Real Simple Values

Real Simple Values: In a previous post, someone asked if Dave Winer is like Andy Kaufman. Today, he has also been compared to Neil Young.
(Personally, I think he’s closer to John Lennon, or, one can argue, Thomas Edison,
for that matter.)

Still others have been asking this morning, just who
the hell is Dave Winer?

First, to understand Dave one must understand the politics of
Internet (and other) standards. I don’t, so I am free from the burden
of trying
to determine who shot whom in the battle over some protocol ten or five
or two years ago.  Despite my ignorance on such things, I do know
this: Until a majority of people agree on certain platform or protocol
standards, things don’t work. Until we agree on certain language
standards, we can’t communicate on things we agree about or on things
we disagree about. So, in simplist terms, along the way, folks had to
agree on certain standards of how the Internet works or it would have
all crumbled like some Tower of Psycho-babble.

Frankly, for someone like me, some of the battles that took place in
the standards wars look like the combatants were fighting over whether
or
not to use phillips head or flat-head screws, but I know enough to know
that until everyone agreed on what screws to use, they were all getting
screwed. And, I recognize, there are some billionaires who are
billionaires as a result of how the battles ended. And others got
screwed (but that’s another story).

At some point, the argument over how something is going to work has to
cease and everyone has to agree that a common ground exists. If not,
then multiple “common grounds” have to be established and, ultimately,
people decide which common ground makes more sense.

From what I’ve observed, Dave is a designer of (a visionary of?) and defender of common grounds.

Sometimes, these common grounds have been about technology standards.

But now, or at least what happened yesterday at BlogNashville, Dave’s
concern has to do with the design of a common ground that will help
apply certain standards of discourse among those
of differing views and beliefs and motives and backgrounds who, despite
those differences, would still like to communicate with one another.

On the surface, this may appear to be a utopian dream, but this isn’t
about trying to get people to hold hands and sing kumbaya. Nor is it
about wanting people to agree about what they believe. It’s about
trying to figure out how we can hate what someone else says or stands
for, but still be able to learn from one another.

In my opinion, it’s about coming up with a simple set of standards
(protocols) that need to be followed if one is going to participate on
a common ground of those who want respect and value for what they say
and believe. Follow these protocols and you can have a voice on this
common ground, don’t follow these protocols and whatever you say is
going to result in an error message. You can still have a voice, but
it’s going to be heard only on another common ground where a set of
values different from these exist.

Like Real Simple Syndication (RSS), one of Dave’s earlier battles for
common ground, we’re now struggling to discover the protocols of what I
would call Real Simple Values.

In what many of the participants perceived as a contentious session at
BlogNashville yesterday, the
following points of what RSV (real simple values) of blogging
may be. (Notes via Kevin Howarth).
Despite appearing to be contentious, these results appear to me to be a
great step in the right direction. (Thus, my vote for John Lennon.)

1. Transparency.

You are who you appear to be. It is clear where the blogger’s agenda
and opinions are coming from, and there is an ability to clearly
evaluate a blogger’s conclusions.

2. Accountability.

If you screw up, say so. Bloggers should do their best to rely on
accountable sources. If those sources were/are not accurate, admit it.
(However, did people ever not do that before? Is that necessarily new
to blogging?)

3. Creativity.

Blogging encourages unique content that gathers together niche
audiences (communities) and provides a focal point for conversation.
Not all blogging, for example, is journalistic reporting about a
particular topic. The quality, tone and style of the writing, in
addition to the unique authorial self-expression, creates a unique form
of communicating different from previous forms.

4. Passion and Personality.

A human enthusiasm radiates from a blog. For example, in today’s
discussion, many did not speak in the audience whereas, in a blog, all
personalities have a higher probability of participating in a
discussion. There is also a difference in having emotion, which is
healthy, versus being emotionally unstable, which is not.

5. Disagree without being disagreeable, leaving dignity intact.

For example, there is a tendency in discussions for the loudest
voice to own the floor, rather than the person/expert with the most
relevant content. Also, blogging (like law) is inherently adversorial.
Thus, the best bloggers practice and demonstrate politeness and good
manners.

6. Debate or dialogue clarity.

Good bloggers make it clear when they invite debate (e.g. well reasoned
posts clarifying a position) or dialogue (e.g. asking a question or
introducing a topic to invite an inflow of information).

7. Link to blogs that respectfully disagree with you.

We have a human tendency to seek out “echo chamber” ideas which cut off
healthy debate and dialogue in a blog. Blogging can easily be conducive
to the creation of one’s own little world, rather than inviting
respectfully disagreeing comments that strengthen a discussion.

8. In a mannerly fashion, call unmannerly bloggers on their lack of respect.

If flaming and insults are tolerated, they are thus encouraged.
Strategies should be used when appropriate to help eliminate such
rudeness.

9. Listen when your peers say you are out of line.

10. Emphasize (almost in an Eastern sense) conversation, engagement,
dance, romance, kicking around ideas. (Not binary right/wrong
mentality.)

11. If it is incendiary, don’t post it.

If you wouldn’t say it to that person over a cup of coffee, don’t post it.

12. Support America and American values. (for, obviously, American bloggers.)

Blogging gives First Amendment and Constitutional rights an excellent
territory to be tested and strengthened, further solidifying one of the
strongest democracies in the history of civilization. We can listen to
each other if we want. As Americans, we play on the same team and we
are a lot stronger if we work together.

13. Skillful moderation.

Handling trolls, praising intelligent (and dissenting) posts, balancing
a discussion with an appropriate amount of blogger’s and reader’s
comments, etc.

14. Forgiveness.

We all make mistakes. Learn to forgive, especially if someone apologizes sincerely.

  • Josh Hallett

    Perhaps I should clarify my comment about Dave being the Andy Kaufman of the blogging world. I was at the session/intervention on Saturday. During parts I found myself saying, “is Dave serious about this or that, or is he just playing a role?” Very similar to Andy.

    By playing a role and iliciting a response Dave gets you to think about something that you might not normally have considered.

  • rex

    I understood what you meant (as a fan of Kaufman, myself), but thanks for the clarification. I never quite knew where Kaufman was drawing the line, but that tension is where art comes from. Someone else mentioned Neil Young, who I cared for less (perhaps it’s that southern thing in me), however, I place him in the same category of artist who uses “tension” to cause us to think.