About a year ago, I went with some friends to the Banff Mountain Film Festival as it toured. The festival attracts some of the most amazing mountain sports filmmaking in the world. One video chronicled Alex Honnold’s free solo climbing attempt of Half Dome in Yosemite. He made it. The festival invites you to put aside incredulity and just let your jaw drop. People do crazy, crazy things in the name of fun and when you combine this with mountains, the results are stunning.

Even so, when they showed a clip called Megawhoosh during the preview, the whole crowd took in a collective gasp. Stop and watch:

Then over the holidays, I found the video again to show some family members when my cousin’s husband broke the news:

The film is a fake: http://www.snopes.com/photos/advertisements/megawoosh.asp

I was crushed. I bet Santa’s not real either.

Turns out Microsoft Germany did the film to promote Microsoft Project 2007. I don’t know if it sold much software for them, but it sure made a good viral video. It’s hard to create a good illusion and even harder to maintain the illusion for very long. This video did both.

This was just another example to me of how the best way to combat misinformation is through yet more information. The internet is a powerful tool for creating illusions, but that same power rips down the curtain pretty quickly as well.

I think this principle applies to support. A big part of the complaints I hear about support are not with the support itself, but with the uncertainty of the support process. It’s all so opaque. I submit my ticket and….and…I don’t know what happens. And maybe I don’t need to know. But I want to know, and I’ve gotten used to knowing a whole host of other information that I don’t strictly need. I’m tracking two or three FedEx packages now just because I can.

I didn’t need to know that Megawhoosh was a fraud. I would have been happier if I had not known. But for support, the illusion is already blown. People want to know what’s happening behind the curtain and until we in support give them the information they seek, their misinformation will be more damaging than any information we can give them.