Dear Doc, It’s about links

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.

Link aid

Link aid: At some point in the next few hours, the URL www.rexblog.com is supposed to land on this very page. The five readers of this weblog may want to update their bookmarks or RSS feeds. Also, when that change occurs, this weblog would greatly appreciate any bloggers who would be so kind as to send a little blogroll link-love this way.

Blog lessons

Blog lessons: Some things I’ve learned since having my weblog unexpectedly evicted from its home.

1. That losing a “host” is not as disappointing as losing a well-bookmarked URL.

2. That “What did they expect?” or “Are they so stupid not to back up?” are odd but popular comments by the schadenfreude crowd who post comments on geek-oriented message threads.

3. That Dave Winer no longer has anything to do with Userland. Really. Honest.

4. That resurrecting a weblog, even if you have it backed up, can be frustrating and time-consuming. And what’s the deal with how long it takes to propagate a domain name?

5. That in the big scheme of things, losing a weblog for a few days is a hassle, not a catastrophe.

6. That backing up data is a really, really good thing.

7. That this weblog may indeed have more than five readers; maybe up to seven or so.

8. That what you hope is true about people, is true: some folks are really generous when it comes to helping others. Voluntarily. Without being asked. And with requested anonymity.

9. That when you lose your weblog, the first thing you think about are in-coming links.

10. That even if you would rip a new one in a “company” that took away the URL of your weblog, there is some sorta “clued-in” etiquette that requires one to be sympathetic to a “person” who does it.

(Note: I sincerely hope nothing in this post is interpreted as a flame of anyone, anywhere. As I have said nearly continuously for several days now, I am deeply grateful for any and all of the unappreciated pioneers of technology who have made possible this weblog and the Internet on which it exists. I love you all. Really. I mean it.)

Thank god for backups

Thank god for backups and blogger-friends: Actually, I have lots to be thankful for. There are some amazing people in the world. Really. At the top of the list is Steve Kirks (houseofwarwick.com). He is my hero. I met him online first and then briefly in the hallway of Bloggercon II. Have I mentioned he’s my hero?

I will be posting some more about what it’s like to lose ones blog home and then to see it magically reappear thanks to the magic of back ups and the generous assistance and advice of some amazingly smart people. (Have I mentioned Steve Kirks?) More very soon.