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More Tim O'Reilly stuff

Thu, Sep 14, 2000; by Dave Winer.

Yesterday I received an email from O'Reilly and Associates CEO Tim O'Reilly. In the message he says that if I don't stop saying things that he considers inaccurate, he will punish me. I responded saying Tim should say what he has to say, publicly, and I will continue to say what I have to say. His threats of punishment do scare me, but I have to go through that fear if I can look at myself in the eye.

To my readers, threats like this are an invitation to probe more deeply. I believe I can substantiate O'Reilly's corporate involvement in Web syndication standards. At the time I received this email I was trying to work privately with O'Reilly editors on ethical questions relating to this.

The post that Tim refers to was on the Decentralization mail list on eGroups, where a developer was objecting strongly to Intel's involvement in P2P standards. I responded based on my 20 years experience in the software business, that big companies will often do what they want to do, not what's right or fair, and often get away with it. As Tim observes, the post did not mention O'Reilly.

Tim maintains that ORA was not involved in RSS as a corporation, one of their employees was involved in the process, and that's all that was happening. I think it was pretty clear from the ads and one-sided stories they ran on their website that the corporation was very much involved. That Tim sent me the email at all, when he has little understanding of the technical or user experience issues, is also evidence of corporate involvement.

Of course there's nothing wrong with a corporation being involved in standards. But it is wrong for the CEO to threaten the CEO of a much smaller company for merely saying what he believes to be true. In all my years in the software business, after public differences with Microsoft, Netscape, Apple, etc, no CEO of any company, or even an executive, has ever threatened me as boldly as Tim O'Reilly does.

My reason for continuing to discuss this is to let my readers know that no matter what, I will continue to say what I think here and elsewhere, whether or not Tim O'Reilly likes it.

To the rest of the people at O'Reilly, I strongly encourage you to research your company's involvement in this area, to protect your journalistic integrity. If there has been a breach, in your opinion, report on it, clear the air. That would leave your publications net-positive on integrity. That your CEO takes an active interest in supressing free dialog is a situation, imho, that no high integrity journalist can tolerate.

BTW, one of the reasons I said Uncle! yesterday on RSS 1.0, is because I could see this coming; I had already received Tim's email but hadn't decided how to respond, and before doing so I decided to do the kind thing for RSS.

Let Tim come after me if he must, but let's not take RSS with it. Its name is really getting tarnished. I urge Tim to consider his involvement in RSS, and in general what's good for the Internet, and not drag its good name through the mud as he drags mine.

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