Scripting News for 8/13/07

Fantastic Holiday Inn commercial 

I saw this commercial in March, and have been looking for it ever since. A group of Dilberts is hanging out in a Holiday Inn, talking about a blogger they work with. :-)

Back in Berkeley 

I love driving my new car. It’s fast. Feels strange to be home, to not be moving. But it’s a nice house to come home to! :-)

First thing on my to-do list, figure out why the next-prev links broke as soon as I left home. (Update: They’re fixed. Trivial bug.)

Sylvia reviews Gnomedex and the main Seattle library.

Apologies to Calacanis 

I gave it some thought, and I decided to apologize to Jason for interrupting his speech at Gnomedex. I wish I hadn’t done it. It’ll never happen again. That’s a promise.

That said, I have a lot of trouble believing that a street fighter from Brooklyn (I’m from Queens) is still having an emotional time with this. But some people are very sensitive, and I’m willing to believe, long enough to apologize, that Jason is still feeling emotional about being interrupted on Friday.

However it could also be a tactic, an attempt to silence a critic. I’ve seen that done before too. Recently I objected to a piece written by Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb, where he characterized my posts about RSS as warfare. I asked him if there was a way I could write about RSS without it being warfare. Richard is a good guy, who I’ve met many times, and I know him to be thoughtful, and he had a thoughtful response. The answer is that I should be able to write about RSS without it being characterized as warfare.

If the blogosphere is about anything, it’s about discourse. So if someone has an opinion about a format or a product, not only are they allowed to express their opinion, it’s actually encouraged. It seems this is part of our shared values. So we should be very careful about characterizing mere writing as somehow harmful, or war-like. Imagine if President Bush had written a series of blog posts about Saddam Hussein instead of starting a war. Wouldn’t the world be better off if he had? (I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m making a point).

Writing freely is also an American value, not just a value of the blogosphere, it’s right there in the Constitution. We are encouraged to speak our mind. And if I may be so bold, it’s also a special value of people from New York. So if a boy from Brooklyn doesn’t want a boy from Queens to write his ideas on a blog, well that’s not a problem for the boy from Queens. :-)

I also offered, in a comment on the Wired blog, that Mike Arrington, the co-host of the TechCrunch 20 conference, has used exactly the same method as I use. When he’s sitting in an audience and has trouble with something someone says, he says so. There were a number of people who did it during morning sessions at Gnomedex on Friday, and other people did it during Jason’s talk, in fact I wasn’t even the first one to speak out. So forgive me if I feel like I’m being used as a scapegoat. It seems Jason’s problem isn’t with my approach, or even me personally. It must be something else.

Honestly I think I hit the nail in my post on Saturday. I think we ought to discuss his product, Mahalo, and see if we can’t come up with a business that works for him and his investors, and for the blogging and podcasting world, maybe even for developers. If you read this blog you know that I’m into win-wins. I’ve been writing about it for many many years, and it’s a sincere thing, I’ve backed the writing up with action. It’s where XML-RPC and SOAP came from, where RSS and OPML came from, and believe it or not, its where blogging itself came from, something Jason has profited from enormously. I don’t begrudge him that, but then he shouldn’t begrudge my right to speak, even if I’m saying things he doesn’t like.

If I may quote from I a piece I wrote in 1996, after attending a conference where every speaker gave a talk like Jason’s: “Here’s an invitation to truly embrace the creativity of others. Instead of beating your breast about how great you are, try saying how great someone else is. Look for win-wins, make that your new religion. Establish a policy that nothing will be announced unless it can be shown that someone else will win because of what you’re doing. How much happier we would be if instead of crippling each other with fear, we competed to empower each others’ creativity.”

A lot of people read that, and it was widely quoted. I think in some ways this is the anthem of Web 2.0. It’s our core shared value. If you can’t find a way for other people to win with your product, then imho, you should keep looking. As I said on Saturday, no matter how much we may dislike or distrust Google, they found that sweet spot, and they haven’t wandered off it. So when Jason launches his company with disrespect for Google, he’s dissing us too, asking us to overlook a basic contradiction in his proposal.

I think when he proposed to his investors he treated them with no more respect than he did us, but he probably couched the proposal in better terms. He must have told them they would make money, but if they look deeper, I think they’ll find the same problem I found. And all the personal attacks can’t hide that.

On Saturday I resigned as an advisor to the TechCrunch 20 conference, but I’m not going to stop giving them advice. I think Jason should present Mahalo there, and let the reviewers take him apart. It’ll be good for him and for his company, and maybe if he finds a good proposition, good for us too.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Dave,

    my respect. It takes greatness to publicly apologize and even more to carry it through in terms of consequences. Let’s see how those who criticized you will react. Their reaction will speak for them.

    Christoph

    Reply

  2. Not sure how you want to do it Dave, but one of things I pay for to attend Gnomedex is for people like you (heck, especially you) to challenge presenters. If I wanted to get uninterupted powerpoint led presentations, I’d go back to attending legal conferences.

    Gnomedex is about open discussion. If the discussion were online, we’d expect challenges. Why not expect them at a conference on blogging and online media?

    As long as someone is not an obnoxious bore in dragging on challenges from the audience (and you were not) why not allow and foster challenges – it does cause us to think, and that’s what Gnomedex and other conferences are all about.

    Reply

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