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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Dave Winer recently posted a link to his rant about Google News not including weblogs in its news crawl. He posted the exact text of Google’s rejection email—presumably one that he received when he tried to submit one of his sites. Like he usually does on the Berkman Center blogs that he hosts, he opened up comments so that readers could comment on his opinion. The comments section is available to engender discussion and foster community. In fact, the sidebar on the page discusses how educators are “using blogs to help students express themselves and learn from each other.”

For those of you who don’t know who Dave Winer is (and that’s probably nearly everyone who’s not an active blogger), he’s the owner of UserLand Software, maker of a popular (though waning in popularity) weblog creation tool called Radio among other things. He’s also quite famous for a number of other reasons, most of which involve his passive-aggressive temperament and abrasive personality. He regularly posts abusive and offensive comments on his weblog, only to retract or redact them when he realizes just how rude they are (or when people tell him, I don’t know which).

I could go on and on about his personality defects (like linking big words he uses to the definitions at so that we simpletons—or non-power info mavens—might be able to follow the postings), but that’s not the issue at this point.

In the comments section of this particular post, he said, “Basically we asked a question, Doc and I and a few others. That’s all. You can’t infer anything from that other than we were curious to know the answer to the question.” I made a comment that stated this posturing of his was complete BS because the motivation behind assailing Google was pretty transparent. The whole anti-Google attitude began when Google bought a competitor of his, Blogger, instead of buying his company. It’s no secret that he had lost interest in his company and things would have been much easier if he had been able to sell out to a powerhouse like Google. Subsequent anti-Google remarks came about when Userland stopped showing up as the #1 hit on a Google search on RSS, when Radio didn’t show up in Google Directory like he thought it should have, and when a Google search for “weblogs” didn’t have as the first result. I then stated my rationale for why I think Google chose to not use weblogs as news sources for Google News.

He then stated that I was making this personal without adding anything substantive, a clear sidestep of my statement of opinion that was longer than my personal slam. I replied in a new comment that he was ignoring my point. Later today, I went back to see if anyone had added anything to the discussion and discovered that my comments and his were gone, stricken from the record. I thought it was odd, but not completely unsurprising. Dave’s quite volatile about criticism, bordering on paranoia. But I wasn’t going to let this censorship go unstated:
<div style="text-align:center;margin:10px;">Dave No Wanna Hear Bill Anymore</div>
Huh. I guess he can’t take a little heat. Dave’s all about people discussing things, levelling criticism, and exchanging ideas—unless they start attacking his motivations and biases. I was merely pointing out that he was not as disinterested as he pretended to be. Then it’s ban time, apparently.

I’ve got to say: Emerson, he ain’t.