Channel9: The Betsy Aoki Interview

The Channel9 Betsy Aoki interview is really good. Here's my write up of the interview. 

She begins the interview talking about Scott Hanselman, (Hansel Minutes) and the RD program.

Charles asks about community and uses “”air quotes.

Betsy talks about the history of Got Dot Net and BlogX by Chris Anderson.It’s amazing that the blogs had to be created by hand. Betsy talks about the progress of blogs from .Text to Community Server.

She mentions the super secret blog policy that Microsoft has and she discloses the “Blog Smart” tagline.

Charles asks a great question. Why is blogging important, and then asks the best question I’ve heard so far on Channel9, “who cares what Robert Scoble has to say?”
Betsy remains calm and then says she’s questions the sanity of the people who read her blog. Well betsy I read your blog, and I’m just your average joe.
Betsy goes on to give the standard answer to why blogs are important: the one to one connect, the person to person feedback. No offense to Betsy but I’ve heard that answer about a million times in a million different ways from about every Microsoft employee I’ve ever spoken with. I want to hear a much more interesting and compelling answer to the question of why blogs matter. Something apocalyptic or earth shatteringly impressive, but I digress.

As is classic Channel 9 we see Betsy login to her Machine…tsk tsk Betsy….your running Windows XP….where’s the Vista love?

 Shockingly Betsy appears to have a thing for Scott Hanselman(she claims he’s the reason she works late nights, and wrote the blue song for Got Dot Net—anyone know where I can get a copy of that?) as she get’s to stare at him everyday as his picture is emblazoned as her desktop wallpaper.

She mentions that Scott get’s her motivated, well whatever it takes!Just in passing, man her login process for Windows XP takes forever. One funny part of the video is at (7:18) when the camera zooms in to show Betsy’s hair after she just mentioned that she’s dyes her hair purple so that it doesn’t go gray….

Charles returning to serious topics asks Betsy why she joined Microsoft (8:05). A good question. And in response Betsy has a great answer. She joined the company because she was part of the left wing, communist bent Media as a newspaper reporter and was burnt out but swore he next job title would have “Web” in it. Low and behold she ended up at the Seattle times.

She started the local Seattle chapter of Web Girls(anyone know anything more about this?).  3000 members, wow!

She talks about the experience of women with dealing with technical men. Very interesting insights (11:43).

She talks about how recruiters really targeted the members, and she talks about how in interviews she would mention how Web girls was something she created that was bigger than just herself.

At 13:02 there appears to have been an edit. Grrr….editing.

At 13:20 Charles answers a great question about what WM_IN series focuses on, and how not every women interview on channel 9 falls into that category. 

An interesting conversation ensues at 13:40 about why so many men (and so few women) are drawn into technology. Great conversation, the real highlight of the video.

Betsy gives her on honest thoughts something about how the web technologies were the “gateway drug” to the other technologies.

Betsy makes a snide comment about how girls find technology boring and that girls think you have to lock yourself into a closet and eat gram crackers(14:30)….I like my closet and gram crackers very much… I’m not over weight, my girl friend doesn’t consider me boring and I’m freaking sexy.

Betsy makes a really great insight into how Girls aren’t being directed into places where they feel validated for being smart…I totally agree with her…I blame our educational systems and it is a crime.

Betsy admits to not being a coder(17:01)…which is perfectly fine..Betsy rocks in my book. However, I wish that Channel9’s WM_IN series would talk with a women who is a hard core corer….that would be cool…and in my arguments with co-workers about the issue I could point them to that video. Sigh…

Charles makes a great point about being “genuinely interested in the technical side of things”. Amen Charles…Amen.

Charles does  ask a kind of stupid question about who makes up stereotypes. Umm…Charles. They’re STEROTYPES…no-one makes them up…It society as a whole that creates them.

Charles makes a shocking statement that the majority of Microsoft employees don’t write code.

  <Rant> What shocks me is that 10 years ago the majority of employees did write code and look at what they created..Dos. NT. Windows 95…look at the Vista mess today. </Rant>

Charles then doubles back(19:25) and then asks how to do we get more women in technology. I think this is the main premise of the WM_IN series but I digress. Betsy gives an honest answer of giving women more exposure on both Channel 9 and at technical conferences.  I agree with her to a point, I hate how technical developer manuals are now being rewritten as all the programmer examples are women.

At 23:00, Betsy talks about the challenge for women of the work life balance and having a family.

At 25:00 Charles asks Jennifer who’s doing the camera work to ask some questions. (Seems like it would have been get

Another apparent edit occurs at (25: 30)…..grr.

The video goes way downhill at 25:40. Talking about poetry.(seems like the interview/conversation should have finished)

Jenifer asks a great question about whether Betsy and GotDotNet were threatened by Channel9. 26:45.

I like how Charles almost “yells” about the issue of whether threats within corporations. Great great moment!

Betsy  gives a great answer.

Another blatant edit occurs at (28:17), grrr…..

Jennifer asks a question about what happens when people aren’t nice to Betsy when she blogs. Betsy admits she may not like you if your mean to her.

At 29:20 Betsy talks about a blog post where she mentioned the ugliness of the MSDN buildings carpet…and the video looks at the carpet…sigh pointless.

AT 30:46 Betsy mentions her fan club. I think I’m a member….hehehe.

The remaining 3 minutes of video are about the “Blog Smart” policy and who can have a blog at

Did anyone else notice the Channel9 guy on her desk?

Overall Summary,
 A good conversation, I don’t know if watching all 33 minutes is worth it, but Betsy is a really great person to get to know. Having 3 edits to the video is disappointing; I’ve come to expect Channel9 videos not to have any edits. Overall on a scale of 1-5 nine guys I’d give this interview a solid 3. The questions are good, Betsy is lively and interesting, but having 3 edits, and the last 8 minutes of the video, killed its potential to be rated higher.

Explore posts in the same categories: Channel9 Interview Writeup

26 Comments on “Channel9: The Betsy Aoki Interview”

  1. […] She just got video-interviewed on Channel 9 and to my surprise mentioned me in the first few seconds of the talk. There’s already a review of the said video at Channel9Hawk.  […]

  2. Betsy Aoki Says:

    Hi Channel9Hawk,

    For some reason the formatting on this page had your black text on your black background. Not sure if it’s you or me, but wanted to warn you about that might be other folks’ user experience.

    When I say I’m not a coder I mean: relative to the people around me. I’ve done sys admin scripts in Perl (long ago), UI scripts in Javascript (even longer ago), and VB.NET coding as part of a class more recently…which I later turned into newbie articles for MSDN. Knowing the culture around tech folks on any platform, I won’t argue that that “counts” especially because I’m not likely to turn into a developer any time soon (I dig my job the way it is).

    It’s going to sound hopelessly neurotic but I don’t actually watch any videos of myself – podcasts, anything. I’d never do any video if I did. So I’m not sure whether the edits were critical ones or not, but from your review it sounds like the interesting bits were kept in, which is what matters. 33 minutes is astoundingly long, thanks for sitting through it.

    People may forget that for 2.5 years, I answered most Gotdotnet emails personally. Thousands upon thousands of them. If I didn’t believe that 1:1 customer stuff, I would have quit the company a long time ago or found another job. Blogs are a great way to express yourself, but every artist knows that its the dialogue of minds that matter in the artistic exchange, and every corporate blogger worth their salt knows that too. Also, for those of us who were saying this stuff long before the masses (and I mean folks like Josh Allen, early GDN bloggers) it’s not us jumping on the bandwagon. 🙂

    You can do a Web search and find the Gotdotnet blues song – it’s online still. Hanselman is sorta like the guy in the martial arts movies (and I mean that in a friendly way, he’s a cool person) but for Gotdotnet it was an icon, like his approval that would be toughest to win (like the old sensei) and I kept his photo to remind me 1) sucks less isnt’ winning the game, try harder but 2) there was a time when sucks less was out of reach and Gotdotnet made it past that.

    Not sure what else I can say since the rest is your opinion and you are welcome to it. Good luck with reviewing all the other videos coming down the pike (you will be busy) and with the blog! Cheers,


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