Sunday, March 20, 2005

Winer tells it like it is

Why do I like Dave Winer so much, inventor of the RSS 2.0 protocol and co-inventor of podcatsing? Because unlike most tech developers, Mr. Winer uses his blog sometimes to talk about his personal life, and his personal opinions, many of which clash directly with a lot of other famous tech developers, and in fact are usually offensive to them as well. Take this one he recently posted, for example, where he discusses two recent developer conferences that it seemed everyone in the blogosphere was talking about in glowing terms this week; far from praising them himself, he notes how they are in fact these inherently elite circle jerks, designed mostly so the same 30 people can get together and clap each other on the backs over how well they're all doing, instead of actually hearing about the newest cutting-edge technologies, and having lively, balanced debates on the related issues. I've never been to these conferences myself, so don't have an opinion on how right or wrong Mr. Winer is in his accusations; if they're anything like science-fiction or poetry conventions, though (and come on, a hotel full of former-punk-rocker XML developers? of course they are), I have a feeling that Mr. Winer is more on the nose than most of these other developers want to admit.

Mr. Winer is always throwing in tidbits like this at his blog, personal opinions that directly attack the way his peers seem to collectively think about the industry themselves. I admire that, and am also usually entertained, which is why I like subscribing to his blog. Of course, this is a double-edged sword; maybe part of the reason Mr. Winer never gets invited to these conferences himself, like he was complaining about in that entry, is precisely because he's always making statements like this, and his peers have gotten pissed off at him to the point of not wanting him around. This is always the flipside of public candor, and I guess it's important to remember that politics never completely go away, anytime you bring a small group of peers together for a one-time special event. It was true for Dr. Who fans in the '80s, and poetry slammers in the '90s, and it's true for web developers now.