Tip of the iceberg

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I like to write on many things, including weblogging; but too much time spent on weblogging leaves me feeling as if I could have communicated better with my silence than my words. It’s like eating celery – you use more calories to eat the celery than you get from the plant, which is nothing more than fibrous flavored water.

Last night, I, and I’m sure many others, received an email from Mena Trott with an announcement that the new Movable Type pricing plan was to be put into place during the night. And so it was. My first reaction was, well that will take some of the heat off of Dave Winer. And that led me to realize that it was Blogger’s last unexpected release that took some of the heat off of Six Apart’s newly released pricing plan that caused so much agitation, and I wonder if all these meta-people plan this out accordingly.

“Ok, Ev, it’s your turn to muck with their heads tonight.”

“Righto! I was wondering when I get to play!”

However, I don’t think the Six Apart people will get flack this time because the pricing seems to be reasonable. Instead of paying $500.00 if I had continued with my previous installation, I’d only be paying $70.00 for unlimited weblogs, and that’s fair enough. I’m happy, though, with where I am–me with my fingers deep into the code creating a new database driven error log system, and wondering what I can break next.

What I’m using fits me now, and my quiet interest in tweaking. Movable Type just isn’t my tool anymore. But I wish Six Apart well with their newest price list, and I do hope they’ve dropped the Typekey requirement for downloading or buying the software.

Speaking of Typekey, I’ve noticed few sites have required it, even if they are running MT 3.x. I really don’t think most people want to require registration. I like how my comments are set up, with moderation on older posts, and on-demand moderation for posts that have degenerated into a slugfest. Though there is risk with anonmous posting, I still get too many thoughful posts from people who prefer not to identify themselves to think about requiring registration.

Yesterday, amidst the comments left from people I’ve come to know and appreciate, and even a couple of nice comments from old friends from the now gone co-op, I had a semi-anonymous writer drop a very compelling note into The Value of Free. This person, who goes by ‘J’ wrote:

Has anybody noticed the kind of “wait and see what I say next week” attitude Dave has? It’s almost as if he’s daring people to flame him so he can make them look like arseholes when he announces whatever it is.

J raises a good point, especially on days like yesterday when the natives are restless and the smell of blood is in the air. Will we or won’t we look like ‘arseholes’ if Dave Winer comes out with either a lovely humanitarian gesture next week, or a terrible illness.

I won’t feel any such regrets, or guilt about what I’ve written. I write from what I can see and what I know and, most importantly, what I honestly believe. I don’t write to be mean, though I may come across as mean. I don’t write to kick a person while they’re down, but they may be down and I don’t know it. If I’m critical, I hope it’s of actions or technology, not people. And I can only write on what I see at the time, not what lies hidden from view.

When we reference each other, we’re responding to what people want to put online about themselves, and it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Dave Rogers writes about the bashing of Dave Winer and compares it to a previous incident when he saw ‘mob mentality’:

The public bashing Dave Winer is taking for his handling of the hosting issue is vastly, yes, vastly, out of proportion to the surprise and inconvenience his action has imposed on others.

This is one of the worst features of weblogs, especially the comment facilities – a kind of emergent, “smart” mob mentality that enables people, even people who were in no way affected or inconvenienced by the move, to publicly dump on someone. It echoes of “the shaming of Marc Canter.”

He was under no real obligation to offer even as much as he did. There are a lot of people who are asserting all sorts of obligations, but again, what is their authority? Could he have handled things differently, perhaps better? Maybe so, but I think there’s more than a grain of truth to the idea that whatever he did would meet with criticism. Expressing disappointment or some form of unhappiness is appropriate. Making assertions regarding Mr. Winer’s health, his technical abilities, or his character is not.

Of course, we could say that Dave Rogers is holding all of us accountable, and what gives him the right? But this game can become a spiral with no end, and too much time has been spent on this incident as is.

Perhaps we have no rights to hold Dave Winer accountable for his actions, other than to express criticism that he’d yanked the weblogs for 3000who-the-hell-knows-how-many people with no prior warning and then put up a rather indifferent, some could say a callous note. (This was before some of us wrote about the incident and he then posted much more information in a ‘personal audioblog’– including a reference to his health, and the reasons for his actions.)

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been influenced by the fact that Dave Winer has spent the weekend trying to discredit Ben Hammersley or get him fired because Ben wrote an extremely mild essay about the Atom/RSS discussions for the Guardian and it didn’t meet Winer’s approval.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have let Mr. Winer’s comments about freeloaders in the past make a difference to me; nor his many attacks on Google or Six Apart for their support of Atom. And I would have to completely disregard the times when he’s called me sick and pathetic in my own comments, and in his weblog (always pulled), time and again, because I don’t agree with him.

I would even have to disregard my belief that those who hold themselves up as one of the leaders in the community in order to use their influence to take potshots at others, can’t bitch when they’re the recipients of shots themselves.

Past history and experience, in addition to what is not written, can also make up the body of the iceberg that lies beneath the waters. All of these events just given are separate from the event in question, and though they may influence response, should they be allowed to drive it?

Dave Rogers is responding to the tip of the iceberg when he writes about our reaction to Dave Winer’s actions. Which he then continues with a second essay, writing:

Some of us have, in our minds, a set of expectations regarding what a “better” choice would be. Implicit in those expectations, is the expectation that Dave Winer has that same knowledge. Does he? If he doesn’t, would he be required to agree? If so, why? When you receive a free service from someone, are you therefore entitled to burden that individual with your expectations? Did you afford that person prior notice that you were choosing to burden them with your expectations, and that furthermore, you would hold them “accountable” to your expectations? Could you have made a better choice? Who should hold you accountable for making a better choice? Me? Do you know how your mind works? Really? Why not?

Rogers could be right, and who are we to hold Winer accountable; to attack his character in addition to his action? But then again, maybe he’s wrong and all we’re doing is following a path laid out, stone by bloody damn stone, by Dave Winer himself. This may make us fools, for being pulled into the BS–again–but I don’t know if it makes us a ‘mob’.

Frankly, I don’t think Winer has been much harmed by the writings of the last few days; I don’t think he’s unhappy about how all of this has turned out. Not unhappy at all, but that’s me talking with the view of the entire iceberg in front of me, not just the tip.

Dave Winer writes today about why he didn’t give any kind of notice or won’t respond to people offering help if they don’t do Manila, exhorting Rogers Cadenhead to hurry up and deliver a transition server, when Rogers volunteered to help. He talks about other things on his mind:

All the time I spend addressing the needs of random people outside the community, is time I’m not spending helping people in the community. So I’m choosing not to spend time on these offers, when I get offers from people who understand what a Manila site is, I’ll pursue that. I’m still waiting for Rogers to get a very simple transition server up and running. Hurry up guys.

I remind people I’m just a person, and I have a complicated life already. Regardless what the press says, it’s still true. I had two doctor’s appts yesterday and one today. I may need surgery. This isn’t a life-threatening illness, but it’s not a fun thing either. Moving on June 30. So there are other things on my mind, believe it or not.

He also writes in response to our criticism, Shame on you, I say. Well, so does Dave Rogers.

Shame on us…but not for the reasons either Rogers or Winer give. Or should I say, shame on me.

If Dave is seriously ill, he’ll have my best wishes for a speedy recovery. If he’s broke, he’ll have my empathy…and a recommendation not to stay in 150.00 a night hotel rooms. If he dies I’ll regret the loss of a unique individual and the sadness others will experience–but I won’t regret what I write about his actions. Ever.

Unless the writing just feeds the beast.

This story is so one minute ago and I’ve spent enough time on it, to no great benefit of anyone, least of all myself. It really is time for me to move on. To something else. Anything else.

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