Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Update: this was over-the-top. I jumped way too fast at the symmetry of two wikipioneers at odds and didn't stop to think whether I was grossly inflating a very minor third-hand remark. Mea culpa, I'm stupid.

The inventor of the wiki (Ward Cunningham) is apparently not too fond of Jimmy Wales. One of Cunningham's co-workers says:

Putting the utter stupidity of discussing Jimbo's sex life at all aside, I will say that this episode rings true for me in one important sense. As an employee of a for-profit wiki [AboutUs], I've had the *entire* 20+ person staff agree unanimously that they love Wikipedia despite Jimmy Wales, emphasis on the "despite". Part of me recognizes that all this hullabaloo is a product of the media's inane focus on the cult of celebrity, but still -- wouldn't we just be better off without him? My moral compass swings to a resounding Yes. of [those staff members] is Ward Cunningham.


GerardM said...

Ward is quoted as saying people are putting words in his mouth.

Why all this silliness ?

llywrch said...

Steven's email (which Ben quoted in his post) is a problematic statement, to say the least. Let me explain why, speaking from my own knowledge of the situation.

First, I can attest that Steven and Ward do know each other; I happen to know each other, and while Steven might be headstrong or demonstrate a lapse in judgment, I don't think he is a liar. Further, Steven appears to be working at the same company Ward is. (Although last time I talked with the owners of, I was told they weren't planning on making any new hires in the foreseeable future.)

Lastly, Gerard's sweeping statement above about people putting words in Ward's mouth apparently is based on this email to the Foundation-l list. I have performed a search for any public statement by Ward on this matter, & he so far has not released one. The Foundation-l email does not contain a direct quote, so it entirely possible that the words Ward used when asked about Steven's quote had a different emphasis or connotation. I wouldn't go around blandly saying "people are putting words in Ward's mouth", but I guess I'm just more careful with my words than Gerard.

So what did Ward actually say about the situation? I can speculate over these facts as well as anyone, but until Ward releases his own statement I still stand by what I wrote elsewhere about Ward: he is a warm and generous person. Because he has no dog in this fight, and almost anything he might say would cause harm to someone, I seriously doubt he would want to publically comment on this matter at this time.

(I could have been at the Portland WikiWednesday last night which he usually attends, and ask him about this statement, but I wanted instead to be at home to be with my family. I didn't think that this statement would become this important.)


llywrch said...

Re-reading the quoted passage above, and what I wrote, I have to correct myself here.

Nowhere does Steven say that Ward himself made an opinion about this latest Wikidrama. However, he does suggest that Ward agrees either explicitly or implicitly that Wales is no longer an asset to Wikipedia -- which may be overstating things. After all, most of AboutUs's staff is not located in Portland (where Steven is) but in Pakistan, & in another time zone.

However, Meijssen has responding to this email as if Steven is quoting Ward's explicit and official opinion on this matter. I find this a disingenuous way to reframe what Steven has said, and discredit him.

It was my mistake for not being more careful, and focus on what the words say, not what we think they do. Meijssen has used a blatant ad hominem argument elsewhere, in his blog responding to Danny's claims. Instead of responding to what Danny says, Meijssen villifies Danny; he writes at length about how he feels about Danny (e.g. "despicable", "beyond contempt", "selfish destructive behaviour"). Not once does he explain why Danny is wrong -- which, I for one, would be very eager to hear.

Let's leave Ward out of this. We have enough material to analyze -- or deny exists.


Ben Yates said...

Argh. I sincerely apologize for this post -- totally unprofessional. I got a little carried away. Might think about signing onto that blogger code of conduct (though I'll have to make a badge to replace the godawful default images).

llywrch said...

Good God, man -- no need to go that far! A simple correction is all that you need to do.

(Yes, I have my reservations about that "Blogger's Code of Ethics".)


Ben Yates said...

Lol. I'm a little on the defensive after all this talk of "trash blogs".