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Affirmative Action

Thursday, January 8, 1998 by Dave Winer.

I was flamed yesterday, one more time, from what remains of the Mac zealots. When will they get the clue that I was never part of their cause? I don't want it. I don't think it's much of a cause. I think there are bigger more interesting causes to be part of.

There are lessons to learn from the platform wars. Some philosophies are uncovered. This is interesting. The message from the zealots seems to echo Apple's slogan, with an addendum. Think different! they say. As long as you think as we do. Oooops.

I have a better slogan. Think for yourself! That's meant in the positive and in the negative. In the positive, thinking for yourself says you may come to different conclusions than I do. In the negative, it means stop telling me how to think.

Anyway, yesterday's cause for flames was a link I placed on the Scripting News home page to the CNBC interview with Steve Jobs on Tuesday. Jobs walked off the set, saying that the reporter, Bruce Francis, had broken an agreement not to ask questions on a certain topic. The reporter says there was no such deal. I believe him. I know that a good reporter doesn't make deals. To have the job that he has, he has to subscribe to a general journalist ethic that says no deals.

But even if Francis broke a deal, it was not astute of Jobs to walk away. My inner-journalist feels pain at the accusation. Because it's on the web, totally public, everyone can feel the chill. Imagine how he deals with employees? With developers? Stockholders? Board members? Potential CEOs? Oh man. A cold wind! It doesn't feel good.

A Be Fund? Permalink to A Be Fund?

I've been getting more mail lately from enthusiasts who want a Be version of our software.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, I want to see the Be OS gain traction, become a popular operating system, with lots of developers and users. The more operating systems there are, the more features we'll get in other operating systems. There's a bunch of value in starting over. And people who know good technology rave about the Be OS.

But every operating system is a collection of leaps of faith adding up to critical mass. The Be system isn't there yet. The pump needs more priming. We can help by moving our source code to their APIs. We'd like to do that, but there's no investment capital available to fund this development. I can't move dollars from my savings account into programmer's pockets to make this happen. If I can't raise money to make the software, we can't make the software.

I've tried to explain this to my friend Jean-Louis Gassee, the president of Be, but he doesn't seem to hear me. Maybe he wants a Be Fund to exist and the VCs and investment bankers have said no? I don't know. He hasn't said.

Anyway, I thought I'd raise the issue publicly. There's no shortage of talented programmers who want to make software for this OS. The VCs have so much money they can't figure out what to do with it. Maybe it's time for them make a leap of faith and do something strategic. Sooner or later the opportunities will run out; planting a few seeds now in a friendly OS could make a big difference. Think of it as a savings account for a rainy day. All that's needed is money for developers and the Be thing takes off.

Java's lifecycle Permalink to Java's lifecycle

If you read one piece on Java this month, please read this landmark story in Marketing Computers magazine. There are so many great soundbites. The author, Claire Tristram, totally gets it. She's been listening to developers. The promise of Java, once so bright, is not so bright now. Sun is playing a stock market game. Their developer story is full of lies and unanswered questions.

Then check this out. Mirror images. I'm a developer writing about the press, Ms. Tristam is a member of the press writing about developers. Same story! Cooool.

Remember Karla Faye Permalink to Remember Karla Faye

The email exchanges resulting from the first two pieces this year, Men Stay Silent and Male Anger, provided me with more opportunities to grow than some entire years in my life! I made a decision to discuss gender issues publicly and let the chips fall where they may. These were heavily and carefully edited pieces. It took me a whole lifetime of struggling with the opposite sex to get thru it and give myself permission to say what I had to say.

There was some luck involved. I didn't know about the Karla Faye Tucker case until after the first piece was out. It was a perfect vehicle for illustrating the differences in how we view each of our genders. Here's a case where a woman committed a horrible crime, and the knee-jerk response is forgiveness, kindness, understanding, clemency. But these are things we all deserve, especially men who have never killed or physically hurt anyone.

To people in the press, the Karla Faye Tucker case deserves exposure. We may be able to save her life. And this may be the best chance we have to expose the contradictions of capital punishment. A lot of healing is possible here. If we let her die without a discussion we will have taken a major step backwards.

February 3, her execution date, is pretty close.

Brotherhood and friendship Permalink to Brotherhood and friendship

When I was a boy most of my friends were boys. It was so easy to be friends back then, there was so little in the way. Now it's more complicated, but I found out that it doesn't need to be.

The response from men to the two pieces was overwhelming. The boys are mature now, but there's still a brotherhood. I found out that there are lots of men who want to be friends. This is a new idea, to me at least.

Some people questioned the relevance of this stuff to my usual topic, life in the software industry. But it's very relevant. With few exceptions, the companies are run by men. So despite what some people think, writing about men is exactly on-topic for the software industry. Like it or not, for better or worse, male issues are the issues of the software business.

That's the big picture. Here's the big answer. Let's empower each other to do the best we can. We can be who we are and be part of a team that accomplishes a lot. Why not? If there are people who don't want to play, that'll be their loss. We'll win! Eventually they'll want to play too. I'm sure of it.

Affirmative action Permalink to Affirmative action

Now that I've spoken my male issues, amazingly I find it easier to listen to the woman's point of view!

I've heard a bunch of stories about male limits imposed on females.

About men who physically abuse women.

About little girls who are taught to be worthless by adult men.

About adult women who can't unlearn their worthlessness.

I admire women for reaching out to me, a man, given all the terrible things that men have given them. Imagine how much courage it takes to wonder, looking at a man's smile, if he's going to love you... or kill you? That's something men will never understand about women. Their courage. The way they are tested. It's unlike anything we have to deal with.

It takes huge courage to be a woman in a world with so many men, but so many women still believe in our goodness. There's the power in our species! We are drawn together even though there are so many reasons to be apart.

A long time ago, on MTV, I saw a profound little soundbite aimed at heartbroken people who have been wounded in love. The message went like this.

You may not think, right now, that you'll try again (take a breath) but you will.

I think that's the lesson of the human race. Renewal. Belief.

Trying again and again and again.

That's who we are.

Let's have fun!

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."