DS SolidWorks this month has been inviting bloggers and editors to its headquarters to preview SolidWorks 2010. (We editors are puzzled why we are being flown in one at a time, rather than all at once in a group -- but that's another story.)
I was looking forward to my trip next week, but then I read Roopinder Tara's travelogue at CAD Insider, Bound and Gagged, in which he reported that an unnamed software company [wink, wink] placed him under embargo and so he cannot report on the product's new features until 1 September.
I had planned to live-blog my SolidWorks visit, just as I did with the visit to Autodesk's Inventor offices earlier this year. So when Mr Tara used the E-word, I reread the email of invitation from Beaupre (SolidWorks' pr firm), but found no mention of an embargo or an NDA [non-disclosure agreement]. Last night, I asked Beaupre to confirm/repudiate the rumor. (Update: Beupre confirms that the embargo is being sprung on arriving guests: "We have asked reporters to honor a 9/1 embargo on the SW 2010 release.")
To a busy editor, the formula looks like this:
Two days of travel + Non-exclusivity of the news = What's in it for me?As Mr Tara noted, embargoes made sense in the old days when it took 2-3 months for articles to appear in print. But these are no longer the old days; today, we editors even deal in pre-news -- announcing news before it occurs.
The Vendors' Point of View
Deelip Menezes* reminded me that Scott Sheppard of Autodesk explained the corporate defense for embargoes www.deelip.com/?p=410&cpage=1#comment-1123>:
Embargos are a long-standing part of the information sharing process. It allows the information to be widely disseminated over a period of time but have that information become public at the same time. In this way, one blogger does not "scoop" another. All bloggers can start posting at the same time.
For vendors, this position makes perfect sense, especially from public corporations who need to protect against insider training of shares. (Autodesk, however, has twice allowed selected bloggers to spill the beans on new AutoCAD releases before all others.)
The Editors' Point of View
For editors like me, however, the phrase "at same time" is the crux of the problem. What benefit do my publications gain from posting the same news as everyone else and at the same time? This is why I never wrote a review the new 3D mouse from 3dconnexion, for example.
In an earlier posting, I noted that I like the Wall Street Journal's new policy: they accept embargoes only if they get exclusivity (which I would define as a 24-hour lead on everyone else).
Corporations love parrots. My guiding principle is instead something Yoav Etiel told me in the early days of upFront.eZine:
"Tell me what I don't know."Otherwise, there is no point to reading upFront.eZine and WorldCAD Access.
As to why my publications should deserve to get exclusives from any vendor, they don't need to. Several CAD vendors ignore me, such as Bentley Systems and Dassault Systemes. Others see a benefit to working exclusively with upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
*) Deelip Menezes has since posted his commentary on the SolidWorks embargo under "Bound, Gagged and P***ed".