I’m not a big fan of Internet soap operas or gossip in general, although I do find the odd Valleywag headline quite amusing. In any case, there comes a time when a soap opera deals with real issues and real people. On rare occasions, respected individuals cross the line and push the boundaries. Only at this point do I feel the need to participate in the discussion and articulate my views.
This weekend I attended Gnomedex 2007 in Seattle. Friday evening Jason Calacanis stepped onto the stage and began speaking about Internet spam and disorder. His thoughts and insights were valuable and much appreciated. Having said that, he began promoting his new venture, Mahalo, half way through his presentation. This caused quite a stir among the audience, myself including. Gnomedex presentations are meant to spur discussions and conversations around trends, standards, principles, ideas, and concepts - not specific companies. In other words, this wasn’t the right time and/or place to engage in such an act. Dave Winer called it “conference spam”. I would have to agree with him. So did everyone else I spoke with.
With all due respect, this isn’t the first time I have disagreed with the actions of a so-called A-lister. Late last year, Jeff Pulver pulled a similar stunt that really pissed me off and left me questioning his credibility.
Both Jeff and Jason are well-known individuals with remarkable track records. They are admired among many, and regarded as pioneers in their respective fields. That is why it is so befuddling and perplexing when situations like these arise. These guys should know better. Suspect intentions and profit-seeking motives often get the best of everyone. Perhaps it was their turn.
The subsequent series of events from this episode on stage caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. Jason Calacanis was very upset by the backlash, most notably from Dave Winer - although I felt it was deserved. Dave Winer further expressed his views, only to apologize later. Aaron Brazell of Technosailor expressed his frustration with the whole situation, while Loren Feldman brought some humour to the ordeal.
Let me say this: I do not dislike Calacanis. I was actually looking forward to meeting him, even after this on-stage episode. I think that he is a smart guy with some smart things to say. However, he is living in a prominent role and must watch what he says sometimes. In this case, I disagreed with the way he went about presenting and/or promoting Mahalo. In the future, I think he needs to consider the consequences of his actions before acting upon them. Nevertheless, I wish him all the best with Mahalo and his future endeavours.