Dave Winer’s “A Respectful Disagreement” at BlogNashville

Dave’s introduction was “How do we disagree with each other without burning bridges?”

Conclusion after attending the session: Winer doesn’t know, and the guy is a massive control freak. He tried to lead the discussion, but once it got off the primrose path he wanted it to be on he turned into a jerk.

Example. Early on, Winer semi-admonished Robin Burk from Winds of Change when she casually mentioned posters and commentors in the course of her comment. Winer stopped her and said he didn’t believe in dividing people into posters and commentors because he doesn’t believe in hierarchies.

That was a feel-good groaner in and of itself, but he became a hypocrite once disagreement started by playing the speaker card, saying he was the leader today and that if Allen Forkum John Cox didn’t like it he could leave. Winer made the classic passive-aggressive mistake of starting out pretending to be incredibly permissive and then being forced to turn into Attila the facilitator to regain control.

An elderly gentleman (John Jay Hooker, according to Insty) who said he had been a lawyer for most of his life weighed in and said “The smart lawyers – the good ones – learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.” Another great line: “You can’t call a son-of-a-bitch a son-of-a-bitch without calling him a son-of-a-bitch.” Like someone said, get this man a blog. (Later: More about John Jay Hooker here.)

During one of his passive-aggressive spells Winer said that he was going to just sit down and let people have a converation. The talk went much better with him gone. The atmosphere was much less contentious than having Winer at the front pretending to be neutral, but cutting people off, saying “here we go again” and huffing “oh boy” when he disagreed with their politics. Someone noted that was a metaphor for the blogosphere: once you disintermediate the intermediator the people will figure out how to have a conversation.

One good line from Dave that was on point: “Kick ideas around, don’t kick people around.”

At one point Winer was talking and a guy named Stan Brown was laughing at him. Dave got on his high horse and was hurt and acted like he was going to demand Brown stay after class. What a jerk. I hope video will be available, or some people who weren’t there won’t believe how bad Winer really was.

Now I remember why I quit reading Winer’s blog. There were endless posts about RSS and how it was going in the wrong direction, and endless disclaimers about how we wrote about it for the sake of RSS and not the sake of his ego. Eventually I decided it was all about his ego.

LATER: At the after hours event John Cox was showing us his sketch book. His comment was that Dave Winer leading a conference on “Respectful Disagreement” was like a drunk leading an AA meeting. Jane Galt Mindles H. Dreck says it’s like Jimmy Swaggart preaching monogamy.

I drank with pretty much all of these people afterwards. More pictures and stories after we get back from dinner. LATER STILL: Or maybe even later. That lasted longer than I thought, but was very enjoyable.

SUNDAY MORNING: We’re checking out of the hotel for the drive to Knoxville. More later. Meanwhile, Tom from Scared Monkeys write:

Political Teen has the video of Stan and Dave going at it. Here is the link.

Great meeting you a BlogNashville!.


Oh, and we live blogged the session too. Here is that link.

Cool! I’m looking forward to watching the video tonight.

SUNDAY NIGHT: The video just covers the time around the Stan Brown portion, but it’s somewhat illuminating.

Tom at The Media Drop has a good recap of the session.

Dave Winer posts his brief recap. (LATER: he has more here. LATER STILL: Dave gets snarky.) Instapundit responds, Dave rebuts, and Instapundit rebuts that. Way to call names and curse, Dave.

John Cox’s sketch of the exchange between Winer and himself.

Paul of Radiant Marketing Group is trying to understand Dave Winer.

MONDAY: Stan Brown has posted his impressions.

Eye on Winer is an existing Web site to keep track of Winer’s antics.

Brian Carnell has a Dave Winer category with critical posts going back to 2000.

Hungry Valley suggests Googling for “Dave Winer” jerk. You get some illuminating results. For a guy facilitating a session on respectful disagreement, Dave sure has called a lot of people assholes. And, uh, vice versa.

The bathroom wall expresses its opinion on Dave. Via Sean Hackbarth.

65 Responses to Dave Winer’s “A Respectful Disagreement” at BlogNashville

  1. BlogNashville: A Respective Disagreement Session with (by) Dave Winer

    And we are off!

    Dave Winer is talking about the disagreements over the 2004 Election. The resolution of these disagreements in a respectful manner.

    Jack Valenti and Larry Lessig . A Star Trek Episode, matter vs anti-matter.

    How Do We Work Wit…

  2. Dustin says:

    Well, in this case you surely did call him an SOB w/o not calling him one.

    Interesting that. But what’s wrong with calling someone a jerk on a blog. They can always disagree in comments email or another blog.

    It’s not like dead tree media, where I have no capacity to defend myself.

    regardless of Winer, who I believe has gotten enough flak for jerkiness that may have just been the result of a headache or something, I think it’s pretty damn important that we not cloud the issue of civiity with the jingo banner cries of civility. What I mean is that often people get so hellbent on the slogan they contradict the meaning of the words. By being able to argue about tolerance, we recall it’s true virtue and meaning. By simply having empty talk of commenters being a poster’s equal and then forgetting why that might be, we really ass things up, as Mill would say.

    It’s like favoring minorities out of Fairness but forgetting to instill intellectual diversity. While I think affirmative action is great and political quotas are wrong, that debate rarely gets to take place because so many organizations are too busy making bigger and more grandiose expressions of Fairness slogan and hardly bothering with merits. I doubt a university Dean would do well to ask, just for argument sake: Why be fair to races? What’s the real reason?

    Far better to be superficial like my asshole mother.

  3. richard mcenroe says:

    Heck, I pride myself on my ability to be civil to any ***hole dumb enough to disagree with me.

  4. Chris Wage says:

    This is cracking me up, because John Jay Hooker is a notorious figure in Nashville and the imagery of him standing up at this sort of thing and delivering those lines is just too much.

    I love that guy. Maybe I should have gone to this conference after all.

  5. JJ

    Les Jones provides some insight into some tension at the BlogNashville conference, which sounded pretty entertaining (yes, I am a sick bastard that finds that sort of thing entertaining). It includes some good quotes from our friend John Jay Hooker:

  6. hyku | blog says:

    BlogNashville: Dave Winer – A Respectful Disagreement

    We’re in the Vince Gill Room waiting for Dave to start. Dave’s session was an out-growth of something he said during the 2004 Election. He knew that no matter who won the other side would be happy. The result would…

  7. Tom says:

    I think that was John Cox you were speaking of, not Allen Forkum =)

    Great rundown, glad to see more comments on the session!

  8. BlogNashville – Dave Winer on disagreement

    Dave Winer moderated a loosely structured discussion that ultimately returned to a moderately moderated discussion (IMHO).I would contend that this BlogNashviile discussion raised far more questions for personal reflection than it attempted to resolve …

  9. Dave and Discourtesy

    Sounds like Jimmy Swaggart preaching monogamy….

  10. Eh… This just sounds like Dave being Dave to me. I’ve known him on-line and IRL for around ten years now and, well, that is just how he is.

    Either someone with a sense of humor did the BlogNashville programming, or else they didn’t know Dave…

  11. BumperStickerist says:

    Heck, I wasn’t there and I now hate David Winer with the white hot fury of a thousand supernovas.

    I’m outraged!


    !!! OUTRAGED !!!

    or something.

    Guess I’ll go grab dinner.

  12. Hungry Valley says:

    To get the full flavor of Winer, Google:

    “dave winer” jerk

    Repeat replacing the second word with perjorative of choice.


  13. bubba says:

    bygod im sybil an i’ll kick aniebodies ass sez i aint!!

  14. The concept of a blog convention seems oxymoronic. Not that such a thing doesn’t offer an opportunity to learn something – f’rinstance, I’d never heard of Dave Winer. Well, hit me with a clue-by-four. But all the superlatives do sound a bit one-sided – he must have some bad points, too.

  15. Ed Brenegar says:

    After reading this posting and comments, I wonder if anyone is going to ever read Dave Winer’s blog again. At least no one in his session, it sounds like.
    Who is he, BTW?

  16. Don Park says:

    If you like food then you know that many of the most enjoyable types of food have shells or skins that you have to remove. If you want to taste oysters, you have to shuck’em.

    Civility in public discussion is, IMHO, an unattainable goal and thus an unreasonable requirement for participation.

    Some of us are bless with emotions that hinder our ability to communicate. Too often, we find civility restraining like wet cloths on lit rockets. Unfortunately, shedding civility tend to distracts the listener as well.

    So I guess the question is whether oysters should shuck themselves or should shucking be done by the listeners?

  17. Realist says:

    Wow, a guy being a jerk to other people during a discussion followed by a blogger being an equal jerk on his blog. Welcome to the real world bloggers.

    I love Bloggers predisposition to think that their fellow bloggers are somehow above the dirt, grime and human rabble of news gathering.

    If you were a truely professional blogger you wouldn’t gossip like a middle-aged womens crochet club. It’s like the Fox news of Blogs. To think that Instapundit would link to this post is ludicrous. It’s a clear case of gossip-mongering between bloggers NOT news. Your blog and Instapundit have sullied themselves in my eyes. Congratulations you’ve lost yourself a reader.

  18. Funderburk says:

    Hopefully, they will find a new reader smart enough to spell “truly” correctly.

  19. _Jon says:

    I wasn’t there. I appreciate the play-by-play / description. I found humor and understanding in it.

    Is there such a thing as a “professional blogger”?
    Congratulations, you’ve gained yourself a reader.

  20. Mason says:

    Heck, I coulda told you Winer was a jerk without all the hullabaloo! I don’t know why people pay such attention to him anymore.

  21. Les, take a visit to John Hooker’s website. He was also an independent candidate for TN governor in 2002, which was a hoot in itself. Google him for some entertainment.

  22. Les Jones says:

    Hungry Valley: that’s a mighty enlightening search all right.

    Realist: I don’t have a complaint department. When you say “Congratulations you’ve lost yourself a reader” it doesn’t mean anything, not for the least reason that I don’t think you were a reader to begin with.

    Mike: Melissa and I are checking Hooker out right now. He’s quite the character. Afterwards he was asking a lot of questions about blogs. He’s really interested.

  23. Eric Scheie says:

    Les, here’s an update for you. While I was waiting to go out to dinner I was in the lobby talking with Trey Jackson and Dave Winer came up and said “Hey, Y’AAAALLL!” He might have meant well, although I could have sworn I detected an undertone of disrespect in his voice. But he’s supposed to be against that sort of thing, right? So right away I said, “I’m from Philadelphia.” I didn’t have to get so defensive, did I? I think I need a lecture on civility!

  24. Chris Wage says:

    I should set hooker up with a blog. That’d be awesome.

  25. Live blogging faith-based blogging…..

    An evangelical Christian I am not. But I have been sitting here experiencing La Shawn Barber’s panel on Faith-Based/Evangelical Blogging, and I have to say there’s more feeling in this room right now than in any other panel I’ve experienced…

  26. Dadmanly says:

    A Respectful Disagreement at BlogNashville

    This underscores what the Liberal Avenger and I are trying to do at Debatespace. In depth discussion, even if if includes disagreement, can be civil, as I think we and our commenters demonstrate.

  27. Bill Ewing says:

    Sounds as if the testosterone (and/or estrogen, just to be politically correct and fair) was runing rampant.

    Bloggers have egos! Who’d a thunk it???

    I must repeat what my grandmother told me many years ago: 1. “Tact is the art of telling one to go to Hell and making him appreciate it” and 2. “One can revolt without being revolting.”

    It appears that these adages could have been used at this meeting. They should be considered when blogging, also.

  28. Whis Crage says:

    I can’t believe you people are actually having a “conference” about blogging. Well, wait — I CAN believe it. Fits right in with the delusions of self-importance and the mirage of “revolution” with which so many of you have enveloped yourselves.

    Go ahead, y’all… smack me up! I just spoke heresy. I just made an anti-blog sort of statement. Hit me, flame away, etc. Oh yeah — and point out the hypocrisy I’m displaying by USING a blog to decry blogs!

    A blogging conference. Good God, what a joke. Do any of you realize how goofy you’re going to feel in about five years, if not sooner?

  29. Chris Wage says:

    How am I going to feel in five years if I feel goofy now?

  30. Fascinating to sort through the comments. You can tell which commenters must have come from the Instapundit link — those who don’t know who Dave is, and people wondering why a blogging conference. Bloggers and commenters partying together?

    I’ll be anxious to hear Dave’s side of the story, because, yes, I’ll still read him. Whatever else he may be, he’s an authentic human voice. Maybe the “whatever else” that riles people is the way he emotes. If it’s more cool to be objective, not take things personally, have a thick skin, be dispassionate — then I know I’m not cool. And I tend to resonate with people and pundits who not only let it get personal but make a point of taking the world personally.

  31. Blog Nashville

    So there I was. I just finished up my work for the day and I sat back in my chair to relax. I decided to so what has been going on in the Milblog world at the time. I open up The Mudville Ga

  32. Seriously?

    During Henry Copeland’s presentation yesterday on making money with blogs, there was much discussion of blogs as influencers, their niche, sense of community, even trickling down. At one point Glenn Reynolds was described as being “like a cisco router,…

  33. Amos says:

    Come on, Dave is obviously a juvenile buffoon. He’s the classic technocrat nerd type, bright, good at his job, but unfit to interact with adult humans. I’m not saying he’s a bad person, just an insecure induvidual who behaves childishly when he encounters any form of disagreement from other humans.

    The Dave Winer type loves machines because machines do what they’re told, and dips like him are dime a dozen in the tech world. Their co-workers humor them when they need them, tolerate them when they don’t, and have no real respect for them. And, deep down, they know it, don’t they Dave?

  34. “Whatever else he may be, he’s an authentic human voice.”

    As opposed to all those suitcases and bars of soap that blog.

  35. richard mcenroe says:

    Hey, c’mon, I hear voices that aren’y human all the time. ‘s why I’m still a registered Democrat, they won’t let me switch!

  36. Dave Winer Reaction

    Cox & Forkum with a cartoon (what else?). Les Jones describing Winer’s passive aggression and this quote: At one point…

  37. Chris Neal says:

    I left the session about halfway through, thinking it was a total (and ironic) disaster. Later, I started wondering if it had all been a setup to illustrate what not to do.

    I’m glad to know this wasn’t the case. I think.

  38. Eric Scheie says:

    Regarding the “mirage of ‘revolution'”, I want to know what’s going to happen in the next “five years, if not sooner.”

    Is that code language for federal Internet “gateways” or something?

    Does the mirage commenter know something or is he also a mirage?

  39. links for 2005-05-09

    The Bynk Zone: I hates Lucas! I hates it forever! Cathartic rant, some profanity. He didn’t like Episode III. (tags: starwars) Les Jones: Dave…

  40. Is handshaking only for modems?

    Speaking of disrespect, I almost forgot about an incident shortly before the November election in which Stefan Sharkansky claimed to be snubbed by Dave Winer: Dave Winer refused to shake my hand because I’m a Republican. He also told me…

  41. stan says:


    I just put up my thoughts on what happened.


  42. Erg says:

    Eric Scheie, you’ve correctly decoded that chowderhead’s remarks. He’s got the Inside Line to the Conspiracy. FEMA’s involved, naturally. They (you know, Them!) are building a special Blogger Restraint Camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Come Der Tag, that’s where we’ll all be stowed. Them know where you live, and where I live, and like whatever and stuff. Better run for it while you still can.

  43. The Bloggin’ Life

    Les Jones went to BlogNashville and blogged the entire event (how fitting).

    What is so funny is that here I am in my very corporate-political-job across the street from the White House, as far removed from what was transpiring in Nashville (and wi…

  44. brian says:

    Who Put Together That Moderator Lineup?

    The funny thing about the fallout over this blogger conference in Nashville this past weekend is who in their right mind would ask Dave Winer to moderate a panel on “Respectful Disagreement”. That’d be a bit like asking Don Rumsfeld to host a panel on …

  45. Chris Range says:

    I started using Manila (designed by Dave Winer) in 2000. For a truly lazy person like me (I mean really lazy) it stacks up pretty good against other blogging tools and CMS’. It’s poorly documented. But once I learned it I found I didn’t want to give it up.

    1. It’s easy to use. Fire-n-forget.
    2. People still make decent 3rd party plugins for it on occassion.
    3. It makes RSS easy.
    4. My infinite indolance.

    Manila is perhaps most useful as a joy-buzzer in my office. When the propeller heads start carping about which OS (Star Wars character, brand of candybar, P2P method for distilling whiskey, Darren on Bewitched) is best – I zap them into a stupor by saying how Dave Winer is god and Manila rules.

    I don’t believe either statement, which is ok because I use it independant of context. If you can tolerate having people stare at you like you’re a purple monkey with 3 butts, it’s a neat stun grenade with a huge radius.

  46. Eye on Winer says:


    Well, it seems that Dave’s grand vision to have a “respectful disagreement” was actually just a ruse for a “Don’t Criticize Me” session.

  47. Tammy Fox says:

    Wow. This Dave Weiner guy sounds like a real head case!

  48. Stomaphagus says:

    “His comment was that Dave Winer leading a conference on ‘Respectful Disagreement’ was like a drunk leading an AA meeting.”

    He obviously has no experience with AA. Drunks *do* lead AA meetings. That’s the whole point. Who else would be qualified to do it? OK, pedantry aside…

    Yes, Dave can be childish, disruptive, selfish, controlling, dismissive — yeah, all those things. Many inventors are very flawed people since they have the ego to demand that other people listen to them and adopt their ideas. Dave is only one in a long line of crazed inventors. The lesson of Dave is “do what he says, not what he does, as that is an object lesson in not doing it.”

    He wants to generate light, he really does, but he’s a heat-maker at the core.

    Of course, it’s best not to put him in charge of a debate for those reasons.

  49. Thoughts on A Respectful Disagreement

    Much is being made about the A Respectful Disagreement session run by Dave Winer at BlogNashville. Dave is taking a lot of shots that are unfair: Brittney Gilbert, Tom Biro, Glenn Reynolds, more Glenn, someone posing as Glenn, Les Jones,…

  50. brittney says:

    Is there such a thing as a professional blogger? I’m happy to report there is.

    (^ I totally just got paid to write that.)

  51. Rip & Read Blogger Podcast for 2005-05-12

    Here’s what I Ripped and Read in my Podcast today:

    I’m going to play a clip from the video now. It was captured with a very jerky hand by The Political Teen.

    Play clip.
    Les Jones blog of the event was great. Here’s his comments:

    Dave’s …

  52. Chapomatic says:

    Symbols Have Meanings

    Okay, here’s the inside baseball. BlogNashville had a contentious seminar hosted by Dave Winer, who by several accounts came across in a less than gentlemanly way during the session. Winer responded to posts from attendees by putting a Confederate fl…

  53. Vince Williams says:

    I’ve known David Winer since he was a skanky student at Tulane.He and his uncle Ken spent almost every moment arguing when they were together.Winer would get purple-faced apoplectic. Not sure he ever realized Ken was goofing on him half the time.Contentiousness was in their genes, their grandfather was a holy man in the Frankfurt(Germany)ghetto,I believe.The community supported him just for being a mystic contrarian.Too bad all this commentary just feeds Winer’s messianic egoism.His carping does reek,however, as he is a world-class ingrate.To be disliked by Winer is a badge of honor.

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  57. Vince Williams says:

    You know David Winer’s schizoid style if you’ve ever read his Scripting News. Can you picture him as a nineteen year old student who didn’t own a PC because it was 1974? He wasn’t a bad guy, just a bit nerdy with his endless niggling over every nuance of language, whether it was logarithms or music. The repellent thing about Dave was his compulsion to deliver his opinion of
    anything you might mention, and it was usually a negative one, when it might have been more politic to withhold the unsolicited feedback.
    But Dave never cared about diplomacy, getting his point across was paramount.

    This was before he became the Dark Lord of the Blogosphere. A few years later, Umberto Llama’s wife said that Dave was smart all right, but that he had a social I.Q. of 0.

    So now the Founding Father has become the Juvenile Delinquent of the Internet, rampaging around, getting his kicks out of disruptive behaviour. He utters gratuitously inflammatory statements with no apparent motive other than to draw attention to himself, and then to exploit that attention to posit something that might be perfectly reasonable. It’s his way of getting there that offends.

  58. Vince Wiliams says:

    Dave Winer, “say thank you” to your uncle, Arno Schmidt, the rabidly atheist German author.

    Arno Schmidt provided the template for weblogs
    in his novels, including “The Egghead Republic”
    and “Stoney Heart”.

    “The Egghead Republic” is an allegory of sorts, it presents a Utopian vision and its anti-utopia.

    I wouldn’t waste time trying to interpret its Symbology.

    There is a cult in Germany that believes Hitler survived World War II,and that he hid himself in the person of another.

    It waits the Day the Centaur Beast rises again and leads them all to the promised land of the Egghead Republic.

    They take it very seriously: they want Arno all to themselves.

    You might say that we Americans live in the pre-nuclear holocaust Hominid Zone of the book.

    There are Centaurs all over the place-
    half-man and half-beast.

    I would say, a Centaur can be ridden.

    Where did I put that last book?

    Say thank you, Dave Winer.

  59. Vince Williams says:

    “…Winer from Douglas on the Kalamazoo!…

    That’s a quote from the fascinating, but very strange book written by Dave Winer’s Uncle Arno:
    “The Egghead Republic”.

    The book was published in 1957, the same year “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac was published.

    You might say that “Egghead” is the darkside reflection of “On the Road”.

    It is a coded exercise in nonsense.

    Arno Schmidt was probably a genius but a deeply distubed, misanthropic one.

    Atheism is unsatisfactory as a philosophical position.

    When I read Schmidt, I feel the presence of a malignant spirit, a ravenous monster anxiously hoping to devour me.

    Sometimes I felt that way about Winer’s other uncle, Ken Kiesler, husband of Dot Kiesler.

  60. Vince Williams says:

    ‘Fess Up, Dave Winer

    “Charles Winer in ‘The Scholar’s Republic’ comes to loathe the hypocrisy, corruption, and latent militarism of the Republic of Artists and Scientists, but finds a more honest and congenial
    society among the mutant centaurs of “the hominid strip.”

    All of Arno Schmidt’s texts therefore, create–
    with varying means and different contexts–a tension between post World War III dystopia and rural idyll.

    …remote rural locations, so far from signifying a withdrawal from culture, function on the contrary as backdrops for intense and sophisticated cultural reflections in Schmidt’s texts.

    …Schmidt…constructs his narrations as dense textual webs that allude to and quote from texts ranging all the way from Heraclitus, the Bible, and Middle High German to William Thackeray and James Joyce.”

    These passages were quoted from Ursula Heise
    in her brilliant essay,
    “The Intellectual After World War III:
    Arno Schmidt’s Science Fiction”

    You may call me in this guise:
    Chr. M. Stadion

  61. Vince Williams says:

    Dave Winer has dumped his vaunted principles before, but his ultimate betrayal was voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980 (at least according to his uncle, Ken Kiesler, also known as “The Great VavaVoom”), supposedly because he thought Reagan’s economic policies would favor the proliferation of computer technology.

    Dave Winer, are you for real?

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