Monday, February 09, 1998 at 1:05:27 PM Pacific

Mason on Working With Dave

In Linux, 2/6/98, I said: "Sometimes I wish the superstars would just stick around to coach the new superstars on how to deal with me. [Mason, are you listening? Meet Preston, Seth, Matt, Jim, Bijan, Phil, and...]".

I just got an email from Mason, here's what he said:

Mason on Working With Dave

Dave - I'm listening.

I do regret being out of the Frontier loop. I still lurk on the mailing lists. But truth be told, I rarely launch Frontier these days.

I do have MkLinux running on my Mac now (dual-boot). So I've been playing a little in Linux land. I set up an Apache server, and am trying to connect with local Unix culture.

What advice could I give to new superstars on how to deal with you?

Here it is:

Get a feel for Dave's modes of work. Sometimes he's in "exploration" mode, and open to new ideas. Other times he's in "shipping" mode, clamping things down, squashing bugs and shipping software. The third mode is "rest" mode. It's a cycle: create, complete, rest. DaveNet and the Scripting news page are good indicators of Dave's current mode.

It's best to approach Dave with new ideas when he's already in exploration mode. If he's busy shipping software, he won't have the time or concentration to pay attention to new ideas. If he asks you to test a new script, and he's in shipping mode -- he's looking for cracks that need fixing, not new directions. Save your new ideas for the next cycle.

Another indicator -- I've found Dave tended to use the phone more when he was in "shipping" mode. If he calls you (or wants you to call him) it's because he needs an immediate answer or input, not another distraction. So stick to the point and try to stay focused when on the phone. When Dave's shipping software keep your emails short too. No long diatribes.

Dave seems to take a short vacation or break after shipping something new. When he gets back, that's probably the best time to throw out new ideas.

Dave can come across as opinionated and stubborn. He is! But he will listen to your argument, and will respect your opinion. He can be persuaded to change his mind. The burden is on you to make a good argument.

I started my relationship with Dave by basically telling him he did CGI scripting all wrong in Aretha. He made me prove my point, and after I did, he put his trust in me to do it right.

So if you pitch a new idea to Dave and he doesn't respond positively, either you caught him at the wrong time or you need to make a better argument. Knowing when to wait for a better time and when to make a better argument is, in my opinion, the key to successfully collaborating with Dave Winer.

Another tip: don't read meaning into Dave's messages. If you're not sure what he meant, don't make an assumption, instead ask for clarification.

Mason Hale

This page was last built on 2/9/98; 3:13:37 PM by Dave Winer. dave@scripting.com