Sunday, May 08, 2005

BlogNashville Revisited

I have spent quite a bit of time today scanning the blogs of attendees of BlogNashville. This was my first opportunity to meet bloggers in person, and I am extremely interested in seeing what their take was on the event. During the sessions I didn't have much to contribute to the discussions, instead concentrating on soaking up as much knowledge and as many ideas as I could in that too short timespan. Consider me a blog groupie wannabe, if you will.

Between sessions I also had the chance to talk with quite a few fellow bloggers, and to eavesdrop on a few conversations. It appeared that much of the discussions involved the same topics as were covered in the sessions, but tech talk also abounded. Include in that talk of previous encounters, plans for evening events, and even some sales talks. I'm not going to name names here because I was more interested in what was said than who was speaking.

However, as I think back about the sessions, and read blogger commentary, I am somewhat surprised at one session in particular, that being the one on Respectful Disagreement with Dave Winer. Granted, it was exciting, and got a little tense a time or two, but it WAS, after all, about disagreement! Les Jones has a good, link-filled post about it, with numerous comments. He says:
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.

Scared Monkeys was live-blogging the session. There were many notable exchanges, well documented in this post by Sean at The American Mind, and others.

But here is where I am puzzled. Since the session was about respectful disagreement, it seemed appropriate to me that there would be disagreement. When the first tense exchange occurred, it erupted across the room from where I was sitting. According to Les' post, it involved John Cox, whom I could not see, and only partially hear, and Dave, who I could both see and hear. As the episode escalated, I was concentrating on what I could hear, and thought it was appropriate for the session topic. But as it became more heated, I began to wonder. At this point I leaned over to Doug Petch and asked him "Is this scripted?" At that point I would not have been surprised to find that there was a shill in attendance to assure that the topic of disagreement was actively engaged. It soon became obvious that this was not the case.

As others have noted, Dave Winer had a tendency to interrupt, to cut people short, and in general rub people the wrong way. He also seemed, after I finally figured out that this was real, to be on quite a short fuse. The example noted by Les (and others):
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.

Video of this portion is provided by Ian, the Political Teen.

Now, there was disagreement, and heated exchanges, and some DISrespect. After all, this was NOT a roomful of pansies. A challenge offered was going to be a challenge accepted. But there was also much respectful disagreement, from my viewpoint. My personal opinion is that the session was a success.

On another subject, I also found that I was not the first to offer this quote as BlogNashville Best Quote. It seems that Doug beat me by a couple of hours! The power and potential of the blogosphere is going to be put on display, maybe, increasing John Jay Hooker's national recognition. Or.... Maybe not.