Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Save Dave

The latest Morning Coffee Notes podcast from Dave Winer contains a passage about the ongoing Audible podcasting flamewar. He starts the podcast with a warning against wrongly summarising other people's arguments, so I transcribed his words here (with "you know"s and "okay"s excised, starting about 11:15 in). One bit of setup needed is that he talks for five minutes before this extract about how American car drivers won't stop for pedestrians, and he relates a recent experience on a road called Shattock Avenue (or something like that) where he helped a wheelchair-bound person to cross safely by stopping the traffic himself. Oh, and he mentioned his recent heart bypass surgery.

So that gets me to my point. Now, a guy like Mitch Ratcliffe. Does he not know that three years ago I had open heart surgery? I mean, come on. Give me a fucking break. I am like that handicapped guy out there in the middle of the street. I'm lucky to be alive, I don't know if you get that, but I am. And if you like what I do, then you're lucky I'm alive too. I just thought I would mention that. I could put a little handicapped thing up there on my site that would say: "You've got to really be nice to this guy and not get him all excited, because if you do, it could shorten his life." I'm dead serious. Stress is definitely one of the risk factors in heart disease and I take on a fair amount of stress because I love what I do and I love the people I work with, I love what they're doing for the most part.

And then there are some super selfish people out there who just want to extract their pound of flesh. They've got to work with you the way they want to work with you, like Mitch Ratcliffe. Mitch Radcliffe, I don't know what the fuck Mitch Ratcliffe wants. He's a consultant working for Audible. Audible is a vendor, they're trying to get something launched in this space. Is this a tactic on the part of Audible, to have a guy flaming all these people in the community the way Mitch Ratcliffe is flaming us, okay? If it's a tactic, it's a pretty shitty tactic. This is a publicly-held company. I would think that by now, at some point, they kinda want to look at it. They're kinda like those cars on Shattock Avenue, and they're just zooming by, and they're not even noticing that there are people on the crosswalk there. The people on the crosswalk are their employees and their shareholders. These people are depending on them to do a good job. And their customers, how about that? What about their customers?

Maybe there is something to what Audible is doing. Maybe there is a way for them to fit in. I was looking for a basically factual argument, one that stuck to the merits of the technology that they're advancing, and the pros and cons. It's long past the time when you can obfuscate a discussion by inflaming it. It just doesn't work any more. There used to be a time when you could get the reporter - like Ratcliffe used to be a reporter - to cover it from your point of view, then people who disagreed with you, if you gave them any voice at all they would be relegated, they would run the quotes from them you would want to run. You could make them look the way you wanted them to look, but now they've got their own blogs and they've got their own podcasts. You can communicate directly, you don't need to go through those filters. Nobody can really control what you say.

So, it's really hard to say what this guy is trying to do. It's really confusing, and it's probably not a good idea.

Dave continues with the Shattock Avenue metaphor in much the same vein for another four minutes and I couldn't be arsed transcribing the rest, but you get the idea.

I wish Dave a healthy life, as I'm sure everyone would. I hope he lives on to a outdo Peter Drucker's lifespan. It would be disrespectful of me to comment on the above, so I merely present it to you to draw your own conclusions.


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