There Is No Cat

Groovy '60s Sounds from the Land of Smile!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

La compagnie, 'est moi

Much grinding of gears and gnashing of teeth in Blogistan over Dave Winer's decision to disenfranchise 3000+ bloggers in one stroke by just stopping hosting them. Dave posted his excuse in an audio blog; Jeanane Sessum transcribed it to make it more accessible. Dave says that he can't afford to host the sites by himself, that he's only one person, and that his health won't let him do it. Okay, that's perfectly reasonable. Nobody (reasonable) wants Dave to kill himself. Not really.

Except.

Except there's one question here. Why are the 3000+ web sites Dave's responsibility? When those sites on weblogs.com were created, they weren't presented as being hosted by Everyone's Buddy Dave, your plastic pal who's fun to be with; they were presented as being hosted by UserLand Software, Inc. The agreement made it crystal clear that this was a service provided by UserLand. When you signed up, you became a UserLand member. (Of course, UserLand also disclaimed any responsibility "in any manner for loss of data resulting from the use of this system.") When did UserLand abandon Manila users to the person of Dave Winer? Did they bother to explain to anyone that the service they once provided was now the responsibility of a single person rather than of the company?

I'm sure they didn't think about it at the time. Back in the day, it was very easy to conflate UserLand Software, Inc., with Dave Winer. Dave really made no attempt to draw distinctions between himself and his company. The perception that they were one and the same was set in stone, and still holds sway today, as can be seen in Dave's need to point out in his audio blog that there is a difference between the two.

So now 3000+ webloggers have been summarily evicted with no notice. Dave has perfectly reasonable excuses for his actions. But he has no excuse for the lack of action that led to this. And UserLand really screwed up as a company by surreptitiously abandoning a huge user base to the fortunes of one person with a bum ticker. I guess when you play with a cactus, you're bound to get pricked.

Posted at 12:07 PM

Comments

Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

That's the strange thing--anyone doing due diligence on Userland for any reason will now learn rapidly that 3,000 websites using its services vanished one day without notice for reasons that were never satisfactorily explained.

I wouldn't think that any business would want to have such a reputation...

Posted by Brad DeLong at 5:15 PM, June 15, 2004 [Link]

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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