As ZuneMAX.com has become more popular the number of critics has increased as well. On occasion I have received random emails and now comments in blog posts about Zune MAX being astroturf. The
first time I heard about astroturfing was from these emails. According to Wikipedia astroturfing is as follows:
In politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the “AstroTurf” (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate “fake grassroots” support.
ZuneMAX.com is not astroturf because we lack the "formal public relations" tangent and whether you can believe it or not we are in fact a genuine "spontaneous grassroots behavior". Until the day before the Zune launch I had never been given one single thing from Microsoft except a link on Zuneinsider.com and an interview with Dave Caulton and Bill Wittress which they offered to every Zune fan in the universe. When I was invited to attend the free concert on the beach to cover the event for the real PR campaign I was given a tshirt by a chick in the bar across the street because I chased her down for one and at the end of the evening myself and three friends were treated to dinner with a few others by the Microsoft representative as thanks for our help that day. I had a Chicken Cesaer salad and two rum and cokes, my friends kicked a few beers and seafood on "Uncle Bill". I’m gonna give the tshirt to a Zune fan in the forums. We talked Zune and Xbox over a meal and a drink on the beach. We talked as much about the beach the people and the weather as we did Zune. No secrets, no gifts, no promises and no information beyond whats publically known except that Microsoft is supposed to send me a Zune to review someday.
I passed out $200 worth of my own promotional materials to people on the beach to build our Zune community free to Microsoft because I am having fun with the community and I want to see it flourish. One might think they would offer some support to Zune fans but maybe they are smarter than that and see no reason to because they know that fans will exist on their own. I have not seen Microsoft do anything for this site more than what I have admitted to above. If it exists its anonymous and pretty stealth because I simply do not see it, at least not here.
ZuneMAX.com is a fan site which can easily be construed as astroturf because of my real interest but its not. I’m not making a conscious effort to sway opinion nor am I a Microsoft fanboy. If I were this site would not be built almost exclusively on open source software like WordPress.org and SimpleMachines.org and I most likely would not program in PHP using a MySql database on my FreeBSD / Apache webserver.
I do run a PC with XP because Windows is what I learned on and its a superior business tool that runs a variety of applications most linux toys can’t run. This PC does not have Word or any other Office application installed on it except Frontpage which I used back in 1998 for web dev and still keep around for some reason. I run Openoffice.org for office productivity and I run Firefox exclusively. I only keep IE installed and up to date for testing my sites which I often times neglect. This is why my design looks like crap in IE most of the time. I build for Firefox now and I let IE users suffer their own choice.
I use Thunderbird for email and cannot stand bloatware like Outlook. Microsoft software often times does too much for the average user. This causes bloated code and heavy applications. I think they should break software apps up into much smaller modules that can be installed individually based on need by the end user. I am not a coder but a 10 year pc/internet veteran and I think they should reduce the amount of code by giving me exactly what I need which I feel is what Firefox does best. I have dozens of extensions that do exactly what I need them to do and its sweet.
is awesome and if you are not using it you are missing out.
I own a black Zune that I paid $267 for because I was actually interested in the device. No mess about it I bought 10 domains on July 11 and built this site on the same day with the thoughts of capitalizing on this Zune announcement and Microsofts investment. I became a fan of the device after learning more about it and primarily after my articles on the future of the Zune DRM which I need to update soon because I have so many more ideas about where Zune can go its amazing. I see Zune more for what it can be later then what it is today.
We have all seen enough open the box Zune reviews. I have not owned a portable music player since my Sony Walkman Cassette player back so long ago. I’m not a tech guy or a gadget head or an audiophile of any sorts. I like music and I think the Zune is a cool player with innovative features. I’ve had mine now a few days and I’m taking my time to write a thorough and honest review from a novices viewpoint. I’m a first time mp3 player owner schooled on the Windows platform and an original Xbox owner. I think I fall into the demograpohics of most likely Zune buyers but I’m not a fanboy.
I’ll write an honest review of my Zune experience for the community that’s been built around my interest in the device. I’ll tell you what I like and what I dislike in a fair and objective fashion with the hopes I can help some fans learn more about the player so they can make a better informed choice when they are ready to buy. You can buy just about anything you want through our relationships with Amazon and Walmart including a Zune, an iPod or the many other devices on the market. If we’re lucky Microsoft, Apple and the others will listen to us and make improvements on all sides. In the end its best for consumers and that’s us, the regular people who actually buy these things.
The political implications of Astroturfing are scary to say the least. The capabilities to sway public opinion are a powerful mechanism and all of us should be aware of who controls the grass we walk on. Astroturfing exists and its a nasty thing by any description but it’s not happening here, at least not yet. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on further developments