the public.

I'm sure he'll be much happier at Microsoft.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #13 of 104
No need to lambast Jens Alfke as his nineteen years at Apple taught him something. Besides, this is critical information if you are a stock trader as this is what you need and should know. There are people behind product lines that makes the products. I have a feeling that Mr. Alfke shall do quite well in his life after Apple.
post #14 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

I didn't say it was accurate, I only stated that sites like these are starting to showup.

Meaning...... what?
post #15 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.

And you're bitter that schmuck got a job at Apple and you didn't.
post #16 of 104
Just because Microsoft and Palm blog is not a good reason to blog - both companies are hardly that good at what they do. Maybe if they spent their time on making products rather than blogging then their stuff wouldn't be so shit.

Apple's ban on blogging is in tune with the rest of the company ethos and prevents a member of staff putting their foot in it.
post #17 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Meaning...... what?

Are you an Apple employee or what? Read the post...it means what I stated: Sites like these are starting to appear. Employees are starting to state their views on their company, outside of the company. Don't you get it? Didn't you see the site? No, I am not affiliated with the site in any manner.
post #18 of 104
MS has an "enlightened" blogging policy because they literally have nothing to lose at this point. No secrets, no ideas...so hey, why not blog. Maybe a commenter will give them their next big idea.
post #19 of 104
I remember when Tog used to "blog" about interface design. Of course back then it was a newletter column printed on paper rather than bits.

You know, as much as I like Apple products, I'd much rather have a job at MS Research. Or Almaden Research (IBM). Or maybe Google but I'm plain too old.

It was a shame that Jobs disbanded the HIG. Every tech company needs an internal Xerox Parc like place and to fund the handful of researchers there was really just chump change for a company the size of Apple.
post #20 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Are you an Apple employee or what? Read the post...it means what I stated: Sites like these are starting to appear. Employees are starting to state their views on their company, outside of the company. Don't you get it? Didn't you see the site? No, I am not affiliated with the site in any manner.

The site does not appear to do any effort to make sure that a person that posts an opinion actually worked there. I think that discredits the entire idea.
post #21 of 104
Even greater restrictions are imposed on Federal workers. It makes sense to me. Why complain when you're part of the system and benefit from it?
post #22 of 104
Both left on their own for entirely different reasons. Both liked Apple and miss it in many ways. And both remarked several times just how incredibly, ridiculously secretive it is, even to the point where you literally don't know what the guy the next cube over is doing.

And neither would go into details. Whatever the culture is in there, it seems to stick for quite a while.

Even though I'm not bothered by Apple being secretive to outsiders, I don't find a work environment so compartmentalized to be appealing. I'm sure it also results in missed opportunities when it comes to product development.

But this is how Steve Jobs is. We can't line-item veto his style to suit our taste.

And, for whatever it's worth, I don't care for social networking myself. I have no MySpace or Facebook account and I don't share personal information or photos on-line. If I want somebody to see a picture, I send them an e-mail. I couldn't care less that Apple is not pursuing this; I'd rather they didn't, in fact.
post #23 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

The site does not appear to do any effort to make sure that a person that posts an opinion actually worked there. I think that discredits the entire idea.

The site does not profess to do so. For that matter Apple (Apple is no the only one) has sold the general public blue sky too, so what's your angle?
post #24 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

The site does not profess to do so.

Then that makes the site completely irrelevant if anyone can claim they were an employee. All the haters can flood the site and make it worse than it really is, all the lovers can flood the site to rate it better than it is.

Quote:
For that matter Apple (Apple is no the only one) has sold the general public blue sky too, so what's your angle?

I don't even understand what you're trying to say here.
post #25 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"There were some very promising prototypes of sexier things [than these], but I really cant talk about those, other than to say that they were canceled," Alfke says. "I looked around after Leopard was finished, and didnt see any place in the company where I could pursue my ideas. It would have meant evangelizing reluctant executives into sharing my vision."

Are there companies where people DON'T have to pitch their ideas to executives?
Is he claiming that Apple is reluctant, in general, to take chances or do anything
different(ly)? If his ideas were that great and he believed in them that strongly,
he should have welcomed the opportunity to "evangelize". I hope he finds a
company who will fund his ideas sight-unseen so they will be produced into
something we can all evaluate for "sexiness".
post #26 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't even understand what you're trying to say here.

You have absolutely no comprehension of what it entails, so it is useless to try to explain it to you. Say what you want, it makes no difference. Another Apple fanboy who can't see the forest for the trees, oh well. You remind me a great deal of a real estate agent.
post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

You have absolutely no comprehension of what it entails, so it is useless to try to explain it to you. Say what you want, it makes no difference. Another Apple fanboy who can't see the forest for the trees, oh well. You remind me a great deal of a real estate agent.

You were talking in cryptic riddles and metaphors which could mean a lot of different things.

And you throw labels and accusations onto the people that dares to ask you questions. How insolent of us! Exactly what is your problem?

You're giving up on explaining it to me because of your prejudices. If you knew anything about my posting history, you'd know that I'm not a blind fanboy. I'm beginning to see why anant doesn't like that word. But you're not even giving me the benefit of the doubt, and running off in a huff because we don't understand you.

But if that's your odd way of saying that it's hard to verify someone actually worked somewhere, that's true. I don't think any internet employer survey can possibly be trusted, there's no point to those sites at all.
post #28 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Are you an Apple employee or what? Read the post...it means what I stated: Sites like these are starting to appear. Employees are starting to state their views on their company, outside of the company. Don't you get it? Didn't you see the site? No, I am not affiliated with the site in any manner.

No. I am not an Apple employee. And, given my preferences (e.g., I care a lot about work-life balance), I would have little interest in working in a company like that.

But that's beside the point.

I am just sick and tired of proforma posts - i.e., posts that say 'something' because, in a stream-of-consciousness way, it seems cool to say 'something.' This kind of meaningless crap permeates our discourse, whether in forums like these, or more importantly, in areas such as politics.

I am still trying to understand what exactly you were trying to get at. If the answer is "nothing, really," then I'll repeat my question: Why bother?
post #29 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonso Perez View Post

Both left on their own for entirely different reasons. Both liked Apple and miss it in many ways. And both remarked several times just how incredibly, ridiculously secretive it is, even to the point where you literally don't know what the guy the next cube over is doing.

And neither would go into details. Whatever the culture is in there, it seems to stick for quite a while.

Even though I'm not bothered by Apple being secretive to outsiders, I don't find a work environment so compartmentalized to be appealing. I'm sure it also results in missed opportunities when it comes to product development.

But this is how Steve Jobs is. We can't line-item veto his style to suit our taste.

And, for whatever it's worth, I don't care for social networking myself. I have no MySpace or Facebook account and I don't share personal information or photos on-line. If I want somebody to see a picture, I send them an e-mail. I couldn't care less that Apple is not pursuing this; I'd rather they didn't, in fact.

Brilliant post. Restores my faith. Thanks.
post #30 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Huh?

I should add that 3.5 is not a bad score compared to what many of the other companies are getting (although, I did not check the details behind the other companies' numbers).

Well, I did. According to their scoreboard, Apple is only a marginally better place to work when compared to Wal-Mart .

Where is the world coming to!

post #31 of 104
Typical Apple with it's ultra tight control. Almost reminds me of a socialist regime at times. I remember a while back when many people were having trouble with their Seagate HD. When I went to purchase my MacBook in November of last year, I mentioned this to 2 Apple employees and that I read this at Apple Insider, CNET, MacNN, etc and they were completely clueless and told me they weren't allowed to visit "rumor" sites.

I love Apple but boy are they control freaks.
Switching From Windows on Nov. 30th 2007
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post #32 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post

Typical Apple with it's ultra tight control. Almost reminds me of a socialist regime at times. I remember a while back when many people were having trouble with their Seagate HD. When I went to purchase my MacBook in November of last year, I mentioned this to 2 Apple employees and that I read this at Apple Insider, CNET, MacNN, etc and they were completely clueless and told me they weren't allowed to visit "rumor" sites.

I love Apple but boy are they control freaks.

As the rumor sites are perhaps almost always wrong, it makes sense that employees would be "prohibited" from visiting those sites, since it is human nature to confuse fiction with fact and propagate it. I doubt 100% of employees adhere to this supposed policy 100% of the time, but they all certainly understand that they'll be held 100% responsible for their actions if something goes awry.
post #33 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post

Typical Apple with it's ultra tight control. Almost reminds me of a socialist regime at times.

Corporations are not democracies. Get used to it, if you plan to work for one.
post #34 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

It makes sense that employees would be "prohibited" from visiting those sites, since it is human nature to confuse fiction with fact and propagate it. I doubt 100% of employees adhere to this supposed policy 100% of the time, but they all certainly understand that they'll be held 100% responsible for their actions if something goes awry.

Couldn't agree more. Wouldn't expect anything else from a highly innovative company like Apple. IMO secretive is the only way, especially when patents, litigitations and millions of dollars are at stake.

With regards to the departed employee, I am sure he must be bitter. But good news for the rest of us...there is currently an opening in Cupertino .
post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonso Perez View Post

And, for whatever it's worth, I don't care for social networking myself. I have no MySpace or Facebook account and I don't share personal information or photos on-line. If I want somebody to see a picture, I send them an e-mail. I couldn't care less that Apple is not pursuing this; I'd rather they didn't, in fact.

Yup, I'm in the same boat. Been using computers for over 25 years now and I have no interest in putting my life on display for the world. Not to mention that I just don't have time to maintain a virtual persona on a half dozen or so social networking sites. I spend my entire day working on computers, so when I want to socialize with others, I get off the computer, give them a call, and go meet for drinks. I find it a lot more gratifying.

I think there is a market for software for journalists, and other creative professionals, but for social networking, it's always going to be a swiss army knife of web apps and app plug-ins to fit the "site du jour". Tie your software to any particular website's interface and it's destined to be outdated in a couple of years. I've already lived through about 2 or 3 rounds of social networking software/sites in the past 8 years (remember Friendster or ICQ anyone)?

So yes, I'm also glad Apple is staying focused on software for professional users and steering clear of the fickle world of social networking.
 
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post #36 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Corporations are not democracies. Get used to it, if you plan to work for one.

Hmmm...Is there a reason for the sarcastic and rude reply? As far as corporations go, "Been there, done that." and now I work for myself. Sorry it just wasn't my taste.
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post #37 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Corporations are not democracies. Get used to it, if you plan to work for one.

They're basically feudal societies.
post #38 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Yup, I'm in the same boat. Been using computers for over 25 years now and I have no interest in putting my life on display for the world. Not to mention that I just don't have time to maintain a virtual persona on a half dozen or so social networking sites. I spend my entire day working on computers, so when I want to socialize with others, I get off the computer, give them a call, and go meet for drinks. I find it a lot more gratifying.

You seem strangely unaware that you are, in fact, socializing on One of Those Sites, right now.
post #39 of 104
As much as I sympathise with people who do not enjoy their company policies, I personally don't mind seeing anywhere I work/worked banning all "social network", online chat, and blogging during work time. Because I personally hate those things.

Yes, this attitude will bite me in the ass somewhere down the line, but I'm just being honest.
post #40 of 104
Apple's been like this since long before Steve Jobs came back. Why didn't Apple absorb AOL when it was still essentially "AppleLink Personal Edition"? Why did Apple take so long to embrace TCP/IP and the web when they were so far ahead of Windows at the time? Why was Quicktime Videoconferencing left to languish until others ruled the domain? Why does .Mac suck so much? Why do they sue Apple fan sites? Apple just doesn't get online interaction and never has. If it's not email or direct person-to-person IM (and iChat took forever to get right-- it finally seems usable in Leopard) Apple's an also-ran.
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