Dear Doc, It’s about links: James Grimmelmann, in this essay on Yale Law School’s LawMeme weblog, articulates the legal and ethical mistakes of Dave Winer in shutting down weblogs.com. And librarian K.G. Schneider makes a great observation from his perspective:
“This affects not only the bloggers, but people who use these blogs. Some of these blogs have valuable information, and libraries and other information services have linked to this information. No link, no info. Those of you helping with the transition, please do what you can to help provide good redirects from the old blogs to the new ones.
My frustrations (and they are merely that, frustrations, not complaints or threats or flames) have more to do with Schneider’s point than with Grimmelmann’s incredibly reasoned insights.
This event is not about server space. This is about identity. It’s about investing years in following the rules one assumes exist for providing a pathway to the contributions one goes to the trouble of adding in his or her little corner of the web. It’s about links, not server space or hosting.
Ironically, Doc Searls, who quickly jumped to Dave’s defense on this issue, is focusing on server space rather than on the philosophical issues he helped articulate in the first place. Last September, for example, Doc said the following:
When none of your stuff can be found on the Web — either by search engine crawlers or by the countless writers who are denied the chance to link to your good stuff, you fail to exist in the largest and most vital business environment civilization has ever known. Links are what make the Web a web. Preventing them is the height of folly.
My frustration is not with losing server space. I am a fortunate person who has access to abundant server space and bandwidth. The fact that Dave Winer took away my access to his server space has absolutely nothing to do with my read on the significance of this event. My frustration is with those who should know better not recognizing that the Cluetrain issue here is about links: That when someone does something, either innocently or with malice, that disrupts the efforts one has made to allow others to find “your stuff” on the web, then they have done something that says, “you don’t exist.” And then, when others are allowed to keep their nearly identical links and therefore their “existence,” it says, “others deserve to exist, but not you.”
Again. I’m just frustrated. And, please, I love Dave Winer and am grateful to all that he has done for the web and for me personally and for all of humanity.