Seven Years of DaveNet
Sunday, October 7, 2001 by Dave Winer.
And welcome to the eighth year of DaveNet.
On this day in 1994 I wrote an essay and distributed it via email to a few hundred people in the software industry. It was a humble first step, the beginning of an exploration that would take us through all kinds of ups and downs.
In the beginning this column was my channel for epiphany. Look ma, no hands. I'm doing this all myself. After all this time that's still what's going on. It's a person's journal, nothing more, nothing less.
Simply, journalism is a person writing a journal.
We've added so much baggage to the concept of journalism. If you watch TV, as I do, you can see it clearly in the transition of the coverage of Sept 11. It's gone from a fresh wound, startling and attention-getting, to a story that drags on but fails to inform or inspire.
The TV networks want reassurance for the viewers. Bedtime stories. Everything's going to be OK. Go back to sleep dear citizens of the world, we're taking care of it. This masks a chaos that we can see if we really look. Do they really know what they're doing? Hmm.
Aggregated story-telling. One size fits all. Everyone gets the same information.
If you want to extract meaning from the events of Sept 11, look no further than our lives. We yearn to go back to sleep, but know at a deeper level, that we will not sleep so well in the coming months and years.
As my mind wraps around the new realism, I support the US, but not the way we've been living. I read the US Constitution, and feel love and admiration. I look at what we've become and feel this is not a life worth living. I'll fight for the former, and I'll fight against the latter.
Tamim Ansary said of the people of Afghanistan: "They're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering,"
I wondered why this resonated with my western mind and body, and finally figured it out. In the west we're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated and suffering too.
We've grown our systems: freeways, suburbs, airports, skyscrapers, the Internet. Our accomplishments are legendary. But along the way we exhausted our spirit. We forgot people. Our common values are impossible. The templates for our fantastic lives are not achievable, and if they were, are not worth living. A full life does not revolve around material gratification. Friendship isn't as they portray it on TV. Life is messier, more confused, and happier than the vacant promise of TV lives.
"The best things in life are free," wrote three songwriters in 1927.
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste," said a TV advertisement.
At Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Seven years into DaveNet, I still believe that our best hope is ourselves. Working together is the answer. Welcome other points of view. Find someone different to create with. Cross all the bridges.