Shame on Who?

Being the object of strong opinions–and even conspiracy theories–is all part of the day’s work for companies (and people) who are part of the web’s open, fast-moving, and ultimately democratic culture. Usually, we let the wilder stories run their course, and we’ve found that the web community does a good job of fact-checking as well as opinion-sharing. No wonder Wikipedia works.

But in the past few days, a story has bubbled up that I want to acknowledge. Last Thursday, Daya Baran of Silicon Valley WebGuild posted Shame on You Tim O’Reilly, in which he asserts that O’Reilly asked Google to withdraw support for the WebGuild’s “Web 2.0 Conference & Expo” because we didn’t want the competition from his conference. Today, he included the post in his email newsletter to WebGuild members and I received a couple of inquiring emails from friends.

I’m not sure why Daya decided to bring this up now — I assume it’s an attempt to get publicity for his next gathering. Back on January 1, Michael Arrington first made the issue public in his post WebGuild Using Questionable Tactics To Promote Events (also see Silicon Alley Insider). We were, in fact, concerned that the name of the WebGuild event was so similar to ours. We tried to personally contact Daya many times (via email, phone calls and a certified letter), from October through December. He didn’t respond. For the record, we never asked (and we certainly didn’t demand) Google to withdraw support of WebGuild or its events.

So, a cordial exchange devolves, four months later, into public name-calling. This one will run its course, as they all do (for example we are now working with Tom Raftery of it@cork on the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin), but it seems a shame for all of us to spend time and energy on this when there are so many interesting and useful things more deserving of our attention.