There’s good Dave, and there’s bad Dave…

Remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk and Spock went through some kind of rip in the space-time continuum and split into two personalities? There was good Kirk and bad Kirk, and you could tell the bad Kirk because he laughed maniacally and had a sash, and the bad Spock had a goatee. For some reason, I think of that episode sometimes when writing about Dave Winer, who helped develop RSS – which powers the newsfeed for this and other blogs – and was also involved in the genesis of podcasting.

As anyone who has read my previous posts on the subject knows, I have a fascination with Dave and his involvement in what is happening with RSS – not just because I’m interested in what happens in the syndication and feed/aggregator field, but because I find it incredible that after all this time one man’s personality is still getting in the way of so much. Whenever and wherever RSS is discussed, Dave Winer is the elephant at the table – a presence that dominates the discussion even if it isn’t mentioned.

Here’s good Dave, in a post on his blog that is aimed at newbies to the blogosphere:

“Someday, when you’re in the shower or lying in bed in the morning and get an idea that you wish you could tell everyone, remember that you have a blog, and go to the computer, and write it up and publish it. That actually feels pretty good, even if you think no one will read it, because you got it off your chest.

Kindly old Uncle Dave. You can almost picture him in a sweater by the fire. And then there’s bad Dave – the one with the sash and the goatee, who told Rogers Cadenhead that he was going to do everything he could to destroy the RSS Advisory Board because it was trying to mess with his creation:

“If anyone else decides to join up with [Rogers] on the terms of the old “advisory board” I will talk with each of them individually, until they see that it serves no purpose. This process will go on until Rogers gets the idea that it isn’t go to work. I may at some time send him a bill for all of my time that he is wasting.”

The soap opera continues, as Dave has managed to convince David Sifry of Technorati.com to resign from the board, and now has inserted himself into a conversation between Brad Feld of Mobius Capital, who wrote to Rogers (see his comment on Dave’s post) because he has investments in RSS-based companies such as Technorati, Feedburner.com and Newsgator.com – all of whom Dave sees as enemies. He has decreed that RSS must remain as it is, he refuses to admit that it might be broken, and he will take on all comers who say otherwise.

One long-time observer of the tech scene recently described Dave’s behaviour to me this way: “Now he’s added Newsgator to his list of kills,” said this person, who has known Dave for a long time. “This is getting to be like a serial killer. There is a sick fascination in watching him stalk his prey.” Let’s all bow our heads and pray for Brad Feld, and Rogers Cadenhead for that matter – and for RSS.

5 thoughts on “There’s good Dave, and there’s bad Dave…

  1. “Enemies” is a strong word, as is “kills”. Dave hasn’t done anything to these companies that wasn’t concerned with the RSS Advisory Board, and I don’t think he has a problem with them in any other sense.

  2. Dave, from my experience reading his blog, can be very vindictive when companies behave in ways that he does not like.

    One example would be Dave’s brush up with Tim O’Reilly back in 2000. You’ll notice even now that Dave tends to bash anything that has to do with O’Reilly such as the foo camp, or Tim’s conference speakers.

    link

    A more recent incident is when Google adopted Atom feeds. Since then Dave has taken to bashing most things that Google introduces. Before then Dave would say good things and mention that he had a conflict of interest (i.e. stock holdings.)

    link

    Another recent example, and this time it was just a threat to start bashing a company, was Dave’s response to Microsoft adopting the term “web feed” instead of RSS.. After the post below, Microsoft did back down and now Dave is back to talking about Microsoft in a relatively positive light.

    link

  3. You’ve mixed up two _Star Trek_ episodes – there’s one where just Kirk is split into versions of good/evil, and there’s another, about a mirror universe, where everyone has an altered, usually more savage, version of themselves.

    Further, the Z-lister sayeth not, except to note Mirror-Universe-Blogosphere politics would make for a fun post.

  4. Mat, lets not forgot this ..

    Dave said “Now once we have a single place for subscriptions, which is a real tall order, then all kinds of services can be built off that. It’s like the domain name system again, and perhaps that’s the way to implement it.”

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