Scanning news today, I see in my referrers a link from the new aggregators discussion group to my outliner AmphetaDesk skin. Curious, I go check it out and see what looks like a bit of grumbling between Dave Winer and Morbus Iff. I make my way back to near the head of the thread to see what's what, where I find a link to Morbus' post of opinioned and somewhat ranty disagreement toward Dave's definition of the modern News Aggregator. What disturbs me is that the grumbling quickly ends with:

Bill -- I'm going to unsubscribe from this list now. The neener boys are in charge. Take care. Dave
Now first of all, I too disagree with Dave's definition, and have posted as much. Although I did so in a less rant-mode manner, both Morbus and I pointed to the fact that the news aggregator definition served the goals of Radio 8.0 marketing, being that the definition very specifically identified the features of his own product. Rant or not, the point is made.

What disappoints me about Dave's response on-list, though, is that instead of addressing the content of the disagreement, he goes after the ranting and hits back with a smidgen of ad-hominem of his own while calling for the "high road". Then, once he's tagged on the ad-hominem he unsubscribes and dismisses the list altogether, never actually acknowledging the original point made.

Now, though I don't have a link, I've read several times where Dave has disparaged discussion groups and offered linked weblogs as the superior alternative. I've read his essay on Stop Energy. I'm aware of his position toward the grousings and grumblings and flamings that go on within a discussion group. And I've nodded my head almost every time he's written about these things - freeform discussions on the net can sometimes - but not always - be a clusterfuck of morons and Stop Energy.

Maybe it's just because Dave is so intolerably fed up with any hint of a clusterfuck that he dropped off the list. I wouldn't put up with much shit either, especially after heart surgery. But to me it looked like pretty defensive behavior right from the get-go. Morbus even gave somewhat of an apology (for him :) ) and moved on to politely hit the issues.

I guess this bugs me a bit, along with other UserLand-related thoughts I've had lately, for this reason: Here's a discussion group devoted to the very nature and future of one of the headline features of RadioUserLand. And the people there are some of the most prevalent names I've seen appear time and time again in relation ot the subject. I would think that this would be a dream group for him, in terms of driving and benefiting from innovation. Instead, it takes only a small amount of rant to drive him away.

See, I've never met him, but I think I'd like Dave personally. Yes, I know his writings often have one foot or both feet in marketing for his products. But, I can't recall his denying this, and I see it as the natural behavior of someone who really thinks he's got something hot. He gives favor to his customers in his posts, and he has his own opinions. But I know these things, and I still like his software, and I still buy it.

On the other hand, it's clear that sometimes he doesn't give equal time to points which may be contradictory or unfavorable to his side of things, and sometimes he gets things wrong. But he's not a journallist - he's a blogger who writes from the hip and sees what flies. Whether he lies outright is another story I haven't the first inclination to follow up on, but the very nature of his product stands to check and balance to him there. He can't get away with too much with his own customers calling him on things.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. What really bothers me about the quick dismissal of the list seems like a "See?! This is what I mean!" demonstration on-list, and I almost expect a post later again promoting weblogs over DG's altogether. But I didn't even see him give the list a chance, and I think that's sad given the brain power in that roster. Granted, it's his perogative to have slim thresholds for annoyance, but I'd think this would be value for his company and product. As I said, I like his software, but he's refusing free help and consultation on the future of his product. I see those involved in groups like this taking their products beyond his, even those that were originally direct clones of his. Maybe this ends up tying into his grousing on Open Source versus commercial software eventually.

On the other hand, maybe he just thinks he doesn't need any help of this sort and has the sheer magnitude of innovational mojo to leave us all in the dust. If so, rock on. :) As for me, I just joined the list.


Archived Comments

  • Yes, that was a sticky start to the group. Thanks for taking your thoughts on this off the group. Hopefully, we've quickly learned and moved on, and the group will be cordial and productive. And we may yet see Dave's return (his opinions are valued), if the tone stays that way.
  • I'd thought about writing something little to the list, but no. I don't want to contribute to the noise when I personally want to see lots of signal. So I won't write until I have something to say or see something for which I have a reply - about news aggregation. After all, that is the topic :)
  • other UserLand-related thoughts I've hate lately Semi-intentional typo, or Freudian finger-slip? Hmmm...
  • D'oht. Didn't *intend* the that meaning. :) I really do like UserLand. hehe