Me: Blackboard has an imaginary spinmeister! Oh NO!
Spinmeister: Oh, that guy. I wouldn’t worry too much about him. He was Joe Lieberman’s imaginary spinmeister. He’s not exactly the sharpest imaginary pencil in the imaginary box, if you know what I mean.
Me: But…their imaginary spinmeister said that this will all just blow over if they wait it out.
Spinmeister: And that strategy worked soooo well for Lieberman. Listen, this thing is just getting started. It’s only two weeks old. And already there are grumblings among the Blackboard building blocks community that they shouldn’t be contributing code and ideas to a company that is just going to turn around and patent them. Word is getting out. You have to give your efforts time to have their effect.
Me: So we shouldn’t care that Blackboard’s CEO isn’t answering questions about the specific nature of the patent?
Spinmeister: Oh, you should care. You should continue to turn that against him. Keep educating people about what the patent actually says. Keep circulating the plain English translations. The more people know, the more concerned that they will be about the non-answers they get from Blackboard, and the more Chasen looks like a sleazy politician.
Me: Well…OK…but…he has a mantra and everything!
Spinmeister: Chill. You have a mantra too. Repeat after me: “Chilling innovation…chilling innovation…chilling innovation”…”anti-competitive…anti-competitive…anti-competitive”. The people that Blackboard is trying to spin mostly have PhD’s. They’re not stupid. And they understand how innovation happens through a collegial environment of collaborative research. If you can connect the dots for them so that they don’t have to do a lot of their own digging to understand the basic issues, they will do the right thing.
Me: What about his point that “no institutions or organizations with any clout has taken a stand” on the issue yet? Shouldn’t we be concerned about that?
Spinmeister: That may be the only accurate statement that my imaginary colleague made. Yes, institutions will need to step up. But he’s wrong to think that it won’t happen. The New York Times didn’t rush in to endorse Ned Lamont the first day. The fact of the matter is that institutions move in a different time stream than bloggers. The fact that no big players have jumped in two weeks into the conflict doesn’t mean that they are going to sit on the sidelines. Trust me, help is on the way. You just need to hang in there and keep getting your message out.
Me: Well, I admit this is all very comforting. But are you sure you’re right?
Spinmeister: Have I ever steered you wrong?
Me: Um…actually, we’ve never spoken before. Plus, you’re a figment of my imagination.
Spinmeister: You have a point there. But really, you’re OK. The community is on the right track and will prevail. Just take a deep breath, have a beer, and keep steady.
Me: You’re right. We’ll hang in there. Thanks.
Spinmeister: Hey, that’s why you pay me the big imaginary bucks.