Who Reads DaveNet?
Sunday, August 22, 1999 by Dave Winer.
On 7/17/98 I sent an email to a bunch of DaveNet readers asking for their view of the column and the Scripting News website, and what role they play in their thinking.
I got back some very interesting emails, and posted them on a website, as a slide show, one every few days, and let a story play out from there.
Earlier today, I brought the comments back, as part of the DaveNet site, and here they are.
Thanks to Jakob Nielsen, Dan Gillmor, Craig Cline, Brent Schlender, Pam Edstrom, Bill Gates, Jim Gable, Rick LeFaivre, Jesse Berst, Douglas Adams, Kevin Fong, Andrew Anker, Dan Shafer, Adam Curry and John Perry Barlow for participating.
DaveNet and Scripting News are among the very few favorite bookmarks I check every single day. Reasons include:
Complete honesty and a finely tuned bullshit detector in Dave's analyses of current industry events, coupled with an emphasis on long-term trends than you rarely find in most other news coverage. Whenever I have knowledge or personal expertise on a topic covered by Dave, I usually find myself in 90% or higher agreement with his comments: this bodes well for trusting what he has to say about things I know nothing about.
The Scripting News homepage helps fight the Dark Side in the struggle for the soul of the Web. Many other sites try to entrap users inside their proprietary content and rarely link to the outside world: if this continues, the Web will stop being a web and turn into a set of disconnected medieval fortresses, each behind its own moat. Let's maintain linking and open flow of information, as practiced by Scripting News. I visit the site more often because of its outbound links: instead of struggling through the unfriendly navigation mazes at certain commercial news sites, I can rely on Dave pointing me to anything important they have to say.
The minimalist design is a joy to use (and not coincidentally, fully consistent with my own design principles): no wait for bloated downloads; full focus on delivering value to users.
I like DaveNet best when it infuriates me, when it forces me to reconsider my core beliefs.
DaveNet is only peripherally about technology, though Scripting News is a great Website to visit to keep up on some issues and trends.
Dave calls it absolutely as he sees it in his columns; he was passionately faithful to his own core beliefs when he talked about the death penalty, in some of the best columns he's done. Not enough people take these kinds of risks.
DaveNet is proof of the Net's power. In another era Dave would have written a newsletter with not a tenth of the reach, and not a hundredth of the impact.
DaveNet is that rare combination of insightful commentary on both the business and the life and times of those involved in the business. And this specifically extends to the author, Dave Winer, who for better or for worse regularly bares his soul and his mind, calling things as he sees it, sometimes pissing us off, many other times sending us over the moon.
Craig Cline, VP-Content Development
Here's the transcript of the Spring 1997 Seybold keynote that Cline moderated.
I read all of the DaveNet missives.
Some of them are a bit arcane for a business writer like me, but Dave Winer's observations on both the politics of the software industry and on the over-arching technology trends help me in my own thinking.
He's an articulate guy, and has helped me understand everything from the dynamics of setting Internet standards to the tangled corporate psyche of Microsoft.
Dave, first of all thank you for asking.
You are one of the first people to see the power and value in the Internet and to use it in a way that gets a ton of people involved. No one else is doing that today in such an interactive way.
What I like about DaveNet:
I always read what you say even when I don't agree.
Pam Edstrom, Executive Vice-President
Dave has a good grasp of the technical issues and challenges the industry faces. He's been around the industry long enough to qualify as an observer; at the same time he is still close to the things that really matter to developers. This is an important perspective that often gets lost in other discussion and commentary. This experience also gives him a perspective that is tempered by experience but not out of touch.
Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I disagree with him; sometimes he's defended Microsoft and sometimes he's taken us to task--but I always know his perspective will add to the industry dialogue on a given topic. He saw the power of communication using the Internet very early on and has been very effective in using that medium to have interactive discussions on a wide variety of both technical and human topics.
DaveNet pieces written by Bill Gates: Oct 94, Feb 96, Apr 97, Sep 97. A memo Gates wrote to Apple's John Sculley in 1985 outlining a plan to license the Macintosh OS. Selected DaveNet soundbites from 1997 re Microsoft.
I am a loyal fan of DaveNet and Frontier development, you have even successfully motivated me to try a Mac again (WallStreet G3 PowerBook).
I frequently find the articles referenced in DaveNet as very key to the growth of my personal industry knowledge base. DaveNet is always on the top of my daily reading pile :-)
Some constructive criticism: You seem to have some branding issues, between scripting.com and userland.com, as I often hear from people I refer to your sites who aren't familiar with you or the Valley that they don't understand what the site is all about Also I feel that your archives could be more intuitive.
I've always valued DaveNet as an informative and unique view on news in the software and Internet industries.
For example, DaveNet was one of the first places to both recognize the importance of XML and explain why it's useful.
During my years at Apple Computer, we used DaveNet as one of our many signposts about how we were doing -- which varied quite a bit!
I have been a DaveNet subscriber going back to my days as VP of Advanced Technology at Apple Computer. Back in those days, much of Dave's focus was on the trials and tribulations of Apple.
As many of us have "gotten a life" after Apple, it has been very interesting to see Dave's vision of the software industry broaden, as his business and technology focus has broadened. The rise of the Web, the (literal) trials and tribulations of Microsoft, the role of the Mac in a Windows-dominated world, the migration of Dave's software base to Windows, and the ever-broadening role of scripting technology, including new technologies such as XML -- all have been chronicled through the years in DaveNet.
It's insightful, it's quirky, it's a look inside of Dave Winer's fascinating head, it's ... DaveNet.
I'm a writer. That's the heart of my life. So...
I love words. Big words, small words, pompous words, made-up words, old-fashioned words, vernacular, idiom, formal, onomatopoeia, alliteration, but especially I love the right words. Just the right words to capture an idea.
I delight in the way Dave Winer uses words.
I love clear thinking. The purity of a logical chain. The "chink" when the final piece of the puzzle slides home and everything fits.
I admire the clarity of Dave's reasoning.
I love honesty and self-examination and disclosure. The bravery of being who you are, not who they want. The challenge of abandoning pretence.
I admire the courage of Dave's self-revelation.
I love innovation and experimentation. New ways of combining words. New ways of delivering those words. Fresh ideas on interaction and community and dialog. People who look for better ways to communicate.
I appreciate the value of Dave's pioneering contributions to my profession.
I love other writers when they inspire me, enthuse me, impress me, challenge me, teach me, provoke me, make me proud to be a writer, make me glad to be alive right now as our world builds a new medium.
And that's why I love DaveNet.
Dave is one of my favourite sources of information and opinion on the web.
His opinions are passionately held, well-informed, intelligent, argumentative and quite often wrong.
But... which ones?
DaveNet is raw, not afraid to be controversial. If people can't take criticism too bad, or they should respond with their POV or correct any mistakes. I've always noticed that you've either responded directly or given people the ability to respond. If you made a comment, it's never seemed personal.
I like the idea of an exclusive audience. This may be a little controversial. It seems that when columns or people get more widely known, they become less controversial or less outspoken. I hope that doesn't happen here. I like ideas/people that are "out on the edge", it keeps everybody on their toes.
I use DaveNet to keep in touch with the latest trends, e.g. XML-RPC. I value that connection. I like that it's timely and topical and that you're willing to make comments on controversial events and news.
I thought you were particularly accurate with your view of Apple's problems. As a (former) Mac lover I found the story interesting with an inside spin to it. At some point Apple became irrelevant, I'm glad you've moved away from commenting about the latest gossip about Apple.
Kevin Fong, General Partner
All good media has a point of view. This concept informed everything we tried to do at HotWired, Wired News, Suck and of course, Wired magazine.
I enjoy reading DaveNet not only because it has such a strong point of view (Dave's, of course), but also because it represents a very different point of view than I can get elsewhere.
Dave's an operator, a builder, a programmer. That infuses everything he writes and sets DaveNet quite apart from the rest of mainstream press.
I don't always agree with Dave... and that's exactly the point.
Anker ran the online media operations at Wired in the early days of the web, my former employer. Now he's a venture capitalist with investments in such companies as Be, Cygnus, Digicash and Tumbleweed.
Dave Winer and scripting.com are a regular part of my Web and Internet diet.
There aren't many people speaking out on the important issues -- technical, social, political, and personal -- surrounding the Web who have actually been there and done that.
DaveNet and the scripting.com site are constant sources of information, inspiration, and the good kind of frustration that comes from encountering ideas.
I don't always agree with Dave but he makes awesome software, his thoughts are generally well considered and he admits it when he's wrong.
Shafer is editorial director of CNET's Builder.com.
As some dead white guy once said, "The medium is the message."
This guy had something else in mind, I suspect, since the very possiblity of such a thing as DaveNet arose long after he descended. Nevertheless, his phrase applies here.
The reason it applies is that despite of Dave's feigned curmudgeonliness - or perhaps because of it - he is a smart man with a big heart (already a rarity) who is fearless and free enough to tell the "truth" as he sees it. He also has no economic incentive to do otherwise. (Unlike practically everyone else I know these days, with my own possible exception.)
This is not to say that what he spouts is gospel. We're far from there being A Gospel at the moment. But he says what he passionately believes and cares not a rat's-ass for the consequences of his daily dicta.
Thus, his pronouncements on the nuts and bits on The Great Work are conveyed by a medium of embarrassingly naked veracity. His method is his medium. His medium lends at least enough credibility to his message that I read it carefully and appreciate it, even when he's manifestly full of shit.
DaveNet is quintessentially Net.