Date: September 2000
Subject: Excluding Dave Winer
From: Erin Clerico

Tim:

I would like to know why you excluded Dave Winer from your P-to-P Summit?

In your careful and thoughtful selection process, did your personal feelings about Dave influence you to exclude his voice?

Dave has a currently shipping P-to-P product, one that is unique and very forward in many ways. I think you should include Dave, caustic attitude and all, in future events that center around this topic.

Thank you Tim.

Erin Clerico


Erin,

A lot is implied by the way you phrase the question. There are at least a hundred projects, companies and individuals who could productively have been invited to the "p2p summit." Were they "excluded," or merely not invited? The latter is a far less inflammatory way of asking the same question.

Unlike the free software/open source summit, where there was very clearly a canonical list of "big names" who had to be invited, in this case, the space is very unformed, and the purpose of the meeting was to explore its shape, to bring together some people who would not normally think of themselves as part of the same technological trend but who might have interesting perspectives on it. Dave certainly fits that criterion. He's an interesting thinker on peer-to-peer, is working on it from several angles, and clearly has a lot to contribute. But so do a lot of other people who also weren't invited, in the interest of keeping the group small enough to be productive. Jim McCoy of MojoNation, David Anderson of Seti@Home, Justin Frankel of Nullsoft, to name only a few. My "careful and thoughtful selection process" was to bring together some people who I know and some who I wanted to know better, and it was not an attempt to figure out or to canonize everyone who is important in the space. I hope we can do that at the far larger P2P Conference we're planning in San Francisco February 14-16 of next year.

So why didn't I invite Dave? I was looking for people who I thought would work well together in an unstructured way, without grand standing or insulting other participants if they happen to disagree. My experience in working with Dave is that you never know what you're going to get. He can be a great contributor, but he can also decide, for no apparent reason, that someone is somehow on "the other side," at which point he becomes disruptive and abusive.

I know Dave claims he doesn't like personal statements (except the ones he makes, of course), but he suggested that his readers ask, and you've done so. I've given Dave this feedback privately, and each time he's said it's inappropriate to tell him such things, that he believes his behavior is above reproach, and that I'm out of line for giving him any personal feedback.

When someone reserves for himself the right to "flame at will," and claims that his flames are only his quest for truth, in spite of feedback to the contrary from many people, he should expect that those people will not invite him to their meetings or discussions. I completely grant that Dave has the right to remain on the outside, to critique anyone he likes, and to crusade for whatever causes he believes in, but if he wants to be included in events that I organize, he'll have to behave more politely. He may consider that censorship; I consider it etiquette. No one disputes his right to his views--in fact, we all still read him because his views and ideas are so interesting--but I think he needs to recognize that his social habits will, from time to time, lead him to be left out of events and discussions to which he might otherwise be invited.

So, did my personal feelings about Dave (or more precisely, my personal experience working together with Dave in the past) influence my decision not to invite him? Absolutely. Did it influence me to "exclude his voice" -- absolutely not. I've regularly read what he's written, passed along his ideas to others, even invited him to write a chapter in an upcoming anthology on P2P that we're planning to publish. (Note that he turned us down, which I quoted in the linked message.) [Editor's Note: The "turned us down" link points to Login.UserLand.Com, which requires that you fill out a membership form before the message may be viewed.] I'd be glad to have him speak at our conference, if he wants to reconsider his refusal.

Tim


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