Just listened to Daily Source Code #290, and it really demonstrated the good and bad sides of the internet community.
On the one hand, you’ve got the fantastic “Podsafe for Peace” christmas song, for which 96(!) different artists sent in contributions. I really like the end result – it’s a great festive song imho. It’s entirely ‘podsafe’, which means that anybody can play it on a podcast without paying royalties. It’ll be available to purchase very soon, hopefully on iTunes amongst other places. All proceeds are going to UNICEF.
I thought that was great. People have put a huge amount of work into something created almost entirely to increase other people’s happiness. It’ll also help publicise podcasting and independent music in general. The song just premiered on DSC last night, and I’ll post a link once it’s online and listenable. EDIT: It’s now up on the Podsafe Music Network.
Then, though, there’s the massive debacle over DSC presenter Adam Curry and Wikipedia. On Wednesday’s show Adam said that the Wikipedia podcasting entry wasn’t entirely correct in that he and Dave Winer were barely mentioned. Later that day the entry changed and a couple of paragraphs disappeared. Somebody traced the changes back to Adam’s IP, and all hell broke loose. Digg and countless blogs have viciously attacked him, claiming that he’s “anonymously editing the podcasting entry on Wikipedia to remove credit from other people and inflate his role in its creation”. I came across this independently, and there’s some pretty nasty stuff out there.
On today’s show Adam admits that “after about 20 minutes of trying to figure out the interface of the editing system I became exasperated and gave up.” So I just looked at the differences, and it seems to come down to the re-working of one sentence1. You could interpret the sentence as inflating his own role, but it’s rather a stretch. There’s far more he could have changed if he wanted to do that! Reading between the lines of the show, I think he wanted to clarify the description much more, but the wiki syntax caused problems and he stopped. There’s no evidence of malicious intent here, it’s all assumed.
Did anybody ask him what had happened? Or did they just assume, then watch as people jumped onto the bandwagon? His celebrity status made him an easy target, and people got in line to hurl insults at anything they could think of2. The ip database unfortunately put his mobile phone number online for all to see, so I bet he’s had a few calls too. It quickly descended into personal attacks, and is all pretty pathetic. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory springs to mind. It seems that if you’re passionate about anything, you need to develop a thick skin. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, there’ll be plenty of people out there willing to tear you down.
So on the one hand we’ve got people who altrustically got together to create a song, and on the other a bunch of sarcastic losers. They may be fewer in number, but at least one group can say they were part of something decent, and useful.