I guess it wouldn’t be a weekend without some kind of pissing match or emotional upheaval in the schoolyard blogosphere, and the current candidate is a high-profile sparring exercise involving Jason “Mahalo” Calacanis and Dave “I invented RSS” Winer.

In a nutshell, Jason got up at Chris Pirillo’s Gnomedex conference and talked a lot about Mahalo.com, his “people-powered search” startup. No surprise there — Jason is a promoter’s promoter.But some people took offence at the promotional flavour of his remarks, including Dave (although Dave has pointed out that he wasn’t the only one, and Wired notes that Chris Pirillo himself made similar comments on Twitter).

If you want to catch up, there’s Jason’s response to Dave on his blog and Dave’s initial response and follow-up. Stowe Boyd has some thoughts about how Dave tends to be a loose cannon at conferences, as Blake Ross (ex of Firefox) and others can probably attest.

As I know from personal experience, Dave is notoriously thin-skinned — kind of surprising for a guy who has been blogging since most of us were in kindergarten, but still a fact. He even takes Steve Hodson to task at Winextra for describing his remarks at Gnomedex as being “pissy.” Robert Seidman, meanwhile, goes with the term “chucklehead.”

Dave maintains that his comments were all about how Mahalo isn’t a platform that developers can work with, and seems upset that everyone focuses on the tone of his remarks instead of the substance. But there’s an easy solution to that: don’t be so pissy about it in the first place.


As always, my mesh friend Loren Feldman at 1938media has a way of putting everything into perspective with his Gnomedex Thoughts video (thanks to Allen of Centernetworks for the link). And it seems that Jason and Dave have made up, according to a Twitter post — I refuse to call them “tweets” — from Jason, in which he said: “Accepted Dave… and as always I respect your ideas greatly and am always open to hearing how you think any product can be better. “

Dave has apologized (at least sort of) here, but in true Wineresque fashion, he apparently couldn’t let things rest and so has posted a number of suggestions for Jason on how he could apologize as well. Classic. Still can’t get enough of this topic? There’s more at Wired’s Epicenter blog.

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

26 Responses to “Days of Our Lives, the blogosphere edition”
  1. I even tried to be nice and updated the post to change pissy to upset because to be truthful I wasn’t there so I couldn’t be sure if his comments or attitude was indeed pissy or not :)

    But that still didn’t seem to please him because then he took offence to the whole term of slapfest at which point I gave up – and here I thought I was a cranky old fart … maybe he could give lessons.

  2. I’m not sure why he’s surprised at the reaction given his approach.

  3. Mathew – ever notice that the drama centers around less than 5 people?

  4. I know I’ve made this comments over on my personal blog already, but I just want to say again:

    1. I was invited to Gnomedex to talk about what I’m working.
    2. My presentation was designed to be three equal parts: talking about internet pollution, talking about my solution to part of the problem, and a spirited Q&A. The second I said the word “Mahalo” Dave berated me…. I mean, common courtesy might be to wait until the Q&A, or as former friends to maybe talk to me 1-on-1 post my talk?
    3. If the conference was a “don’t talk about your projects” conference I would HAVE NEVER said two words about my current project. I could have spent another 10 minutes on other people’s solutions to spam/pollution and went right to Q&A. I was never told not to talk about my project, and 10+ other folks talked about their projects.

    I’m really sorry if I broke some Gnomedex rule, but I’ve been to three Gs in four years and I’ve never seen this kind of behavior. Of course, now I’m getting many, many respected folks emailing me about Dave having a pattern of berating people at conferences.

    As I said, I’m sorry if I broke some rule, but it’s a rule I was unaware of. I’ve been speaking for 12 years at conference and I’ve never had someone berate me in mid-sentence. I’ m all for spirited debate during the Q&A, but again common courtesy would argue that you let a person state their case before ripping them apart.

    That being said, Dave might have good points about us having an API… which we’re working on. I don’t know that I agree with his benchmark that a project needs to be a platform that he can make money from to be valuable or interesting. That me be his personally benchmark, but it is certainly not the benchmark of success in the real world.

    all the best,


  5. Good post Matt. Dave can be the ultimate Whiner sometimes. He’s the typical nerd made popular because people are in awe of what he’s done (and happened to get rich off of it). People skills with a lot of the technical writers are questionable. I heard someone at a management seminar call these types the god-complexes – use of lower case “g” is intentional – and they should be fired from companies because they are poison. Now Dave doesn’t work for anyone so he can say whatever he wants, but he’d probably find life a lot better if he weren’t so pissy all the time.

  6. The best title yet on “Navel Gaze Sunday”.

  7. Wow, this is certainly bad press. Not sure how it will hit the general public or if the general public will ever care. I’m definitely not that tight with these “A list” people in the blogtechnosphere that spoke at Gnomedex but I would like to meet those and fellow blogger in a setting like that one day. In the meantime I will have to settle with local networking events.

    One of the podcasts I listen to is the Buzz Out Loud Podcast and never heard of Mahalo until Veronica Belmont left to work for them. I probably don’t have to right to say this because I’m not connected with that crowd from over hear in the southeast but my first thought was, “Hmm.. I wonder if Veronica is having second thoughts about leaving CNET.” Yeah, not the most educated insider thought but I’m not an “insider” (as far as I know) but it was a “first thought.”

  8. I personally don’t understand why folks can’t tackle some of these conversations in private. Perhaps more importantly, I think conference organizers are somewhat responsible for setting the guidelines about what kind of material is/isn’t acceptable during a presentation.

    At the same time, I don’t know how you could ask a speaker NOT to talk about their company & experiences…

  9. your last line was the best of the weekend. it’s easy to miss the forest when you’re one of the trees…

  10. Hi, Mathew

    This is so interesting, in light of my recent attendance at BlogHer 2007 and a conversation I was having recently with Tom Abate of MiniMediaGuy.

    See: http://minimediaguy.org/2007/07/30/3rd-blogher-conference-has-community-building-tips
    – and read the comments

    In a nutshell, one reason why I love BlogHer is that its tone and culture is markedly different from any other tech or media conference I’ve attended. Specifically, the pissing matches there are few and muted — whereas at most other tech/media conferences (which are largely organized and attended by men), pissing matches like what you described above are rife and even get played up as a kind of main attraction in the blog coverage.

    Just food for thought.

    – Amy Gahran

  11. my bullet point: if you can’t be pissy at conferences, where can you? here in seattle there’s this insane short guy who comes to some of the “mind camp” type events and fucking screams his opinions across the room in general directions. one wierd thing is the guy is clearly very intelligent, and exceptionally well-informed on leading complex web 2.0 issues, but what the heck with the crazy screaming? make some friends and join the conversation, guy.

    i hope mr winer’s point is considered, and i hope he makes up with mr. calacanis and they enjoy a group hug. one can be pissy at conferences but one can also lose friends and support. this is america.

  12. Dave Winer heckles Jason Calacanis at Gnomedex, while I’m censored on the UstreamTV streaming video feed, for saying “Jibjab is boring”.

    Moderator said “be nice”. Other chat users say “ignore User722”. Praise for Jibjab continues. I see head of Scoble dancing in hula skirts with head of Pirillo. I am honestly bored.

    I say Jibjab has nothing to do with Web 2.o and is silly, freaking boring. Moderator says “watch your language”. I get banned.

    Back to Winer vs. Calacanis.

    Winer uses “spam” incorrectly, accusing Calacanis of “spamming the conference” with promotion messages about Mahalo.

    Glad to be the King of Blogocombat. I’m on Jason’s side in this particular skirmish.

  13. LOL! I’m kind of sorry I missed Gnomedex….it’s always fun to see the various parties stomp off in fits of pique…but, your accout was great! and yes, just another “episode”…

  14. Ordinarily I might be inclined to say that Dave Winer overreacted, except that the target was Jason Calacanis, who stepped up last October and called a whole bunch of bloggers spammers and then kept that mantra up over and over again.

    It’s okay for him to call us spammers in the context of paid postings but not okay for him to receive the same criticism for hawking his product in a keynote?

    Still, I have a problem with shouting someone down in the middle of a presentation, and I think Dave was wrong to do that. It would have been better for him to simply blog or twitter it, but interrupting a presentation with that sort of accusation is rude, and didn’t really invite any kind of meaningful discussion.

    Which is, of course, my criticism of Calacanis. He jumped up and pointed fingers without really listening to the other side or giving some of us credit for being honest enough to disclose exactly what we were doing.

    Sometimes I wonder if this kind of drama and spatting on and offline isn’t just a new method of linkbaiting.

  15. It’s too bad that the drama took a back seat to the bullsh** about facebook code. So that means we will need double-drama next weekend to make up for it.

    We should create a “drama creatr 2.0” which we would import the names into and then it would generate battles for us :-P Imagine the fun! It could even be an iPhone App!

  16. Thanks for the explanation, Jason — and to Amy for the link. And Karoli, I think you might be right about the linkbait angle.

    And thanks to all who liked my headline :-)

  17. Btw Mat – I used this title first about a month ago regarding the fiasco over conversational shill marketing by FM.

    Your usage of said mark violates the CC license issued to me by the Nigerian Internet Foundation (NIF) to which I am a charter member. Should you not remove said mark within 18.5 hours, I will be forced to create a fight with you in the “blogosphere” in an effort to add inbounds to my count.

    I appreciate your handling this matter in a confidential, yet proper manner so as not to invoke the “Rule of Thirds” which basically says that you must have at least 3 inbounds for every “ego” post.

    Thank you.

  18. Calacanis is right, PayPerPost is spamming, there is no question about it.

  19. Mathew,

    Really glad this article came out. Was watching the whole back and forth via twitter (blog postings, comments, etc). Both made interesting points, but didn’t know which to believe. At least this is an independent view of what’s going on……

  20. Game on, Allen :-)

  21. Allen, good lord, can you imagine anything more painful than putting divas Calcanis, Arrington, Scoble, Winer, Hawk, Denton, Ted Murphy, Carr, and Battelle on a project and asking them to accomplish something?

    The only way we could calm them down would be to have Zuckerberg walk in on water.

    (and how will they all get along at TC20? Mike will have to coordinate entrance and exit points like the handlers do for Hollywood ex’s on the red carpet)

    Can you imagine being any of those guys’ wife?

  22. Mike – there should be a Big Brother Web 2.0 Edition.

    Just imagine them going at it in a head of household competition.

    And imagine their speeches upon eviction :-P

  23. Amy….there may not have been a lot of heckling at BlogHer because many of the women there aren’t building things (thus, don’t have a stake in aruguing about them) nor do many of them blog on issues outside of a very small niche. You and I are pretty known for shooting our mouths off in male-dominated circles, but many of the others who were there don’t even know about these circles….so to compare BlogHer with other conferences is a bit of an apples/oranges thing (not to mention that I’ve never had corporatos try to pick my brain so aggressively as I did this year at BlogHer…for shame!)

  24. Tish you bring up a valid insightful point.

    Men are more combative. Men are less enthusiastic than women. The highest praise a guy generally has is “not bad”, whereas women say “that’s adorable!”

    Men like to brag and compete. Women seem to be more nurturing, soothing, supportive. Wars have historically been fought mainly by testosterone addled nincompoop males, who would rather punch you in the nose than listen to a different POV.

    Male vs. female blogging is a very interesting study.

    Thanks for bringing up this issue, Tish!

  25. I think this story helps delineate the point at which Nerds become Dorks.

  26. Steven…well, I wouldn’t necessarily characterize women as more nurturing in all instances. Women have a different way of criticizing–kind of passive aggressively shutting one another out if they disagree. I think that’s why I tend to like men’s circles more–they’er more in your face about it. BlogHer may have seemed more nurturing because, as I mentioned, there weren’t any topics or discussions similar to the one at Gnomedex that would have bothered anyone in particular. Heck, I mentioned the A-list at the panel I was on (yes, I was on a panel at BlogHer) and I’m not sure how many in the audience knew who I was talking about.

    Which lead me to think: one woman’s A-list is another woman’s knitting circle (no offense to knitting circles…)

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