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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Russo & Hale threatens defamation suit Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Earlier today my lawyers received a letter from Jack Russo, my former attorney and former friend, demanding that I retract statements I made here on Scripting News.

I just had a conference with my attorneys, and read some background on libel law as it applies to bloggers, from the EFF, and California's anti-SLAPP statute.

I'm not going to, at this time: 1. Publish their letter; 2. Link to the portions of articles they want retracted; 3. Retract anything previously published.

I am going to spend some time thinking about this, studying, and learning about libel law to find out what the options are.

I am going to solicit the opinion of readers of this site, especially those who are lawyers.

I take my integrity as a blogger seriously. I only say things I believe to be true; and if there's any doubt, I label opinions as such. I have at times made mistakes, and when that happens, I retract and apologize. If I have done this, in the matter of Russo & Hale and its lawsuit against me, UserLand and VeriSign, I will both retract and apologize. But anything I do is going to be done openly and in consultation with the readers of Scripting News.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

ThinkGeek: USB Rocket Launcher.

Jackie Danicki: "I'm struck by all the fear of O'Reilly there seems to be out there."

Rafe Needleman shows how to use RSS to connect Twitter and Jaiku.

I think I'm pretty close to done in transitioning the dynamic RSS site into a static Apache-served site. I did get the blog posts moved over after all. I reviewed the spec carefully, word for word, and all the links. Everything seems to work.

O'Reilly's code of conduct Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fireman.gifWe all seem to be speaking with one voice today, this code of conduct idea is not a good one. Of course the NY Times couldn't resist putting it on page one since it confirms their assertion that the blogosphere is a bad place. Maybe next time well-intentioned people will avoid the rush to perform for the big publications.

Jeff Jarvis: "O'Reilly only set us up to be called nasty, unmannered, and thus uncivilized hooligans."

Mike Arrington: "It feels like a big angry mob is arming itself to the teeth and looking for targets, and I need to choose whether I'm with them or against them."

I don't think a mob is forming this week, around this issue. The emotional rages have predictable cycles. A catalyst appears, a few days of escalating emotion, then it dies down, and people are left with a bad feeling from all the venting, and some people are really badly hurt.

The thing I'd like to see is not a code of conduct for commenters (O'Reilly's exercise proves how pointless it is), rather a code of conduct for well-intentioned individuals when mobs are forming. How can you subtract energy from the stampede? And what can you do to help the people who are being hurt by it?

If you look at how the mob formed around Kathy Sierra, you'll see a fair number of A-list and near-A-list bloggers who are frustrated by trolls. Some who were targets of abuse had never been targeted this way, probably had never even seen anyone targeted this way. I got a phone call from Maryam Scoble, who until the mob scene, considered me a friend; she was enraged that I wasn't joining in condemning the people the mob was devouring (who weren't, imho, responsible for the really nasty stuff). Her rage didn't sway me, I let my comments stand, unedited.

Today Tim is trying to justify the stampede, and the way it went after the wrong people. There's no justification. If you want to heal from this, and I gather from reading many of the posts that's the undercurrent, a good way to do it is to take back the mean things you said about the people who weren't responsible. If you don't want to retract them publicly, do it privately.

I have been at the center of these riots, some have even been led by Tim O'Reilly. The damage continues to this day, in the form of people who think what they say about me must have an element of truth to it. In a world where people don't always meet each other face to face to form their own opinions, this kind of tagging can be permanent and hurtful and costly.

If you want to reform the blogosphere, here's where to start. Have a brigade of people whose job it is to put out fires when they start. To defend the people who no one wants to defend. That, imho, would be a very positive first step.

Meanwhile in other news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This just in!

Apple got me again. I broke down and ordered an AppleTV yesterday. I saw someone did an RSS reader for it. It's pretty bare-bones. But now I have to get my fingers in there and start adding my own hacks. I also bought an HDMI-to-HDMI cable (theirs was pretty cheap!) and an extra Mac power cable. Someone asked if I would be buying an ApplePhone, and I groaned. "I don't want to, but I probably will," I admitted.

Saw two movies over the weekend -- House of Sand and Fog, and Stranger than Fiction. Both had chances to be great, but neither achieve anything close to it. House is a really grim movie, which is something I don't mind in a movie, but -- it had zero suspension of disbelief. So I was watching from the outside, not in the story at all, amazed at how bad things could go, but not really feeling it. Oh well.

And Stranger than Fiction was trying to be Sixth Sense-ish or John Malkovich-like, or a clone of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a tricky movie, with great acting. It had good acting, and great actors, but a stupid plot that oversold itself. In the end you feel the energy was sucked out of you for nothing. Just a void. You wanted to laugh (Will Ferrell is the star after all) and you wanted to get involved (Emma Thompson) and you owed them respect (Dustin Hoffman) and they had style (Queen Latifah) but the whole thing didn't come together. Oh well. You gotta watch some mediocre movies so you really get to appreciate the great ones.

Hope Tim O'Reilly doesn't feel this post is uncivil. ;->

What kind of kid was Tim O'Reilly? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As I think about this code of conduct thing, I find myself wondering what kind of kid Tim O'Reilly was.

It made me think of an idea Ponzi has for Gnomedex. She's thinking of asking my mother to give an interview on stage. I know Ponzi loves me, so I'm actually thinking of supporting the idea. (My mother also loves me, btw.)

I think the kind of kid each of us was has a lot to do with how we approach things as adults.

I was bullied a bit when I was a kid, but then I shot up and the bullies mostly left me alone and picked on smaller kids. I couldn't help but identify with them, and I felt bad that I didn't put myself between the bully and the kids they tormented. And I have definitely been pushed around in the blogosphere, and as I mentioned earlier, the biggest bully on my blog block is Tim O. So I find it pretty ironic that he's the one calling for civility.

But I digress.

I wonder what Tim was like when he was a kid. What did he get in trouble for, or maybe he didn't. I don't want to presume to know, but I wonder.

Since he's made our behavior such an issue, and mine in particular, for so many years, in so many ways, it seems only fair to ask some questions about him.


Last update: Monday, April 09, 2007 at 7:24 PM Pacific.

Dave Winer, 51, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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Scripting News

On This Day In: 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

April 2007
Mar   May

Things to revisit:

1.Microsoft patent acid test.
2.What is a weblog?
3.Advertising R.I.P.
4.How to embrace & extend.
5.Bubble Burst 2.0.
6.This I Believe.
7.Most RSS readers are wrong.
8.Who is Phil Jones?
9.Send them away.
10.Negotiate with users.
11.Preserving ideas.
12.Empire of the Air.
13.NPR speech.
14.Russo & Hale.
15.Trouble at the Chronicle.
15.RSS 2.0.
16.Checkbox News.
17.Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.
18.Twitter as coral reef.

Teller: "To discover is not merely to encounter, but to comprehend and reveal, to apprehend something new and true and deliver it to the world."

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