The nice thing about the internet is that people can fight and bicker but at the end of the day everyone comes out a winner. In real fights people lose teeth, eyes, pride, and much more. Bystanders would be foolish to jump into a crazy brawl but on the internet everyone just jumps right in.
The latest Calacanis theater is brought to you by Dave Winer of Scripting News fame. This time Calacanis was speaking again like he usually does, doing a little entertainment, postulating, and self-promotion. But the man is good and people know to expect a little promotion so he gets offers from all over to speak.
I guess the interesting thing about this encounter is that it happened in real life instead of being initiated on the internet. Just imagine Al Gore heckling George Bush on his position regarding Iraq. That would be a festival for sure.
My friend Dave Winer heckled me from the back row and threw me under the bus on this blog yesterday (insert “with friends like these” joke here). Dave’s complaint was a I was “spamming” from the stage by talking about my latest passion (the internet’s evironmental crisis) and my piece of the solution, Mahalo, I’ve never been heckled—heck, yelled at—like this in mind presentation in 12 years of speaking at events, let alone by a friend.
On getting “Winered” yesterday
So, at the end of the day we get the usual kiss and make up. I thought that this discussion was interesting not for the celebrity slugfest that it was but because it illustrates the identity crisis of the internet.
All the foundations of the internet are built on open source specifications and software. Not even Microsoft transporting their fat coffers back in time could create the vast infrastructure required to power the internet. All the wonderful things we get from the web is built on such gifts of time and talent. Yet, a lot of the stuff built with such open source tools also happen to be cash cows generating revenue of all sorts.
I think advertising on the web is quickly approaching the sustainability of television advertising (because the internet is eating their budget as well). Just as broadcasting companies spend millions of dollars creating programs for free (with ample ads in between), internet companies are producing web apps instead of TV shows.
Big ideas on the web are worth big bucks. All the open source projects out there give lone developers the power to create powerful commercial products yet open source is rarely if ever financially sustainable let alone profitable. I think the Winer versus Calacanis spat is a good illustration of “ideals versus reality”. Winer is the father of RSS and despite RSS’ ubiquity, he’s not a penny richer for the technology itself. Of course, companies like Feedburner exist only because RSS does. It wouldn’t even be an idea without RSS. I don’t feel sorry for Winer because he’s richer than any of us ever will be but it’s obvious that the man holds certain ideals about the internet very close to his heart.
Maybe those ideals are long dead because the internet is a money machine if there ever was one until something better comes along.