I mean, it’s amazing to me that a man can still be so embittered by the fact that someone didn’t give him enough credit in her essay on the history of weblogs. Or, I should say, it would be amazing to me if that man weren’t Dave Winer, and it wasn’t in-your-face obvious that his definition of “respect for the story” is “willingness to make specific mention of Dave Winer and UserLand.”

If you’re looking for what is, in my opinion, a fair review of Rebecca’s book, try here.


“I don’t really understand books about blogs.” — Dave Winer, Userland

• Posted by: Dan S. on Jul 14, 2002, 3:38 PM

Anybody wanna bet that what really set him off was Rebecca’s suggestion that going back and changing your entries was wrong?

• Posted by: Brennan on Jul 14, 2002, 8:12 PM

You know what? Dave should get more credit than he gets. Scripting News was (and still is) very influential in the weblog world. I’m pretty sure the ability to publish a weblog with Frontier existed in some form before Pitas or Blogger (I can’t find proof, feel free to correct me). He got a lot of people interested in doing it (including Cam, as he clearly states in this essay). As much as Dave drives me nuts, he deserves consideration as the Johnny Appleseed (if not the Gutenburg) of weblogs.

And what about Slashdot? And online diaries? No kinship there? The way I see it, it’s a big Web and in the grand scheme of things, Jesse sending an email to Cam has so very little to do with weblogs, certainly less than Dave Winer, online diaries, and Slashdot.

(And Anil’s review is fair? I don’t have the outside view on this one (because I’m friends with both Anil and Rebecca), but the fact that Anil and Rebecca are friends casts doubt on the fairness of the review, disclaimer or no).

• Posted by: Jason Kottke on Jul 15, 2002, 2:27 PM

I dunno which weblog-editing service was first — the Wayback Machine has a Blogger home page from 10/12/1999 and Pitas home page from 11/28/99, which is strangely but a day before the official launch of Manila — but I don’t know if that’s the point. For me, the point is that it’s hard to take seriously the “review” of a book by someone who is clearly upset about his own absence in that book and/or in the works by the author which led up to the book. I do like the Johnny Appleseed analogy — he didn’t invent the weblog, he just trumpeted it.

As for Anil’s review, I specifically qualified it as “what is, in my opinion, a fair review…” because I anticipated people objecting based on them being friends. But there’s a logical fallacy at work — friendship does not equate with bias, only a higher potential for bias. And after reading Anil’s review, I think that it’s fair. (Honestly, I haven’t found many other reviews of the book on the web, or I’d be pointing people there! Anil just was one of the first.)

And lastly, one of the reasons that I take something away from Dave’s credit for weblogging is because he and his company are constantly moving on to their Next Big Thing, and as such, may detract from weblogs as much as they attract to them. As I’ve said time and time again, Manila does do a fine job of producing weblogs, but it also is reeking with bugs, stagnating while Radio is getting feature after new feature, and (in my experience) causing people who committed to the product to lose interest.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 15, 2002, 8:44 PM

Thanks Jason (Kottke).

Also, to answer Jason Levine’s question, our first weblog tool was released in January 1997, it was called the News Page suite, and I think it’s what Jorn uses for his blog. I used it too, but now I use Manila and Radio. I looked it up for one of the other weblog book authors, as far as I know Rebecca never was interested.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 15, 2002, 9:20 PM

the fact that Anil and Rebecca are friends casts doubt on the fairness of the review, disclaimer or no

I don’t doubt (or apologize for) the fact that I’m biased towards my friends’ efforts. But I specifically mentioned in my review that I thought RCB was remiss in omitting (amongst others) more mention of tools like Radio/Manila.

My problem is that Dave says he disagrees without saying *what* he disagrees with. That’s less than helpful, and it’s the reason that I think he’s being disingenuous and playing off his sour grapes as if it’s some sort of logical or principled disagreement.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 15, 2002, 10:06 PM

Sweet mercy. Who cares who “invented” the weblog? They’re here, they’re useful and we all love them as a resource, as entertainment, and as a hobby. But much like porn on the internet or mashed potatoes, it’s not very important who did it first. It was an idea that was bound to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, and I love the community, but claiming firsties is bordering on ludicrous. It’s a great idea, and many people thought of it around the same time.

Just remember, time doesn’t remember who was first, but who did it best.

I suppose, Dave, if you really want to be recognized as first, you could just wear a dress to public events for the next 30 or so years and people will have to recognize you as the father of the weblog. Just ask Uncle Miltie.

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 16, 2002, 10:09 AM

Joshua, thanks for the advice about the dress. I think I’ll pass on that. Have a great day, week, month, etc. BTW, it was Jason Levine who’s expressed a lot of bitterness about UserLand over the last few months. It’s so funny when he projects his attitude on me. I didn’t say any of the things he’s taking me to task on. I didn’t like Rebecca’s book. I thought that was the idea of doing reviews, that you would say what you think about the thing you’re reviewing. There’s too much bitch slapping in this little “community” — Anil says he’s Rebecca’s friend, and Jason says that’s a fair review. I suppose he doctors that way. Gets his friends to offer a second opinion?? Hehe. If he does that a lot of his patients will die, does that matter? Maybe it does to the patients. Whatever. Take care.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 16, 2002, 10:28 AM

It’s funny how you ignore my explanation for why I think that the review’s fair, Dave — I read the interview, agreed with its conclusions, and think that it was correct, thus, I feel it’s fair. You, too, are falling into the logical fallacy which equates friendship with bias, when there’s no way that you can claim that to be an absolute. (Hell, you provide a ton of examples of this, whenever you laud something that Doc Searls or Brent Simmons or Jake Savin has done! Just because you are friends with them doesn’t mean that you can’t be fair.)

As for your own little form of projection, I actually *like* your example of how I practice medicine. Of course I recommend people who I’m friendly with to anyone who asks me for a second opinion — because I wouldn’t think of referring people to doctors who are less than stellar at what they do, and I can’t imagine I’d maintain a friendship with a doctor whose practice of medicine I don’t respect. The fact that I’m friendly with them does not take anything away from their practice of medicine, and I’m proud to say that it enhances my own ability to continue to improve as a doctor by learning from their opinions.

And lastly, if you want me to start airing my UserLand dirty laundry in more specific manners than just generally calling attention to the things that I’ve found deficient — like perhaps publishing John Robb’s email to us at Sports Illustrated acknowledging your company’s inability to meet its support promises, or the two email threads from former employees of UserLand — then keep pushing.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 16, 2002, 11:49 AM

You’ve been very open in your criticism of UserLand. You’ve also been really sloppy in your criticism of me personally, right on the home page of your weblog for everyone to see. You can keep going if you want, I think you’re trashing your own rep now, not mine. People have figured out what you’re doing, I think. Take care.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 16, 2002, 1:30 PM

Hey one more question — if your friend disagrees with you (the doctor example) would you tear him a new asshole on the home page of your weblog? Is there any room for disagreement with Jason Levine that doesn’t result in condemnation? See why I don’t like talking with you? You’re so arrogant and always right, there’s no room to disagree with you. Yuck!!

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 16, 2002, 1:35 PM

Is that the real Dave Winer or a parody? It’s so hard to tell most of the time, because he always engages in the exact same behaviors he accuses everyone else of.

• Posted by: Brennan on Jul 16, 2002, 5:45 PM

New site!: Am I Dave Winer or Not?

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 17, 2002, 9:50 AM

Alternately: Am I the founder of weblogging or not?

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 17, 2002, 9:51 AM

It seems to me that the only acceptable resolution to this is for JL and DW to get into a chained arena and settle this over a pay-per-view broadcast. Because it’s clear that Winer won’t listen to anything other than the braying sound of his own voice.

If you didn’t like the book, Dave, then why didn’t you state specifics? You pissed on Rebecca without foundation or without any sort of satricial undertone. And now you have the nerve to come to Jason’s site and be sanctimonious about it? I’m amazed that you can’t put two and two together and realize why people are so hostile about this.

• Posted by: Ed on Jul 17, 2002, 11:14 AM

What a hoot. Dave, as usual, is expecting folks to ignore his past consistently abusive behavior. What a tremendous lack of integrity on Winer’s part.

But as anyone that follows weblogs already knows, this is how Winer always behaves; it’s classic passive-aggressive behavior.

We’ve been following his antics for years.

Here’s the real low-down. Winer is regularly ignored, slighted or left out of many of the weblog histories becaused he’s behaved abusively. The various authors have all suffered at the hands of Dave. As a result those authors have chosen to follow the old rule “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Rather than try to tell the real story, with all it’s sad and sordid details, they just route around the damage by leaving him out entirely.

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 17, 2002, 7:20 PM

You’re a coward Zaphod, and wrong. The other book authors aren’t doing what you’re saying they’re doing.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 17, 2002, 7:54 PM

I came late to the blogging party (started reading around mid-2001, first post in Feb 2002) so I may not have the I-was-a-blogger-before-it-was-cool cred, but here’s my opinion: ignoring Radio and it’s forebears when discussing mainstream blogging is just plain silly. I don’t presume insight into the reasons why it was given short shrift, but the fact of the matter is that lots of people only started blogging because Radio provided such an wonderfully easy on-ramp. Omitting discussion of the mainstream tools is doing the readers of the book a big disservice, and I can only hope that the rationale is based on space or time limitations & not personality conflicts.

As for Dave’s personality? Get over it. He’s opinionated, but that is also why he’s interesting. You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you have to respect the fact that he’s passionate & articulate about the things he believes in and has contributed greatly to the mainstreaming of the blogging community. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen - responding to a critical review with personal attacks & an open threat is unconscionable, and people that hide behind pseudonyms and contribute to longstanding personal attacks aren’t worth the air they’re consuming.

• Posted by: Peter Drayton on Jul 17, 2002, 11:28 PM

Peter, a few things:

First, I personally think that it’s hard to say that anyone has to respect Dave — what I’m reading here is that there are legitimate feelings held by people that the amount of harm he’s done outweighs any good. It’s easy to just say that people “can’t stand the heat”; it’s meaningless, though, when it’s coupled with ignoring their reasoned observations.

And while I’m glad that you find Dave interesting, I think that by reading the thread carefully, you’ll see that the so-called open threat is a direct response to the claim that I inflate my criticism of Dave & UserLand beyond what actually takes place. (Well, that and his comment essentially wishing harm on my pediatric patients, but, well, that’s Dave for you.) I’ve always publicly told people that, if they’re interested in learning how UserLand does business, I’d be happy to share the data points that I’ve collected. I’m not threatening UserLand; rather, their past behavior serves as its own threat to their future business (an autoantibody, in medical-speak).

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 18, 2002, 12:13 AM

Jason, this is ridiculous. I don’t wish any harm to your pediatric patients. I was just a patient myself (still am actually). I am appealing to your inner doctor, get rational, snap out of it. You’re not making any sense. Here’s how this thread started. I didn’t like Rebecca’s story about weblogs. I was asked to review it. So I did. It’s over now Jason. It has nothing to do with your complaints about my company. Your patients have nothing to do with that either. We let you down, not because we don’t like you, or because we wouldn’t like to help you, but because we couldn’t.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 18, 2002, 1:44 AM

While that sounds good Dave, it’s not the truth. Your manipulative speech continues in claiming that Jason’s not being rational and talking nonsense. This after making the incredibly insulting claim that Jason’s doctoring is somehow slanted to favor friendships instead of patient health? That’s an unspeakably vile sort of insinuation to make.

But it’s typical of Dave Winer’s abuse of people. All these little attacks on what they considers their integrity are quite carelessly tossed about by Dave. Should any one of those individuals, however, make the same claims and back them up with facts Dave claims outrage.

It’s plainly a grave sickness when the developer of a product feels the need to so personally attack a customer.

As for pseudonyms, try telling the truth about Winer and see how long it takes before Dave wages a personal campaign against you. There wouldn’t be a winerlog if not for Dave’s abusiveness. So know instead of being able to make his dastardly claims against the individuals, Dave has to deal simply with content of what the zaphodim post. As usual, he’s unable to address those points.

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 18, 2002, 5:59 AM

Zaphod I wish I knew who you were so I could send you flowers and best wishes for a happy life. Take care.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 18, 2002, 11:15 AM

Dave does deserve credit for being a weblog pioneer but his actions and attacks on people are inexcusable. Most people have chosen to ignore him despite his regular and continued attacks on his peers. The problem with Dave is that the “ignore him and he will go away” method simply does not work. Dave loves attention, no matter if it is positive or negative.

So yeah, Dave deserves credit and respect for being a pioneer of weblogs but that’s about it. I and others have lost all respect for him in every other regard.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 18, 2002, 1:14 PM

Credit? Perhaps. Respect? No.

What’s the use in having credit as a pioneer if you actively work contrary to the interest of the field?

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 18, 2002, 1:23 PM

Cam, I think you speak for yourself, you have a grudge against me, that’s your right, and hopefully you can get over that someday. But you can’t speak for “most people.” Best wishes for a happy existence, Cam. Take care.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 18, 2002, 1:34 PM

Yeah Dave, that’s it, the whole world has a grudge against you. So now it’s paranoid tendencies added to the diagnosis?

As for flowers, keep ‘em. Another one of your strangely inappropriate gestures. Much like how your abusive messages often end in “Have a nice day”. Well, it’s nothing we’ve not seen before, but there’s always a brand new audience (and search engines) learning of your trickery.

Here’s a thought Dave, shut that mouth before it traps your own foot… again!

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 18, 2002, 2:01 PM

Thanks for driving my point home Dave. The evidence speaks for itself.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 18, 2002, 2:26 PM

To be clear, I don’t know Dave and I certainly don’t have a grudge against anyone I don’t know. My whole question was that Dave said he didn’t like the book and I wanted to know why, and I still haven’t read anything that explains that.

As for the rest, I think that it’s odd that an inarguable pioneer in the world of weblogs is so content to distance people who could be advocates for his products. I haven’t seen Ev or Meg or Mena or Ben or any other people who are or were in comparable positions to Dave be willing to offend so many people. Yet they all still seem to be able to state opinions, even controversial ones, without deliberately offending anyone.

Considering the value of personal relationships in encouraging people to evangelize a communication tool, it seems foolish to antagonize the people in the community. Dan Bricklin is someone who’s been in the software community as long as Dave, is involved in many of the same realms, and yet is almost universally respected, even revered. I think that the methods a lot of people use to criticize Dave are unfair, but the fact that they’re so antagonized that they’re willing to voice tehir objections is remarkable.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 18, 2002, 2:47 PM

“I think that the methods a lot of people use to criticize Dave are unfair”

Stick with that Anil. I’m a lot more accessible than Dan Bricklin or Ev or the others you mention. I actually participate in discussions with people who have problems at the personality level, like Cam, or the ubiquitous and anonymous Zaphod. So what. It means absolutetly nothing. This thread has a bunch of people who say they don’t like me. As they say in NY, feh. That and 50 cents used to get you on the subway. Take care.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 18, 2002, 7:10 PM

Uhhh Zaphod, I said Cam has a grudge against me, not the whole world. Do you even know how to read? Geez Louise.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 18, 2002, 7:19 PM

For the record, I don’t dislike you, but god damn, you are pretty abrasive sometimes.

I suppose it’s an element of popularity. Or notoriety, rather. ;)

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 18, 2002, 9:43 PM

“I’m a lot more accessible than Dan Bricklin or Ev or the others you mention. I actually participate in discussions with people who have problems at the personality level, like Cam, or the ubiquitous and anonymous Zaphod.”

I’m not sure what this statement is based on, but as a part-time blogger for several years I can state that the Trotts (those other people) are incredibly responsive. I also recall Ev babysitting many folks through the early days of Blogger and Pyra.

As far as Zaphod goes, either your not as smart as I thought you were or your being intentionally obtuse. The mailto: here (http://winerlog.inspiredsites.net/discuss/msgReader$75) should be a big fat honking hint.

• Posted by: Al S. on Jul 18, 2002, 11:02 PM

In my personal experience, conflicts like the ones going on in this discussion cause people to give Dave Winer less credit than he would get otherwise. Before I used any of his software, and I knew his work only a reader of Scripting News, I thought he was being grandiose about his own accomplishments.

However, at this point I think he did more in 1997-98 to demonstrate and popularize weblogging than anyone else, and the history of the medium should reflect that.

The invention of the weblog is always going to be subject to argument; some people think that the NCSA Mosaic What’s New page, which began in 1993, was the first. In my personal experience, Michael Sippey’s Filtered for Purity was the site that demonstrated the concept as a distinct web publishing form.

When Rebecca Blood’s history of weblogs begins in 1998 and you compare that to what Winer was doing in April 1997 (and probably earlier), you can see that she didn’t give him enough credit. Winer doesn’t enter her story until the launch of EditThisPage. As this NewsPage link from Dave shows, he had enough vision in 1997 to recognize that weblogs were a distinct form of web publishing that required its own tools.

If Blood’s new book tells the same history, I can see why Winer claims she has a “lack of respect for the story.” Should he let someone else make the point? Possibly, but would he have been so influential in the history of weblogging (and several other areas) if he wasn’t a lightning rod?

• Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead on Jul 19, 2002, 4:43 AM

Rogers, a few points.

1. In the history of weblogs that I wrote, after Jorn wrote his and Rebecca wrote hers, I not only credit NCSA, but I also credit TBL. I believe his first website was a weblog. That’s how fundamental the format is. Reverse-chronologic links with comments is one of the most fundamental formats on the Web, if not the most fundamental. Any history of weblogs that omits this is missing the point.

2. My first weblog was the news page for the 24 Hours of Democracy project in Feb 96. I remember very clearly thinking “this is really nice.”

3. The browser-based editing stuff that led to Manila *and* Blogger were openly published on Scripting News in early 1999. Evan and Meg were reading SN. The professional journalists gave the invention to Pyra, but this was unfair. It really stings that the people running weblogs not only perpetuated the myth, but probably created it and fed it to the pros. Evan says he didn’t and I believe him. He’s always been very fair, but others (like Cam for example) have told the wrong story deliberately. I believe Rebecca knew too. Of course I called them on it. The fact that I had to do it alone says something about the community. Now with Rogers’s post and Jason Kottke’s, I see something has changed. I’m very very happy to see this. I like the iPod you guys gave me, but if I had a choice, I’d take support any day. It makes it easier to innovate in the future. That’s something I’m giving a lot of thought now that I’m on sabbatical, do I want to go back in the fray? It’s really not a very nice way to work from my pov. It will make a difference if I have to fight at this level for basic respect for the contribution I make.

I’m sure there are other things to say. This edit box is very small. But thanks Rogers for helping out here. It means a lot to me.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 10:07 AM

This is nothing more than a beat up Dave Winer groupie session in a dark corner of the hackneyed cliché ridden world of ‘blogging’, whatever that is. You may hate Dave Winer for all sorts of insidious reasons, but that has nothing to do with the history of ‘weblogs’. The real issue is the quality of the content published, fancy tool or plain html. Dave Winer’s site has consistently provided better content than most of the sites linked here, however cantankerous he is in the process. History itself will judge the relevance of ‘blogging’ not a self-serving book – any book – about a small piece of its auto defined history which will self-evidently contradict the immediate purpose of doing one in the first place. If you need to buy a book to learn about blogging, just don’t bother filling up bandwidth with ever more useless crap. If the genre is even deemed historically relevant, Winer’s will ultimately prove of more value than most, especially the first few years of it, and possibly more to come. Think about what you write and contrive doubt in your mind about the relevance of your words if you want to make truly meaningful contributions. Dave Winer has, consistently, IMO; q.queso and its chums, Cam et al, have not.

Molly McDonald

• Posted by: Molly McDonald on Jul 19, 2002, 10:17 AM

I said this in email yesterday, because I could not post, but leaving the contentious history of the RSS format, and not forgetting Dave’s scriptingNews2 format that came before, there has been no more consistent supporter of syndication and aggregation as a part of the blogging process than dave and his products.

Blogger(outside of 3rd party stuff) still does not support RSS, and MT and othershave just begun to add them as blogging gains critical mass. There is still no
other blogging-aggregating-syndicating combo in the market other than Radio that I know of.

So lets give credit here. We may not all agree thaat Dave did t
he first weblogs, but lets state the history factually and as completely as we can, and let posterity be the judge.

• Posted by: Rahul Dave on Jul 19, 2002, 10:33 AM

Speaking of credit where credit is due —

The first Wiki went up in 1995. Wiki is clear prior art for Edit this Page and browser-based editing, although Dave rarely if ever mentions the Wiki folks.

Does Dave deserve credit for helping weblogs along? Most certainly. But he also ought to acknowledge his predecessors.

• Posted by: Bryant Durrell on Jul 19, 2002, 11:29 AM

Bryant, Wikis and Weblogs have some things in common, but near as I can tell are quite different beasts. Let’s not get them confused. This thread is about weblogs. Browser-based editing is an important part of weblogs, but not necessary. It’s totally possible to do a weblog without browser-based editing. (I do it that way, to this day.)

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 11:45 AM

Oh, I agree. It’s a nifty concept that has applications all over the place. I wouldn’t have brought it up, except that you said “The browser-based editing stuff that led to Manila *and* Blogger were openly published on Scripting News in early 1999.”

• Posted by: Bryant Durrell on Jul 19, 2002, 11:55 AM

Bryant, maybe when the dust settles, someone, who wasn’t a participant, will go back and examine all the branches and see how the ideas came together and come to some conclusions. I met Ward Cunningham in 2001, and shook his hand and thanked him for his work with Wiki’s. It’s another world from the one I work in. I don’t think he knew much about weblogs. The goal should be to be inclusive, because that’s the common thread of all these tools, they make it easy to include others (this is the web, and a key feature of the web is linking). But humans aren’t as perfect as the tools.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 12:06 PM

I just wanted to add something really simple.

You can count the great teachers you had at school on your fingers. Dave Winer teaches A LOT, I’ve learnt a lot from Scripting News. And I still do.

Dave, please don’t lose your time with them. We learn a lot with you. A big thank you.

I see in them jealousy about your efficiency and productivity and creativity.

Best wishes.

• Posted by: Someone Somewhere on Jul 19, 2002, 12:16 PM

You may not like the man, but turning a blind to his accomplishments only makes you look petty. Dave can be abrasive. Like others here, he’s gotten angry at me in email and in public before, but you know what? I got over it. It’s just words. And he usually had a point.

Who was it that said that progress is only made by unreasonable people? It seems obvious to me that the same drive that can take an idea and then execute it completely is going to rub some people the wrong way.

He deserves credit. He saw the trend, and he created some excellent and powerful tools. It’s easy to sit back and take pot shots at someone, it’s harder making yourself a target by actually trying to get something done.

The Zaphodim seem to just sit back and take the easy shots, making fun of mannerisms like someone in grade school. They have a right to do what they do, but let’s face it. Are they really adding anything to the conversation? Are they creating any light along with all of that heat?

The man has done a lot for weblogging. More than most. He should get credit.

• Posted by: David Brown on Jul 19, 2002, 12:17 PM

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools

• Posted by: Someone Somewhere on Jul 19, 2002, 12:28 PM

To David Brown, to be clear, you’ve said some things to me at times that were pretty abrasive. When that happens, here’s what I do. I look at the feeling and try to figure out where it came from. Almost always it didn’t come from the person who said whatever it was that triggered the hurt. If you read this thread that way, you’ll see that Zaphod and Cam only take offense after they change what I said, flip it around 180 degrees. So, is anyone responsible for that? And who is Zaphod anyway? What a coward. The guy won’t even say what his name is so we can laugh at his fat butt and contradictory life. That’s a coward.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 1:24 PM

It’s funny that on Scripting News, Dave says “There’s been a bunch of the usual mindless stuff, as if this environment were sixth grade, or maybe kindergarten.” Then he comes over here and says “..so we can laugh at his fat butt and contradictory life.

I guess he proved his point.

• Posted by: Tank Abbot on Jul 19, 2002, 1:52 PM

Dave, you admit to not knowing who Zaphod is, yet you allege he (how do you know the person is male?) is fat. Is that integrity? In the case of your obesity, there is no doubt.

• Posted by: Jack Adams on Jul 19, 2002, 2:00 PM

Tank, if that’s your real name — adults laugh at themselves. Children laugh at other children. If Zaphod, whether he is Cameron Barrett or Preston Holmes or Bill Kearney, or whoever, would tell us who he is, we could relax a bit. I don’t think I proved your point. I bet Zaphod has a big butt (that’s what he likes to say about my butt). That’s fine. I like people who have flaws and don’t mind telling us about them. But people who make up bullshit about other people’s flaws and don’t say who they are, are just plain cowards. I’d like to know who he is. Maybe I should offer a reward.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 2:00 PM

Well David, there’s gratitude for you. Making a clear statement about accomplishment only gets Dave to attack you, subtly perhaps, in return.

There’s no flipping around going on here, Dave. That comment about the source of the hurt being misread is just plain wrong. You’re the source of the hurtful commentary, time and again. The zaphodim just shine the light on it.

Once again we see your endless craving to identify the critics so you can attack them. Why not address the points made instead of attacking the people making them? Or is your ego so weak as to only gain strength from abusing the critics? Attacking them instead of their ideas.

As for jealousy, what Dave does is drive away the other contributors. The audience is then left with the often mistaken impression that Dave’s the one leading them.

What’s that saying? Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 19, 2002, 2:04 PM

Hey Zaphod, you’re a friggin coward. We may not know much more about you, but at least we know that. Before you throw stones at me, let’s find out what your flaws are. Until you put a real name on your posts, they mean absolutely nothing.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 2:06 PM

Jack, you’re right, I made an assumption. Maybe Zaphod will at least enlighten us as to its gender.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 2:07 PM

But Dave, I *still* don’t know what you disliked about Rebecca’s advice! I know you disagree with the history portion, but what about the recommendations for webloggers who are just starting out?

Blogger(outside of 3rd party stuff) still does not support RSS, and MT and othershave just begun to add them as blogging gains critical mass.

I was generating RSS .91 in Blogger Pro a year and a half ago. MT’s supported it since a very early version, as well. Their audiences have significantly less demand for that feature; There’s no need to syndicate “I hate my teacher/So-and-so is cute” posts.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 19, 2002, 2:15 PM

Funny, Zaphod, I didn’t feel like he attacked me. He was just acknowledging the episodes I mentioned.

Why do people go out of their way to interpret things as attacks? It’s almost as if they think that the words that we write are the sum total of who we are, and that we are accurately representing ourselves. I don’t know about you, but who I am and what I am about is really represented by what I post. So why jump to conclusions?

The really odd part was that most people that knew me in college called me Zaphod, or Zap for short. Seeing what another Zaphod is producing on the web now is just embarrassing. I hope people aren’t surfing the web and assuming that I’m playing a part in the whole Winerlog thing.

• Posted by: David Brown on Jul 19, 2002, 2:31 PM

Okay, typo — “but who I am and what I am about is really represented by what I post” should be “but who I am and what I am about is not really represented by what I post”

I need a better proofreader.

• Posted by: David Brown on Jul 19, 2002, 2:33 PM

“The professional journalists gave the invention to Pyra, but this was unfair.”

This is an interesting point. We’ve been waiting for media traction on weblogs for awhile now, and once it came, the media gave the most ink to the one with the most social *oomph.* And that was undeniably Blogger. Yes, it’s true that proto-weblogs existed long before, but the fact is that around Spring 2000, Blogger emerged as a social and micro-cultural steamroller. It was a classic Gladwellian tipping point for weblogs.

I think it’s unfair to characterize Pyra as misleading the media, when it’s pretty obvious that nearly all competitors weren’t up to the task in the first place. UserLand, LiveJournal, Pitas, whatever — they couldn’t match Pyra/Blogger in terms of X-factored, lovemarked coolness. I suspect this really gets under the skin of people like Dave, who know the full story but only see the glossy post-Blogger human-interest tale being presented. Rather than characterize this as jealousy, I see it as frustration with an uninterested media that really doesn’t care about a detailed history of weblogs prior to 9/11.

• Posted by: scottandrew on Jul 19, 2002, 3:10 PM


Dave didn’t “characterize Pyra as misleading the media”. In fact he specifically said otherwise:

“It really stings that the people running weblogs not only perpetuated the myth, but probably created it and fed it to the pros. Evan says he didn’t and I believe him.” #

• Posted by: Jake Savin on Jul 19, 2002, 4:15 PM

I haven’t even read Rebecca’s book yet, and I don’t intend to, but I’ll say this… if she isn’t giving Dave Winer, Frontier, and the Frontier community any credit for getting weblogging grassroots growing in late 1996, early 1997, then she’s either very uninformed, or purposely routing around UserLand’s contributions, either to rewrite history (for whatever reason) or to do harm to UserLand.

The site ScriptMeridian.org went up in the first week of March 1998. It used a custom written web-based weblogging system (didn’t call it weblogging then, but look at the archives and and you’ll see that’s what it produced) which was based in part on UserLand’s NewsPage suite which as Dave mentions was available for more than a year before that.

A lot of old-time webloggers (like Cam) learned weblogging from Dave. I did too.

A lot of people have made reference to Dave’s personality or behavior, and suggested it might be why he’s excluded. As most people know, Dave and I are frequently clashing. We have given each other fits of anger many times. Through all that, I respect him for his accomplishments and vision. In my opinion and in the opinions of many others as documented on the web, and in this thread, Dave is often vitriolic beyond reason and is frequently caught doing things contrary to the way he suggests other people do things. I won’t enumerate them, the often-juvenile winerlog site does a good job of catching these contradictions.

Regardless of Dave’s interpersonal history with other webloggers, or other people’s (in)ability to understand him and communicate with him effectively, I think Dave deserves all sorts of credit in the weblogging story, and further I think anyone who writes him out of the story lacks integrity and fortitude.

I agree with Jason that until Dave puts a little more detail behind his review of Rebecca’s book, it’s lacking merit and its critics are justified.

I’ll also agree with Dave that it certainly APPEARS that the Blogger-kids and the clique of cool Blogger webloggers didn’t do much, if anything, to avoid making themselves look like the center and origin of the weblogging universe whenever the press talked to them. Whether or not it was intentional I don’t know. I have never held much respect for the Blogger crowd because of the skewed way it was portrayed in the media.

• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Jul 19, 2002, 5:01 PM

Dave received several acknowledgements, including one very kind footnote, in Rebecca’s book. In the footnote, there was a URL reference to Scripting News, with a very clear acknowlegement that Rebecca was using his points as a jumping off point for hers.

That seems pretty clear to me that Rebecca wasn’t going out of her way to exclude anybody.

And then Dave goes around and smears her with a “review,” even bothering to say, “she still doesn’t understand the medium.”

I don’t believe the book every purported to be anything more than a general overview with helpful tips to the neophyte, not a Robert Caro-sized tract on every individual behind the story.

While I acknolwedge Dave’s contributions to the scripting community, it is often the continued quality of the man that determines his reception. And in Dave’s case, I think his abrasive words speak volumes.

Another thing about Pyra: if Dave is interested in fighting exclusionary histories, then why doesn’t he mention the hard work of Meg, PB, Matt, Derek, et al. on Blogger?

Like Anil, I’m still waiting to here specifics from Dave on why he dislikes Rebecca’s book. I’m curious, because I like to read different points of view on the same subject, even ones that I differ with. And if that isn’t a civil question, one that many people have asked, I don’t know what is. Thus far, Dave’s been reluctant to follow up on this. This leads me to believe that he had no other purpose to write a “review” than to draw attention to himself.

• Posted by: Ed on Jul 19, 2002, 5:03 PM

I’ll also agree with Dave that it certainly APPEARS that the Blogger-kids and the clique of cool Blogger webloggers didn’t do much, if anything, to avoid making themselves look like the center and origin of the weblogging universe whenever the press talked to them.

This stuck out as a really odd thing to say. In my own experience, the history of weblogs didn’t often come up as the reporter just wanted to talk about current weblog software and good weblogs, like this early article from the chicago sun times.

The first media article I can find on weblogs, the Salon one from 1999 mentions dave. This one from late 2000 doesn’t mention the history beyond the generic description that expert web technologists started doing them.

It might be possible, and I hope that Jim you can acknowledge this as possible, that people weblogging in 1998 or 1999 might not have heard of scripting.com. When I started MetaFilter.com in March of 1999, I hadn’t heard of scripting.com, though it came up on web programming lists from time to time. When I did learn about it, it appeared in the old days (here’s today’s date, from 1998) to be mostly about highly technical issues and recent releases of Userland products. Is that a weblog? I’d say yes today, with hindsight, but way back in 1998-99, most blogs were highly personalized.

I don’t think anyone writing a weblog history today would ever not mention scripting.com, but the point I want to make, and this is important, is that at least for me, scripting.com wasn’t something I consider to be a weblog until Dave started writing about himself more. From 1997-some point in 2000, it was largely scripting issues, programming news, new software updates for Frontier, etc, but at some point in 2000, it felt more to the reader (me in this case) that it became Dave’s personal site and was no longer a general news site about web scripting.

I could compare early scripting news to any site that covered the Macintosh (macOSrumors.com or something similar that has been around for ages). It didn’t read like someone’s personal playground, it read like a place to read news about a well-defined subject. But I don’t want to dwell on this issue of whether or not early scripting.com was a weblog or not, I mention it just because I wasn’t aware of it until much later, long after I had been reading peterme and camworld.

I don’t know of anyone that spoke to reporters in 2000 that openly knew of scripting.com and openly avoided mentioning it. Maybe it APPEARS that someone who was asked about weblog history in early 2000 didn’t mention scripting.com purposely, but I can’t recall anyone that actually did that. Even Cam’s much pointed to article dissecting early weblogs prominently mentions scripting.com.

I’m searching for old weblog stories in the media, but I’m not finding any articles that specifically state the history of weblogs and place the invention on Blogger/Pyra. I know Pyra got a comparatively lot of media attention in 2000, but it was mostly because Pyra fit the perfect stereotype for internet business media publications. It was a bunch of idealistic 20-somethings that didn’t know what they were doing but they were trying anyway. They also wore their heart on their sleeves with their silly little personal sites. It made for easy writing, because most people understood what a diary was, but again, I’m not seeing a lot of mentions of history in these old articles.

Anyone feel free to dig up some old articles that skewed history towards “Blogger-kids.”

I helped write the weblog history section of an upcoming weblog book, and IIRC, I talked about TBL’s first site, the What’s new page of 1993, Stating the Obvious’ filter as early predecessors. Scripting.com is mentioned as possibly the oldest (while doing research, it came out that one person had a blog dating in late 1996 until the present, but had the older pages offline) among Jorn and others.

• Posted by: Matt Haughey on Jul 19, 2002, 6:09 PM

skimming through 58 messages the thing I’m wondering the most about is how a single man (Dave) managed to have as many enemies as he has.

It seems kinds petty (and to me pettiness is one of the sources causing the hostility) to argue about once achievements in the area of weblogging since it’s still the writer that makes the difference and not the software. There have been online diaries around before any of today’s tools were available, I personally kept something like a weblog in 97/98 using an editor and pure HTML (cheap shot on the side: Radio to this day doesn’t generate W3C compliant HTML) - and I couldn’t care less if that’s part of somebody’s history lesson or not.

• Posted by: Andreas Schaefer on Jul 19, 2002, 6:40 PM

I think Matt Haughey’s comment about the Pyra crew getting more attention a while back because the media was able to fit them into a certain steriotype is very key to this debate.

An outsiders view: The Pyra crew were percieved as the cool new kids. Dave was percieved as their Old School father. I say that with an admiration for both parties. I read both Scripting News and Metafilter every day.

I think the Pyra folks fit well into that larger “idealistic young 20-somethings join net startup to change the world” story that the media loved to tell. I think it was harder for the media to fit Dave into the framework of the story the media wanted to tell.

I’ll fanboy out here and give an ‘attaboy’ to both Dave and Matt. You guys both rule in my book.

• Posted by: mark williams on Jul 19, 2002, 6:53 PM


You make a good point about Blogger fitting the perfect stereotype. I was a little surprised when I read you hadn’t heard of SN until after MetaFilter… but that’s my perspective on the subject.

I said “APPEARS” because I was giving the benefit of the doubt, which I’ll restate… from my perspective, where I felt the people around UserLand and Frontier were driving early attempts at automated weblogging software (NewsPage, derivatives), there always seemed to be a disconnect when I read one of the press articles on weblogging that quoted someone from or near people at Pyra… it was like, “why are the press always talking to these newbie guys, and why don’t they ever mention the veterans?”

Anyway, I’m glad to hear there’s some mention of Dave’s contribution in Rebecca’s book (which I won’t read, nothing personal towards her, but I see no need to read a book about weblogging). Regardless of how much there was, I’m sure it would never be enough.


• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Jul 19, 2002, 7:06 PM

You make a good point about Blogger fitting the perfect stereotype.

You know, I pulled that out of my ass when I wrote the comment, but I think it is the real reason there were a dozen articles in 2000 about pyra and few about userland. It’s as basic as sex sells. How many articles mentioned PITAS.com as the first widely popular weblog software? Not a lot, because Andrew’s some punk in Toronto or somewhere, and not in the Bay Area. Of the Bay Area folks, you have a group of young heady geeks and an old software guy. What’s going to sell magazines or get VCs excited?

I was a little surprised when I read you hadn’t heard of SN until after MetaFilter…

Well, I guess I heard of it, but didn’t read it regularly. I suppose I didn’t see Dave as a peer who was doing the same thing I was doing until 2000. Along those lines, I don’t think people like pyra or pitas.com were copying or building on NewsPage because they probably weren’t aware or using those tools. Much like the wiki predating editthispage. Sure, it happened, but I don’t think the mere existence of wikis made editthispage.com possible or not.

• Posted by: Matt Haughey on Jul 19, 2002, 7:45 PM

I always thought “curmudgeon” was part of Dave’s charm, personality, and brand.

A Ryze colleague asked me “How are blogs qualified?” In other words, how do you tell good sources from bad?

This thread is the answer. Talmudic debate, sometimes on one page, sometimes spread across blogs, we engage in collective media criticism. All points exposed, explored; feelings vented and boils lanced. More than sixty posts in a vigorous debate spanning five days so far.

And on the record. Can you imagine journalists wading through posts like these?

What is the tone of this conversation? Maybe a packet of physicists arguing over beer; blending ad hominem, sophistry, and deep insight; all enjoying the experience, the flow, the style and substance, respecting the openness of the place, the medium we call home.

• Posted by: Phil Wolff on Jul 19, 2002, 7:58 PM

Thanks Phil, Matt, Jim and esp Mark Williams. Bygones are bygones, tomorrow I’m going to write up my meeting with MS people about Palladium, and move on.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 19, 2002, 9:18 PM

“He’s always been very fair, but others (like Cam for example) have told the wrong story deliberately.”

Dave, are you on drugs?! I have consistently and regularly given you credit for being a weblog pioneer.

If anyone here is guilty of revisionist history, it is you, who has a very long and documented track record of editing and deleting posts on your own site. Most of those posts that you have removed, including some that were about me, were very nasty and fowl. Of course, they no longer exist in your archives, so there’s no way I can point to them.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 19, 2002, 10:25 PM

Hey Cam, for what it’s worth, I edit my weblog during the day, but after that, it’s frozen. This would be an example of you telling the wrong story deliberately. Have a nice day. ;->

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 20, 2002, 8:04 AM

From Scripting News: People give me shit for editing my copy on my weblog. Well, you try taking the risks I do on yours and see if you don’t want to tweak it up every once in a while.

There’s a big difference between “editing copy” and writing something nasty about a person and then deleting it and pretending you never said it in the first place. I’m not the only person who you have done this to. Unlike you I stand behind the words I write and apologize if I offend someone.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 20, 2002, 12:13 PM

Unlike you I stand behind the words I write and apologize if I offend someone.

I want to apologize to everyone I’ve ever offended, including you.

Now, that said, you’ve offended me many times and have never apologized.

How about it??

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 20, 2002, 2:07 PM

Golly, gratuitous insincerity with a splash of unrealistic expectation, yum…cheers, have another.

• Posted by: Christopher Anderson on Jul 20, 2002, 2:18 PM

I have apologized in the past but if you need to hear it again, then so be it. I apologize if you’ve been offended by anything I’ve written.

Winerlog would not exist if you did not continue to behave the way you do. I would not have to repeatedly call you on your shit if you did not repeatedly continue to piss people off by “being Dave”. What you do goes beyond simply being a cranky eccentric or a quirky industry curmudgeon. You have intentionally attacked your peers, especially those who disagree with you or try to point out the problems with your personality and/or Userland’s software. I think that most people have simply given up on Userland despite the fact you have some innovative and interesting ideas, simply because they are sick and tired of the shit they have to deal with when dealing with you.

You pretend to be everyone’s friend but there are many instances where at the flip of a switch you can turn around and attack someone because of a disagreement, some of which I am sure exist only in your head. No one wants to buy or use software from a company whose CEO launches personal attacks on them.

Many people have tried to point out your character flaws gently, and you either ignored them or attacked them. A more blunt approach has seemed to work, but only temporarily. I would hazard a guess that friends who are close to you and who care about you have suggested psychiatric counseling or tests for bi-polar disorder, but knowing your personality you have likely either blown them off or attacked them for daring suggest that you need help.

Even when people do something nice for you, like the iPod gift during your hospital stay, you turned around and shat on them. Here’s what you wrote, since you possibly have removed it from your Scripting News archives:

…and guys and gals, this is for people who use Macs. I’m not one of those people. I use Windows. I have a Mac, but I’ve never even turned it on.

It’s like you are incapable of showing gratitude. Even your statement makes no sense since any longtime SN reader knows that you have been using Macs for ages, only having switched to Windows in the past couple of years.

Dave, I think you need to take a huge step back from your life and try to look at it from a different perspective. Hand the reins of Userland over to John Robb and take a 2-month vacation somewhere. Think long and hard about how you treat your peers and your friends. Reflect on what you have done right and what you have done wrong, and come back a fresher, kinder, and more understanding Dave. Perhaps, in time, the respect you have lost for acting like such an asshole will be earned again. Or not. It’s your choice.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 20, 2002, 4:56 PM

Or, as they say, ‘a fifth will keep you sober’

• Posted by: Christopher Anderson on Jul 20, 2002, 5:12 PM

I haven’t even read Rebecca’s book yet, and I don’t intend to, but I’ll say this… if she isn’t giving Dave Winer, Frontier, and the Frontier community any credit for getting weblogging grassroots growing in late 1996, early 1997, then she’s either very uninformed, or purposely routing around UserLand’s contributions, either to rewrite history (for whatever reason) or to do harm to UserLand.

But she *does* give credit to Dave. Does that mean she’s purposely rewriting history to route around Pitas and Andrew’s contributions? Sic ‘em! That’s right, don’t read the book, just attack!

I’ll also agree with Dave that it certainly APPEARS that the Blogger-kids and the clique of cool Blogger webloggers didn’t do much, if anything, to avoid making themselves look like the center and origin of the weblogging universe whenever the press talked to them. Whether or not it was intentional I don’t know.
My gosh, and Dave never does anything to make it seem like Userland’s not the center of the weblogging world. And GOOD FOR HIM. Why would any business promote its competitors? Should every interview during the dot com era have had a 3-graph intro where the CEO of some company bows and scrapes before TBL?

I have never held much respect for the Blogger crowd because of the skewed way it was portrayed in the media.
Niiiice. “Journalists write about you in a flattering way, so I don’t like you!”

Does that mean, since Dave has been a journalist, that when he writes something nice about a piece of software that you immediately disrespect the software?

Anyway, I’m glad to hear there’s some mention of Dave’s contribution in Rebecca’s book… Regardless of how much there was, I’m sure it would never be enough.

What the hell does that mean? I don’t think even Dave would agree with you there. Anyone who writes a book about weblogs should only dedicate it to promoting one person? That’s silly.

Here’s the point: Many of you have not (and, due to your incredibly strong moral character, will! not!) read Rebecca’s book. I have. It’s not about technology. If Dave is slighted, then so is Ev and Ben and Mena and Andrew and whomever at Microsoft wrote notepad. It’s about the process of writing for a weblog, promoting a weblog, and considering the implications of a blog and its place in the media universe.

I am realizing more now how intelligent RCB’s decision to treat technology as fungible is. Besides neatly sidestepping idiotic flamewars like this, it puts the focus, correctly, on content.

I know from conversations with almost all of the major weblog tool creators, whom I either count as acquaintances or friends, that they all value great content too. Great writing has nothing to do with the fact that it’s pounded into an Underwood #20 or carved into a stone tablet. All else is navel-gazing, and is not in the stated goals of the book that inspired this whole silly debate.

Try reading it, and maybe you’ll understand. That people are splitting hairs over tools and credit is proof positive that more people need to read it.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 20, 2002, 8:26 PM

Cam, you don’t know very much about me or what’s happening in my life, and most of the issues you raise are private matters and none of your business.

To Anil, in fact I very often point to competitor’s work on Scripting News. UserLand has such a broad product line, and so much of our stuff is free, that it’s hardly worth drawing a line. It’s also very hard to comment on specifics in Rebecca’s book without it being on the web so I could point to it. This is one of the awkward parts of commenting on printed books about stuff that’s happening on the web.

I really don’t agree with much of her philosophy of weblogs, and that’s OK. What’s not OK with me, although she’s free to write it is, is that her history ignores antyhing that happened before she got into weblogs. It’s not that hard to do the research. Whatever, it’s not that big a deal, and hardly warrants such a lengthy discussion.

Over and out.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 20, 2002, 11:17 PM

The book doesn’t “ignore” history, it just doesn’t describe it in the level of detail that would please Dave (assuming anything would). Does anybody besides Winer (and whoever wrote the cover blurb) believe Rebecca’s four-page history is meant to be comprehensive?

• Posted by: Brennan on Jul 20, 2002, 11:43 PM

Anil: Does Rebecca attempt to tell the history of weblogs in her book and give some credit to the originators of the medium?

I don’t think anyone has complained that her online or book weblog history aren’t comprehensive enough. The issue is whether she gives the most deserving people credit. I think it’s a point worth getting right, even though the subject clearly opens up a bunch of other unrelated beefs.

As for whether it’s better to write a book in which technology is fungible, my entire book career is based on the belief that people are more likely to fork over money for specific advice on specific technology. I wish all the luck in the world to Rebecca and other authors trying for a more general approach, but I don’t know that I would call it a more intelligent decision. Even though her Amazon rank is impressively small.

• Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead on Jul 21, 2002, 12:37 AM

As for whether it’s better to write a book in which technology is fungible, my entire book career is based on the belief that people are more likely to fork over money for specific advice on specific technology.
Rogers, you write tech books. If this were a book about writing good poetry, would it make sense to go into depth about the different hardnesses of pencil lead?

Even though her Amazon rank is impressively small.
Wow, I’m really not doing the small-dick “big sales=good book” thing. I’m surprised you’d sink that low yourself. RCB is an extremely kind-hearted person, and I know I would never see her take a dig like that against you.

Or are you arguing that “teach yourself to use a mechanical pencil” would be more valuable than Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style”?

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 21, 2002, 1:40 AM

It remains to be seen whether readers will treat weblogging like writing, and buy scads of general interest books that are not tied to specific technology, or look for tech authors like me to write about the tools they want to use.

The term “impressively small” was a compliment — her book has been in the low four digits for a while and even reached 331. It’s selling well on Amazon and getting lots of attention, so maybe her approach is the intelligent one to take.

However, my hunch is that if there’s any money in weblogging books, it’s for the wonky technical stuff that cures “information pain” for people who are trying to master specific tools. But that’s not an insult to Rebecca. I like it when people try to carve out room for new topics in the computer book section.

• Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead on Jul 21, 2002, 2:07 AM

My guess is Dave gets some sort of ADHD-inspired masochistic kick out of these thrashings.

Hell, I know *I* would! :)

• Posted by: Michel on Jul 21, 2002, 1:58 PM

I don’t know (or care) whose side of the argument this would “help”, but there it goes anyway, from Wired 9.05:

Winer gives out assignments, critiques, and praise; he pronounces it a good day but seems dissatisfied. “There is still no good writing tool for the Web,” he says. “We don’t have one. We’re close - but sooner or later we will have twiddled our thumbs too long and someone else will be first.” Afterward, he admits that Blogger has already beaten him to a key part of the market - the basic software for creating individual weblogs. “They won; they’re out of reach,” he says. “They put out a simple product that works, focused it on one domain name. That’s what they’ve got that we don’t - focus. We’re scattered over a lot of domains; there is no single one that means UserLand’s weblogs.”

• Posted by: Bernardo Carvalho on Jul 22, 2002, 12:13 PM

I’m going to take a few points back to the beginning of the thread because things got *way* out of hand here…

You know what? Dave should get more credit than he gets. Scripting News was (and still is) very influential in the weblog world.

Jason (Kottke) makes a valid point, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the book. This book could be considered “how to write a good novel”. And we’d all think it a bit silly if tips on story structure and finding a publisher were interspersed with tips on who wrote Microsoft Word, wouldn’t we? It’d be out of place, because a book on writing for a format has nothing to do with a book about tips on using tools for writing in that format.

To address the point of who gets credit and why, I submit a novel idea: the people who got the most publicity are those who were best at garnering it. Getting good ink requires an approachable organization, people with interesting stories and personalities, and communicators with good people skills.

That this thread exists at all, populated entirely by male software geeks arguing arcane points about taking credit for things is an impressive demonstration of why the inventors of a medium get ignored compared to the innovators in a medium. Are we all lacking in the social skills it takes to advance the medium, even at the expense of our own egos or preferences for some imaginary technical correctness?

To put it another way, there are people to whom all of these technical arguments are as irrelevant to their expression as technically correct mandates like XHTML and CSS positioning are to some of the creators of publishing tools.

And those people are the overwhelming majority of the online community. We’re screaming and pushing our way into irrelevance.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 22, 2002, 1:44 PM

“We’re screaming and pushing our way into irrelevance.”

Only viable statement in this entire thread.

• Posted by: Shelley Powers on Jul 22, 2002, 4:18 PM

Speaking of credit, today Dave W. wrote, of a new article on weblogs: “It’s surprising how many articles about weblogs don’t mention Weblogs.Com. It didn’t get a mention in Rebecca Blood’s book on blogs. It’s almost as if it didn’t exist. But it does. Weird world, it is. Spread the word if you use and love Weblogs.Com. It’s a good tool.”

Look at the article. I guess the mention of www.userland.com, davenet.userland.com, at least two radio.weblogs.com sites, at least two other weblogs.com sites, RadioUserLand by name, Frontier by name, Manila by name, and Dave Winer himself by name wasn’t enough?

• Posted by: The One True b!X on Jul 22, 2002, 6:07 PM

Hey One True B!x, Weblogs.Com is a good tool, and it’s free, and if people want to push it, why not.

You guys are so damned depressed. Shake yourselves out of your funk. Go dancing, eat some good food, get a prescription for an anti-depressant from your doctor.

Anil, btw, we’re not written out of the other blog books. Quite the opposite. And Kottke was responding to your friend Levine, who said some stuff he should be ashamed of.

Guys and gals, good luck with your lives. Believe me, you need it. ;->

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 22, 2002, 7:36 PM

Who’s depressed? In fact, in my post to me own site about how unsatisfied you were with nearly a dozen Userland-related mentions in that article, I specifically pimped weblogs.com as a service I do indeed make use of. I never claimed it wasn’t a good tool. I simply called you out on being greedy for PR when you got more PR out of that article than any other single weblog-related service did.

Meanwhile, nice job deleting your latest, um, “risk taking” — you know, where you credited Rebecca for being a pioneer in “facts are unnecessary” (or whatever your phrasing was) in weblog histories.

• Posted by: The One True b!X on Jul 22, 2002, 7:48 PM

I have not read the original book in question. I probably won’t read the original book in question. It’s not because of the reviews, it’s simply because the topic doesn’t interest me all that much. However, I am a bit fascinated by the history of weblogs, simply because I am fascinated by the history of communication.

I feel that weblogs are simply another form of journals, pamphlets, or newspaper columns. Weblogs differ from journals in that their audience is much, much greater. They differ from pamphlets and newspapers in the distribution methods and cost. Finally, weblogs do have other features that those other mediums do not have. They can be easily edited, and they can be searched. In some cases, they also allow responses.

What’s more interesting to me regarding weblogs is how they relate to other electronic media that predates the web. For example, dialup BBSes allowed users to post their personal thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. In some cases, BBSes allowed moderators to edit or remote posts or simply restrict posting to a single user. Aside from the use of a web browser, is there really any functional difference between a BBS and a weblog? Don’t get me wrong; the web browser does change the magnitude of the userbase greatly. My point is that they try to accomplish the same goals. The Well and AOL are both examples of BBSes that made it big. (AOL is an ISP and a media company to boot, but I stand by my characterization :-).

There are a lot of other mediums that accomplish the same goals as weblogs. Consider Usenet and mailing lists. They allow people to publish to a very wide audience using open protocols. Anyone can publish onto Usenet or mailing lists. While they offer both technological and social advantages and disadvantages as compared to weblogs, I would again assert that they are trying to accomplish the same goals as a weblog.

I have one more example of a form of electronic communication that predates weblogs but tries to accomplish the same goals. At Carnegie Mellon University, I know of a student who would publish his thoughts by putting them in his plan file. Other students could read this journal simply by using the “finger” command. He did this for several years, starting in 1992 or 1993.

I’ve been avoiding a defining a phrase until now: the “goals” of a weblog. I feel the goals of a weblog are to allow people to communicate with other people. In some cases, this can be one-way communication; in other cases this can be a discussion between groups of people.

I think any history of weblogs would be incomplete without mentioning in at least a sentence or two the electronic forms of communication before it. That being said, histories of weblogs that I wrote would include some talk of macintouch.com by Ric Ford. This primarily a technical site. However, it is updated daily and has contained personal information from time to time. As far as I know, macintouch.com has been publishing continuously on the web since 1994. Another site that I thought was seminal in terms of web publishing was mtv.com when Adam Curry ran it. He used it as a personal web site and weblog. Adam Curry now publishes his weblog using Frontier.

Finally, one last site I would include in a history of weblogs would be TheSpot.com, a soap-opera site that launched in 1995. You may be wondering why a fictional site would have any bearing on weblogs. TheSpot.com was a collection of journals of five different people who lived in a house. Users experienced TheSpot.com by reading the journals of the people. In addition, you could interact with the folks on the show by sending them email. However, TheSpot.com was one of the first sites on the web that included people posting personal information on a periodic basis on the web. Fictional or not, it was a fairly profound idea at the time.

Will weblogs represent a fundamental change in our society? For what it’s worth, I do not think that weblogs will change our society as much as the printing press. The printing press changed human existence dramatically. However, the web has certainly changed the way we think and work. Ultimately, I feel the web is fundamentally a new medium that we have not fully explored yet. (See Scott McCloud’s writings for some discussion of how to fully utilize this new medium.)

Will the web lead to the reduced influence of big companies in media, or the spread of democracy? Maybe. Will the web lead to the dominance of big companies in media and the spread of fascism? Maybe. Will the discussion of both of these items make for some good dinner conversation? For a little while. :-)

• Posted by: Sam Greenfield on Jul 23, 2002, 1:12 AM

I can understand why some of you stopped caring about the technology when you had a tool that did everything you need to publish your weblog. I don’t spend much time mulling over the origins of word processing or the creator of Microsoft Word.

However, I don’t think weblogging toolmakers will be irrelevant any time soon, because so much of weblogging is about becoming interconnected in new ways. You can’t build a hive mind without good programmers.

• Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead on Jul 23, 2002, 1:23 AM

You guys are so damned depressed. Shake yourselves out of your funk. Go dancing, eat some good food, get a prescription for an anti-depressant from your doctor.

Look who’s giving out advice. Dave why don’t you for once practice what you preach? In case you’re still wondering why so many people think the way they do about you. And here’s another clue:

Hey I was named the 16th most powerful person in IT this year, between Tim O’Reilly and Miguel de Icaza. [source: scripting.com]

So what. You don’t even mention by whom you were named the 16th. By Enterprise Sytems esj.com, some lameass mag by 101communications. My nephew named me the most powerful person on the planet, so what… Just proofs that you still don’t have any clue or perspective.

• Posted by: Andreas Schaefer on Jul 23, 2002, 2:30 AM

I move to adjourn. Do I hear a second?

• Posted by: Phil Wolff on Jul 23, 2002, 3:29 AM

Wait a second! I invented the weblog! It was me me me, you bastards, you!

• Posted by: stavrosthewonderchicken on Jul 23, 2002, 10:12 AM

Phil, if you hadn’t already noted it, I myself adjourned a while ago, but decided to let the thread continue because there were some interesting things coming out of it. For example, I’d love to see what people’s thoughts on Sam’s post are; bringing Macintouch.com, MTV.com, and TheSpot.com to the debate is interesting and pretty accurate, and I personally think that it highlights Anil’s point that people’s use of the medium isn’t dependent on understanding (or caring!) about the history of it.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 23, 2002, 10:14 AM

You’re all still a bunch of losers.

• Posted by: Sally Tenpenny on Jul 23, 2002, 1:20 PM

And in good usenet-like tradition, let’s call a close to this thread with the eventual mentioning of “Hitler”.

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 23, 2002, 1:55 PM

What is interesting to me is the difference between the Official History of Weblogs and the personal experience of everyone. To me, the first weblogs I ever regularly read were www.slashdot.org and (the late) www.stomped.com. Eventually, I discovered www.lisnews.com which focused on library news (which, as a librarian, I like to read). I remembered trying to implement the software that stomped used (NewsPro or something like that) but it still seemed like to much work. I soon discovered blogger, which led me to GreyMatter, and eventually MovableType.

When I discovered Radio somewhere in the middle, the desktop server model just didn’t appeal to me. But that doesn’t stop me from reading SN every day to find out what is going on in the blogging world.

However, this whole thread is remarkably similar to the whole Enemies of Ellision attack on Harlan Ellison. At least in the respect that they were both largely ineffectual.

• Posted by: Michael Pate on Jul 23, 2002, 3:56 PM

Hehe. If he does that a lot of his patients will die, does that matter? Maybe it does to the patients. Whatever. Take care.

Dave Winer • # • Tuesday, July 16, 2002, 10:28:51 AM

My site is no longer a Manila site. I have had enough.

Philip Jache

• Posted by: phil jache on Jul 23, 2002, 4:09 PM

About a year ago talking with John Robb I lamented that I get so much hate mail. John said “Dave you’re a rock star.” I didn’t like that answer, but he was right. With thousands of readers, there are a couple of dozen who think I write just for them, and they hate me and what I say, and express it constantly and in great volume. But when I got sick, I learned a lot, not just about myself and people who were friends, but people who had been my most vocal and at times unfair and abusive critics.

I said to one of my detractors, in a private email, after he expressed concern on my return from the hospital: “Life matters, right?” and he agreed. He probably would have been one of the people to join the latest Dave-bash-fest over on Queso, in normal times, but he didn’t participate this time around. These are the silent signs of progress, worth noting. The person knows who he is, and presumably will read this. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. If you’d like to acknowledge this on your weblog, I’d be happy to point to it.

There are other signs of people with good hearts. I am glad to see people put their animus aside. That’s how we heal. Let’s agree that life is more important than anything, without it there’s nothing to discuss, no progress can be made.

Being kind to each other doesn’t have to interfere with being true to ourselves; please let’s do the extra work to find out where the anger is coming from, and try not to be angry at someone, esp not me. It’s okay to have anger, just don’t direct it at anything or anyone, that’s a better way to go. Nobody’s perfect, especially not me. So if you find an imperfection, try to love it. I’m not your father or mother, sister or brother, you don’t know me very well. Express yourself, but keep a respectful distance, and all will be well.

Finally there’s a myth that men are strong, we can take it. Well, I learned in a new way in June that that isn’t true. My body came close to breaking, but thankfully it didn’t. I got another chance. I’m not going to waste my remaining time arguing with a small number of selfish people. I have love to give for people who want to heal themselves. But for people who want to control me, I have nothing more to give.

People like Jason Levine, Cameron Barrett, Anil Dash presumably know that I’m going through a challenging time health-wise. Their selfishness is something to behold. Jason is a doctor. Perhaps something good can come from this thread. Can we organize some response from the community about this. What do weblog writers stand for? Anything? Now is a good time to ask the question.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 24, 2002, 9:15 AM

I’ve worked to manage my own mental illness for years, having only been truly successful in the past 2 or 3 years in taming my bipolarism. With his incessantly bizarre and inconsistent behavior and personal attacks on my friends challenging my emotional well-being, is Dave Winer trying to kill me? Discuss.

• Posted by: Anil Dash on Jul 24, 2002, 1:38 PM

is Dave Winer trying to kill me?

Don’t sweat it, he’s just provoking y’all.

I’m telling you, he gets off on it.

That said, I see no reason to not give it to him, if only because I find it quite entertaining.

• Posted by: Michel on Jul 24, 2002, 2:26 PM

Can we organize some response from the community about this. What do weblog writers stand for? Anything?

Why do we immediatly need new labels and stereotypes? Can’t webloggers be individuals without a common denominator? Just because one expresses his opinions or feelings on the web using a certain software doesn’t make him part of any religion, political party or other social movement.
Dave, please STOP PREACHING!

• Posted by: Andreas Schaefer on Jul 24, 2002, 5:40 PM

Anil, you’re really pressing one one of Winer’s hot buttons.

It’s quite apparent that Dave would (as would many of us) benefit from some mental health treatment. His cycles of mood swings from manic, passive/agressive, paranoid and megalomaniacal are quite apparent.

But you’re certainly going to become persona non grata for merely mentioning that he might have any sort of illness.

It’s quite tragic to see someone in so much pain flailing about inflicting more pain on others but such is Dave’s coping mechanism.

It’s apparent that this recent go-round is yet another case of Dave’s needy personality. He, subconsciously perhaps, starts an inflammatory conversation and then maneuvers himself to look like some sort of victim when anyone calls him on his irresponsible behaviors. There seems to be some genuine form of masochism expressed here. Dave seems unwilling to reconcile his need for attention with the hostility it provokes. The fact that he repeats this behavior reveals it to be some genuine form of illness. One most folks are able to manage without engendering such abject hostility. That’s apparently a skill Dave has chosen not to master perhaps as his illness has become utterly addicted to it. As his comments about smoking reveal, he does suffer from at least a mild form of addictive behavior. One could, by not too much of a stretch, look at his incessant blogging as yet another form of addictive illness.

It’s quite a fascinating process to watch. The tragedy is the pain it inflicts on innocent bystanders. They’re left feeling that somehow they’ve done something wrong when they express themselves. That’s unfortunate. One wonders how many people have been driven off by his unrepentant abuse?

• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Jul 25, 2002, 1:36 PM

In a somewhat related topic: I wonder how many flames this thread touched off. I mean, it had to piss somebody off, and then they snapped at somebody, and somewhere, sometime in Brazil, a monkey died.

• Posted by: Joshua Gooden on Jul 25, 2002, 4:16 PM

Hmmm, wouldn’t it be fair to say that all those hundreds of housewives with “Journals” on Geocities invented weblogging? A Journal, or LOG on the WEB - right?

Just because someone built a tool to make journaling/weblogging easier for whichever reason does not by any definition mean that they invented “weblogging.”

That’s like Christopher Columbus discovering America when the Indians knew it was there all along.

Slapping a new name on it doesn’t make it yours. I am pretty sure we in the U.S. had a huge civil war to illustrate that point.

If that were the case, Microsoft would own the patent on oxygen.

If you want rights to something, you have to fight for it. That gets messy, especially when you don’t deserve those rights.

Truth is, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who would agree with this statement but they’re too busy writing in their own weblogs to be bothered to write here.


*Disclaimer: I am not, nor am I affiliated with any housewives, Dave Winers, Microsoft or Christopher Columbus. I am just a web developer & weblogger like many of you*

• Posted by: Kimberly on Jul 26, 2002, 7:23 AM

Anil’s link to the Quake News from 1996, which predates Scripting News, reminded me that Justin Hall has been pointing us to links since 1993 or 1994 on his famous Justin’s Links from the Underground (www.links.net). I don’t see Justin launching campaigns to get credit for creating weblogs.

• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jul 26, 2002, 12:33 PM

The real fitting end to this thread is a visit over to the wonderchicken’s Weblog: The Movie What a hoot. Puts the whole thing in perspective.


• Posted by: Tim on Jul 30, 2002, 3:06 AM

Tim, good find — funny, that stavros.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Aug 3, 2002, 12:24 PM

Don’t forget The Semi-Existence of Bryon. If a case can be made for The Spot to be included, this has an even stronger case. It began earlier (some time in 1995 at the latest) and isn’t fiction.

• Posted by: Jed on Aug 14, 2002, 9:26 AM

From the “dave can’t let sleeping dogs lie” department:


• Posted by: Zaphod Beebelbrox on Mar 31, 2003, 9:16 AM
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