Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why I read Dave Winer's posts

In a little while, I'll have finished writing a post which refers to the issue of *not* knowing why people read your work making it that much harder to continue satisfying them. Maybe that's a good thing, in the sense that by *not* playing to the audience, you remain true to yourself; maybe it's a bad thing, because you run the risk of losing your audience and thus lose the chance to put your thoughts in front of those who may benefit most from them. I don't have an answer to that conundrum; I suspect there *is* no single right answer. Either way, I've just read two posts that appeared in quick succession on Dave Winer's "Scripting News" blog that confirm why I read his writing; which is that here is a guy who tells it from the heart, as he sees it, and truly doesn't give a f*** if others have a hard time with that aspect of himself. Which is a trait I admire, and also try to live by.

Anyway, the first post shows someone *not* leaping on an inevitable topical bandwagon:
Listening to the endless radio "coverage" of the Pope's death, it's remarkable how unbalanced it is. They have priests, saying we all know deep inside the Pope was right about everything. Hello. Earth to Catholics. The Pope was a good PR guy, but come on, he was against birth control. The Catholics actually burned condoms in AIDS-plagued Africa. Now would be a great opportunity for some of the real reporting the pros are so famous for. Instead they're running an endless infomercial for the Catholic Church. Hey the Catholics are the church of sin and hell, fire and brimstone. If ever there were an opportunity to be balanced this is it. No more footsie? Heh, yeah sure.

[Via Scripting News]

Now, I could take personal exception to the attitudes expressed by the Pope (and many in organised religions) about people like myself; but hey, they're just as entitled to their opinions as I am. The example Dave cites, though, gives a telling and concrete instance where one group's dogma needlessly costs lives. No matter how admirable the Pope's qualities as a person, it doesn't compensate for lives unnecessarily lost. In my opinion.

In the other post, he reinforces another long-held opinion of mine, i.e. that a good measure of a person's contribution to a debate is less about the friends he keeps, and more about the enemies he makes:

Scoble is a man of respect. "My co-author Shel Israel gave me heck for being too nice to my fellow bloggers." Right on. Too much footsie in the blogosphere. Enough. Just the facts please. Enough telling me about your friends. Make some new enemies for a change.

[Via Scripting News]

I think the public difference of opinions between himself and Adam Curry over the future of podcasting, or his issues with the EFF and Cory Doctorow on the issues of copyright raised by pervasive linking technologies such as Google's also attests to his willingness to stand up for what he believes in. Bottom line; while I may not always agree with what he *says*, I know that what he says is what he believes. Really, I don't ask for more than that from a commentator.

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  • At 4:47 pm, Blogger Brian said…

    Sean Hannity also appears to believe everything he says. So does David Duke. So does Ward Churchill and Pat Buchanan. I'd hope you'd have higher standards than just "this guy actually believes the crap coming out of his mouth/keyboard."

    I mean, I have no doubt Winer really believes that 9/11 was a gift. I have no doubt Winer really believe Terri Schiavo was brain dead.

    But simply believing something is not enough.

  • At 4:58 pm, Blogger Koan said…

    No, believing something is not enough. It is up to *me* to decide what I believe; but to make an informed decision on that, I need to synthesise information from a range of sources. To assess the quality of a source, I need to factor in (amongst others) the personal bias, *any* personal bias, that the source has.

    I've read Dave Winer's posts long enough to form a view of any bias he has. One bias he *doesn't* have, in my opinion, is the need to suck up to others. Or the need to massage his ego in a popularity contest. Unlike, I beg to suggest, some of the other personages you mention.

    *I* have personal biases; when I'm aware of them, I'm not afraid to refer to them. So I'd hope that anyone who reads what I write will bear my biases in mind when deciding how much credence to pay to anything I write.

  • At 3:30 am, Blogger betterbadnews said…

    ...he doesn't have...the need to massage his ego in a popularity contest. Unlike, I beg to suggest, some of the other personages you mention.

    Do you include Ward Churcill when you say, ...people who, need to massage his ego... as one of those
    "other personages" ?

  • At 5:10 am, Blogger Koan said…

    Hmmm... I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment on Ward Churchill (as far as I can recall, and that may not be very far, the controversy surrounding Churchill hasn't made it to the UK media in anything more than a very peripheral capacity; try searching for articles about him on the BBC site for example, I find just one, and that's in Russian). He's got a particular line to sell; do I agree with him? No. Do I agree he should be feeling the heat for what he said? Yes. Do I think he has a right to say it? I think the US Constitution confers that right upon him, doesn't it? Do I think he's "massaging his ego"? Truthfully, I don't know, I haven't seen enough on this side of the pond to form an opinion. And *because* I don't know, one way or the other, I'll factor that in to deciding what credibility I'd give to any data issuing from that source.

  • At 6:59 am, Blogger Koan said…

    In response to private email, I'll be as explicit as I feel I've any need to be; the personages I was referring to, specifically, were the other three. Sean Hannity - anyone who proclaims himself on his own home-page as "a multi-media superstar" strikes me as someone with a penchant for ego massage. David Duke - do I *really* have to say any more? Pat Buchanan - as far as I'm concerned, *anyone* who'd seek the presidency of the US (however unlikely their chance of gaining it) must be *such* a wallflower. ;-)

    This is quite apart from the politics of the individuals concerned. With which, as a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, I have *nothing* in common. And apart from the fact that at least two of those personages would probably want to see me burn (either in hell, or on a bonfire, or probably both) for the "moral decay" that someone like me undoubtedly represents. Whatever.

    A source with different political, religious or social views to myself is still a potentially valuable source (if for no other purpose than "know your enemy"). A source of *any* flavour that is driven by the need to feel fame for its own sake; well, that might be of use to some people, but not to me.


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