Matthew X profrv at nex.net.au
Fri May 7 07:46:02 PDT 1999

Co-opting the Underground
On the TiVo Community Forum (see Online Resources), people literally obsess 
about TiVo, the personal video recorder. The site carries discussions on 
everything from tech support, to general chit chat, to the TiVo 
Underground, where hackers post about what they've learned by opening up 
their TiVo boxes and mucking with the insides.
When the folks at TiVo discovered this forum (it started independently), 
they could have called in the lawyers. Instead, they sponsored the site, 
offered TiVo branding elements, and linked to it from the official TiVo site.
Richard Bullwinkle was the Webmaster for the TiVo corporate site at the 
time, and he saw the site's power. He worked closely with the forum's 
creator, David Bott, to make it better, and answer questions from the 
official TiVo perspective.
Is TiVo happy with everything that goes on there? Of course not. "Every now 
and then some executive says, what is this?" says Bullwinkle. "My response 
is: What part of the Internet don't you understand?"
Postings may be hard to take sometimes, but TiVo is gaining incredible 
insight into its users. When users have a problem, TiVo is the first to 
know. In time, the forum will help TiVo make a better product. And when 
forum users begin to see that their suggestions make it into future product 
versions, they'll feel intimately connected with TiVo—a bond that won't be 
easily broken.
Things have worked out well for Bullwinkle, too. After the TiVo community's 
success, he was promoted to Chief Evangelist. Everyone in the forums still 
knows him simply by his login: "TiVolutionary."
Interesting thread at...
My fave? Infoshop.

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