Winer Goes Full-Hypocrite on Sexism

Dave’s latest round of tone-deaf sexism follows a predictable script: first, make a broad generalization about a wide range of people with zero substantiation:

Next, when called on it, go into victim mode:

That’s interesting, isn’t it? Winer will cry ageism at any mention that his skills have fallen off (something he should probably take as a compliment to his former self that he’s probably not worthy of). He will also resort to personal attacks at the drop of a hat when someone disagrees with him  or says anything remotely negative in his general direction. Yet, when he makes outlandish and offensive comments, he’d like for you to follow the golden rule.

…talk about giving men a bad name.

Dave Gets Defensive Over Ageism

Dave’s heart fluttered when he saw that his bogus post on ageism had made it onto ycombinator, but then couldn’t contain himself when he was called “grumpy” (which I think is actually rather charitable) so he had to chime in, with one of his ironically named handles.

Hey it’s not the companies that push this supposed innovation, it’s the new crop of engineers wanting to
create a hurdle for others to jump over. Some knowledge that they have exclusivity on. Engineers have
been doing this since the dawn of time, but since you guys are so green you don’t know that.

Most engineers (like every other profession and occupation) are mediocre. They look for job security in
incompatibily. I once had a programming partner who refused to document his work. I asked why after
pleading with him repeatedly to leave a trail behind him. “Job security.” At another place, the
programmers had a slogan “comments are for sissies.” Same idea.

So if you take something like C and permute it slightly so that a C programmer doesn’t have the skill,
you now have something that makes you marketable over that person. You can snow the non-technical
manager into believing that your older colleague can’t cut it because he knows C and you know Javascript.

In this world of mediocrity there are a very small number of gems, people who work for the user, who strive
to make their tech work better for people. That’s a skill that develops over the years, you get better at it
every decade, because you know more about people. When you’re in your 20s you don’t even have a clue
about yourself.

And most of you commenting here are the mediocre kind of programmer (if you’re programmers at all). The
ones who are questioning the broad conclusions are the ones I’d want to work with, and I don’t care how
young or old they are. What I care about is if their minds are at work and if they can relate to other people
as equals despite superficial differences like gender, race, age.

It’s amazing to me that Dave can still harbor a feeling of superiority when it comes to programming ability. This is a pretty great comment, though, as it highlights a few different places where Dave’s reality departs from our own.

His implication that he “works for the user”. Of course, his “user” is himself (and only himself). When his users want to use his website in a way he doesn’t like (remember his pissing and moaning about google’s autolink functionality?), he’s the first to want to put the brakes on.

Also interesting is the combination of the suggestion that a programmer who knows Javascript isn’t more suited for a job (presumably a javascript position) than someone who knows C with his “mediocre programmer” ad hominem. This is the same guy (who supposedly knows C) that couldn’t figure out the most simple of javascript tasks — hiding dom elements based on clicking links. That’s about as close as you get to “Hello, World!” in Javascript, and he was only able to make it happen after a lot of back and forth with his commenters.

Makes you want to ask him whether he’s too washed up to program javascript or if he’s just not a good enough programmer to figure it out. (Could easily be both, of course)

Ageism: Dave’s Latest Excuse

It might just be me, but it seems that Dave’s posts lately have had an increasing number of claims of ageism. It seems that any time he gets snubbed, his immediate reaction is that it’s on account of his age. I’m sure that, sometimes, it is. Most of the time, however, it appears that it could just as easily be his lack of relevant experience and/or his distinct inability to work with anyone who doesn’t kiss his ass.

Take, for example, his latest claim:

Facing facts, I’ve been sidelined in tech for quite a number of years. No one offers me
a place in new startups. When I was younger things were a lot different.

If I can’t get into the game, I can’t imagine there’s much chance for most other people
in their 50′s to play a role. Which is really fucked up.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to Dave for the past 10 years (or 10 minutes) you can probably think of a dozen reasons why no sane startup would want him within 100 miles of its headquarters. Just off the top of my head:

  • He’s a polarizing figure who engenders a great deal of hate in the way he treats other people
  • He commonly displays an inability to work with others
  • His experience is tremendously out-dated — can’t even be bothered to implement new, popular formats because they’re too hard.

People might discriminate on him based on his age, but he doesn’t give them a chance. They’re too busy discriminating against him because he’s a self-righteous asshole. Unfortunately for him, that’s not a protected class in the U.S.

Dave Teaches You About Statistics

Dave is still crusading over his exclusion from the Twitter SUL. Today, Dave would like to teach you about a few different statistical concepts:

It’s pretty clear something happened in July.

We know this much — TechCrunch was dropped from the Suggested User List, right around the
time their follower count started heading down. As to why, we can only speculate that it was
because they ran a piece that Twitter didn’t like.

7/16/09: Twitter’s Internal Strategy Laid Bare: To Be “The Pulse Of The Planet.”

People have always questioned whether there was a connection between being on the list and
not being too critical of Twitter. At this point, there isn’t much doubt that the connection is there.

Here are the concepts that Dave would like to teach you about:

Sample Size — It is commonly believed that you need to have a large sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions. Dave disagrees. In his world, one data point is sufficient.

Causation — In Dave’s world, post hoc ergo propter hoc isn’t a logical fallacy, but a natural law. TechCrunch was removed from the SUL after that article, therefore that article was the cause of the removal.

Correlation — With the Dave Winer statistics model, you don’t need to consider evidence that you don’t like. Have any of the folks on the SUL written critically of Twitter? Who cares? That doesn’t matter! As long as the data fits with your theory, accept it, otherwise ignore it!

Science just got a whole lot easier.

Dave Admits Hypocrisy

Today he admits that he’s a hypocrite. Turns out that River2 ships with its own, hand-picked SUL.

Am I A Hypocrite?

Sure. Of course. I am a totally f*cked up human being.

Of course, he only admits that because it’s easier than admitting that he doesn’t like the Twitter SUL only because he’s not on it, and that his fervor comes from jealousy and hurt-ego more than any principled stand he’s taking.

That’s pretty clear if you look at his explanation for the difference between Twitter’s SUL and his. I also found it amusing that he calls Twitter the only game in town — this from the guy who ran (is running?) a competing service.

Dave, Dave, Dave. Why not just go ahead and admit to yourself, and everyone else, that the real issue you have with Twitter’s SUL is that you see follower counts as a Twitter scoreboard and you’re pissed that the owners of the game you’re trying to win keep helping your competitors?

Dave Really Hates SULs

We’ve been saying for quite some time that Dave doesn’t have a principled objection to Twitter’s Suggested User’s List and that his only real complaint is that he’s not on it. We got an email today which lends a lot of credibility to that.

Imagine there is another Twitter-like service out there that had a SUL. Imagine that Dave has posted about this service before, and is an active user of it. Can you imagine a situation in which he wouldn’t have included that service’s SUL in one of his rants?

I sure can:

Dave hasn't complained about the FriendFeed SUL because he's on it

Dave hasn't complained about the FriendFeed SUL because he's on it

What’s An Asshole?

The Real Asshole Dave thinks saying Obama is like Hitler makes someone an asshole. That might be true, but I’d like to propose an additional or alternate definition.

An asshole, is someone who thinks that people who say things that offend them should be tortured and killed.

These people are so stupid they need to be slapped in the face to wake them up.
They need to have their mouths washed out with soap and be sent to bed without
dinner. They need to be sent into hard labor and allowed to die of starvation.

…or, even worse (emphasis supplied)…

If you think Obama is Hitler you deserve to meet with others who agree with you,
starving and freezing and dying in a cattle car, sitting in each others’ excrement,
on your way to a concentration camp and its ovens and gas chambers, along
with your children.

Want another definition of an asshole? Someone who sees a disgusting post like that in Google Reader and clicks the “like” button. Like these folks:

10 people liked this – Alberto Serafin Lopez, Anil Dash, Claude LaFrenière, Evil Poet,
Fred McHale, Josh Fraser, Lloyd Davis, Mats Lindholm, jcator, px

Dave Re-Debates Lessig and Re-Loses

Dave stirred up an old debate with one of the titans of intellectual property law. Still believing he got the better of Larry Lessig, he links to an old post in which his course of action is to call Lessig’s analogy (comparing source code to published novels) flawed, and then create a number of analogies to Lessig’s analogy (being unable to sing a song just by having the score) that are themselves hopelessly flawed.

Fact is, in that old debate, Dave demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of how copyright law works.

He says programmers give the public nothing in return for copyrights. How insulting.
We give our time and our ideas, just like lawyers and college professors.

There’s no equivalent of source code in his two professions. If there were, I could
just invoke the Lessig Defense in court and get the exact same result, every time,
and even better not have to bother with a lengthy trial.

The problem, of course, is that neither “time” nor “ideas” are protected by copyright only the exploitation of creative works. So as a closed-source programmer’s contribution to the world of intellectual property goes, there really isn’t one. See, for example, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Because Austen had to release her work in order to distribute it, we all get the benefit of it entering the public domain decades later. This is not the case with software. The only way it will enter the public domain decades later is by reverse engineering and/or leaking it. At that point, though, it will be so antiquated as to be almost useless (see, for example, Frontier).

On the contrary, requiring software to release its source in order to be granted copyright protection would allow us all to learn right now, increasing the capability and knowledge of programmers the world over.

Still, Winer getting schooled by Lessig so badly that Dave doesn’t even know he lost isn’t all that strange. Also not strange, but noteworthy, is Dave pointing to the release of Frontier into the open source community as an example that he was actually right:

[I]n 2004 I released my main work under the GPL. There was no parade, no new
respect or even thanks from people outside the community that already used the
software. Did it inspire any young would-be designers? Time will tell, but it’s
looking doubtful. Just saying it’s harder to influence the future than it should be,
or maybe not — who knows.

The premise, clearly faulty to all of us, is that Dave’s work is so amazing that it should have inspired a young would-be designer, or that it was parade-worthy. Even aside from that, his situation isn’t like what Lessig was proposing. He released it to try to save it from fading into obscurity, rather than initially in order to bolster the community . . . it was one last attempt to make a bloated and dying software platform meaningful. Now, he says because that didn’t, that source disclosure is dangerous?

At the end of the day, it comes down to a very simple principle upon which Copyright (and patent) are based: in order to encourage contributions to the world in the arts and sciences, the government is permitted to offer those who contribute their works to the public a temporary monopoly on their exploitation.

The key here is that the creative folks are expected to contribute. In the day and age that copyright was conceived, there wasn’t a way to exploit one’s creativity without releasing it into the wild. These days, creativity can be holed up and hidden away in compilation and encryption, never to be seen by anyone but its author, but still granted a monopoly all the same.

I can’t say that I agree with all of what Lessig has to say, but he certainly has a very valid point as it relates to the copyright of source code.

Dave ‘Fixes’ The SUL Problem

I got an email back in July pointing me to a particularly idiotic post of Dave’s as he searches for a solution to the “problem” that is the Suggested Users List. He has several recommendations, but he leads off with the most entertaining among them.

First, he proposes a 30 day limit for time spent on the SUL. This is not a difficult suggestion to translate. Prolific Twitter members are a finite resource, so forcing people off of the list every 30 days would hasten Dave’s inevitable placement thereon.

Second, he wants to take away followers from people on the list now. Yes, really. His proposal is to figure out how many followers each of the folks on the SUL would have gotten in 30 days and then take all of the others they gained over that time away.

So if on average, over the last few months, a member of the list would have gotten 100K
new followers, but actually received 800K, he or she would lose 700K followers. It’s still a
gift of 100K followers, nothing to sneeze at. (And if it’s true, as Tim O’Reilly says, that
they don’t matter, then losing some is nothing to complain about.)

I can scarcely put into words how myopic and outlandish this idea is. He seems to believe that “followers”, rather than being actual users — actual people, are just a commodity to buy, sell, or trade. Which of those those 700,000 followers are getting the boot? Are they allowed to re-follow? Are they going to be notified that their follow list is just spontaneously being changed by Twitter for no reason apparent to them? The users can already unfollow if they’re not liking what they’re getting.

If they’re not reading what they’re getting, the only value they hold is to those who put so much stock in their follower count. Makes no sense, really, unless you measure the size of your e-peen by the number of Twitter followers you have, something Dave clearly does.

A Little EOW Navel-gazing

Note: ssues, both personal and professional, required a bit of a break from most blogging and then there was a bit of procrastination on account of the the sheer mountain of Winer-bullshit-backlog that just could not go un-commented upon. Many thanks to BSM for picking up the slack in the interim.

BSM’s last post (regarding Winer’s admission that he did not create RSS) got two inbound links of note.

First, a link from ycombinator, which provided a modest flow (and screwed the scale on our stats graph all to hell). They decided, after reviewing the site as a whole, that the link posted was of no value. Now that’s some seriously Winer-esque, ad hominem reasoning that you really have to admire. They didn’t even bother trying to mask it. They did quote wikipedia randomly, though, so I’m sure they had a valid point.

Second, the post got a mention in the Angry Mac Bastards podcast. I had an hour to kill tonight so I decided to listen to what they had to say and kept listening because they are a) angry, b) informed, and c) funny. It also helps that they agree that Winer is a “new media douchebag”.

The first nine minutes of the podcast are about Dave’s “oh poor Scoble” post and is followed immediately by their talk about the site/that post. If you enjoy that, the rest of it should be right up your alley too. The show is mostly tech with a mac slant and not so much totally mac focused, so even we unhip PC users were able to follow along.