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Silicon Valley as second grade

Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named accordion.gifPosting a link to Shel Israel's piece here yesterday accelerated the discussion, of course. Most of the discussion that I've participated in has been on FriendFeed. I also talked for about 45 minutes last night with Mike Arrington. It was a surprisingly friendly conversation, I had forgotten how much I like and respect him. After sleeping on it, I've had a chance to distill my own thinking. Here's some of it. Permalink to this paragraph

First, when I became aware of how the videos were hurting Shel, I stopped watching. All I could think about is how mean this community had become. Most people had never heard of Shel before, he's not really a celebrity. That was until these people decided to make an example of him, and turned his name into a bad joke, which became more well known than the real person. Shel is far from rich, and this isn't just hurting him financially, it's breaking him, though he's too proud to say so.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now they've gone after me too, but it's not so easy to hurt me. I've been trashed plenty, and I think most people whose opinions I care about know that I am not what they say I am, which can be pretty awful stuff.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named california.gifAs Duncan Riley said, one of the few bloggers who has been willing to come to Shel's defense publicly: "If I was Shel, I wouldn't be coping at all, in fact I'd probably fall to complete pieces." True. It's enough to wither your spirit. Not the satire itself, but the people who say they're friends who don't offer support. That's what really hurts. That's one of the things I tried to convey to Mike last night. I offer the same to several other people I'd like to call friends again.  Permalink to this paragraph

When a friend is in trouble and asks for help, you don't turn your back. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that when a stranger is in trouble and asks for help you don't turn your back.  Permalink to this paragraph

Satire that's based on hurting people stops being funny to most people pretty quickly. People who support it really need to stop and think how they're contributing to other people's misery, and whether it's still fun after realizing that. I believe that most people are good at their core, and when they give it some thought, will help us turn this corner and get to the next level. We've sunk really really low. Time to pull ourselves out. Permalink to this paragraph

PS: If you think writing this was easy, think again.  Permalink to this paragraph

PPS: The First Amendment says you have the right to say (almost) whatever you want. But it doesn't say anyone has to listen. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, 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.

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