A public apology

What follows will be a love fest for Dave Winer, so if that might offend you, I encourage you to stop reading.

Dave was in Nashville for BlogNashville in early May, and I was among the voices that criticized him for what happened in a session he was leading. Comments were made on other blogs, and that led to some pretty hard feelings. I believe I called him an ass.

I want to take this moment to publicly apologize to Dave for that and to tell you all why.

Dave Winer and Adam Curry. Who's the REAL podfather?Firstly, as someone who preaches the value of argument in communications, I reserve the right to have my mind changed from time-to-time. This is the risk that must be taken in order to participate in conversations, especially those that involve argument. It’s a risk many aren’t willing to take, and this is rampant in the cocoon of contemporary mass media.

Secondly, Dave Winer’s pioneering efforts in new media warrant respect whether he opens his mouth or not. You don’t have to like the guy, but you damned well better respect the work he’s done.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that day at BlogNashville, and I’d been looking forward to seeing Dave here at Gnomedex. We had a chance to talk, and I listened to what he said. We may never be friends in the way I’d like us to be, but I have an entirely different opinion of the guy after seeing him keynote the opening session. There are people who like Dave Winer here and there are people who don’t. He handled a couple of harsh digs gracefully and with humor, and his demand that the participants follow his lead in the session was more understandable here than it was in Nashville. He did qualify his presentation here by saying, “I have opinions, and some of you may not like them.”

The point is I have a much better understanding about what happened in Nashville, and I think I was far too snarky in my commentary. Dave coined the term “unconference,” so he knew the unwritten rules, while most present in Nashville did not. Those were understood up front here, so even though there was disagreement, at least it was civil. Nobody got their feelings hurt, and I think that largely due to this understanding.

I hope that history rightly reflects his contributions to the personal media revolution and that his role isn’t colored by surface judgments and political differences. Up close and personal, he is as warm and friendly a human being as you’ll ever encounter. To those predisposed to a red state mindset, he’s standoffish, opinionated and wrong. He’s opinionated, true. But that doesn’t make him less of a person than the next guy.

I just wish I’d known him better before leaping to conclusions.

Dave, I’m sorry.


  1. Well said, Terry. Thanks for setting the record straight so publicly. For me, the reaction to that session — particularly the personal invective — was far more disturbing than the session itself, possibly because I knew what could have been accomplished if there hadn’t been such a chemical reaction. I still like Kevin Howarth’s takeaway so will use this chance to repeat the link.

  2. Michael T. Thorpe says

    Very cool, Terry. You’ve shown that you have something that many do not: personal integrity. You were willing to review your mind set and perceptions. In the world of new media, it is far too easy to take sides and be polemic.
    Thank you for stepping up to the plate

  3. Opinionated says

    Maybe one day Winer will realise that other people have opinions as well.

    Was Gnomedex an Unconference then? From the posts I’ve read it looked more like a regular conference — speakers, panels etc.

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