Getting a “Canter taser”

I was at the iLike party table that Marc Canter was at. Where Kara Swisher commented about needing a Marc Canter “taser” which was in response to Marc’s interruption of a little presentation at the iLike party. Here’s Marc’s recollection.

Marc asked an interesting question, but I remember feeling weird because of the timing.

To understand the tension I’m avoiding, go read Tantek’s post on “the importance of being nice.”

The question of the moment: to be nice or to ask the question?

Not to mention that Marc’s question (about whether iLike was going to be on platforms other than Facebook) got to strategy and was awkward because there were Facebook co-founders and employees in the audience. Strategic alliances are made and lost during events like these. I remember the times when my boss got yelled at by Microsoft because he started a Java magazine.

Cringe, cringe, cringe.

As to the journalists at the table. Getting access to things is their lifeblood. It isn’t lost on me that I don’t get invited to certain things because I don’t play by certain PR rules either (one guy told me he stopped inviting me because I recorded other guests who complained to him). It does make one very careful about when and where to break the unwritten rules.

To ask the question or to be nice?

Which one would you do?

Oh, and if you haven’t seen my hour-long interview with Marc, you get to see his personality up close and personal.

Me? If I ever do plan an event I’ll get back at Marc. I’ll put him on stage where you all can ask him tough questions.

39 thoughts on “Getting a “Canter taser”

  1. It is Wednesday afternoon as I land at Narita airport, some 13. 5 hours of flight- time from my departure city of Dallas, yet an entire day later as I cross the International Date Line. This is my 46 th flight to Tokyo, but I approach it with a new sense of energy and wonder. The purpose of this Asia tour is to meet with our alumni, companies, other universities and friends to strengthen the bond uniting our university and graduate school to a dynamic and important group of people and institutions. …

  2. It is Wednesday afternoon as I land at Narita airport, some 13. 5 hours of flight- time from my departure city of Dallas, yet an entire day later as I cross the International Date Line. This is my 46 th flight to Tokyo, but I approach it with a new sense of energy and wonder. The purpose of this Asia tour is to meet with our alumni, companies, other universities and friends to strengthen the bond uniting our university and graduate school to a dynamic and important group of people and institutions. …

  3. ‘Being nice’ v. asking tough questions is a false dichotomy. Violating social norms (and bugging the crap out of your supposed interlocutors) isn’t going to score any points. I know people fancy themselves as swashbuckling rogues who speak truth to power, but that’s not how it plays to the world at large. Trolling is desperate and boorish. Making valid, lapel-grabbing points is awesome. Bullying your way into discussion, not so much.

    Don’t feed the trolls is a great little rule to live by. Let them do their thing and attract their own kind. You needn’t take the bait.

  4. ‘Being nice’ v. asking tough questions is a false dichotomy. Violating social norms (and bugging the crap out of your supposed interlocutors) isn’t going to score any points. I know people fancy themselves as swashbuckling rogues who speak truth to power, but that’s not how it plays to the world at large. Trolling is desperate and boorish. Making valid, lapel-grabbing points is awesome. Bullying your way into discussion, not so much.

    Don’t feed the trolls is a great little rule to live by. Let them do their thing and attract their own kind. You needn’t take the bait.

  5. “In the meantime, thanks to all the social web technologies at our disposal, perhaps for the first time in history, people that are capable, humble, and nice can find each other in such numbers as to prioritize and focus their energies on each other rather than the emotional vampires that would otherwise sap them and drag them and their projects, companies etc. down with them.”

    Oh, I have to return to blogging to write about this.

  6. “In the meantime, thanks to all the social web technologies at our disposal, perhaps for the first time in history, people that are capable, humble, and nice can find each other in such numbers as to prioritize and focus their energies on each other rather than the emotional vampires that would otherwise sap them and drag them and their projects, companies etc. down with them.”

    Oh, I have to return to blogging to write about this.

  7. As I wrote the above comment on my blackberry, here are the citations.

    Re: myself and David Sifry:
    http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2007/08/whatever-happened-to-tagging

    Re: Hugh Forrest
    http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2007/01/hey-hugh-thanks-for-the-comment
    Ironically, that post claims to show a “photo from the party here in SF” which was actually taken at the 2006 SXSW conference in Austin which would have been obvious had Marc linked to the original photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/114548799/
    and respected JD Lasica’s intellectual property by properly attribution as required by the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license that JD put on the photo.

    That’s enough on this thread. If anyone wants to find more they can easily do so using various web and blog search tools and services.

    Back to prioritizing and focusing on nice people.

  8. As I wrote the above comment on my blackberry, here are the citations.

    Re: myself and David Sifry:
    http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2007/08/whatever-happened-to-tagging

    Re: Hugh Forrest
    http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2007/01/hey-hugh-thanks-for-the-comment
    Ironically, that post claims to show a “photo from the party here in SF” which was actually taken at the 2006 SXSW conference in Austin which would have been obvious had Marc linked to the original photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/114548799/
    and respected JD Lasica’s intellectual property by properly attribution as required by the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license that JD put on the photo.

    That’s enough on this thread. If anyone wants to find more they can easily do so using various web and blog search tools and services.

    Back to prioritizing and focusing on nice people.

  9. Thanks Robert. To be fair, it was your example, and Kathy Sierra’s followup article on being nice and avoiding angry/negative people who are bad for you which has continuously inspired me.

    As far as Marc’s comments, I have no explanation for his continued personal ad hominem attacks on me and others (like his recent personal attack on his blog on my former boss and still good colleague David Sifry, or his past attacks on well respect SXSW conference organizer Hugh Forrest) as Marc illustrates here in the comments above and regularly on his blog (just search his blog for mentions of my name or microformats if you need confirmation).

    As far as disagreeing with me on microformats, plenty of people do. I’m only human and certainly make my share of mistakes, which plenty of people correct (thankfully), which you can see by viewing the *open* archives of both the #microformats irc channel, the microformats.org wiki and the microformats-discuss mailing list (in stark contrast to the defunct “structured blogging” email list run by Marc which has had closed archives unavailable to search engines from the beginning).

    It’s too bad because behind the immature behaviors, from the rest of his prolific writings over the years, clearly Marc’s heart is in the right place as far as pushing for open standards, platforms, APIs, and questioning those who push or support silos and closed systems. For that reason I will keep hoping to see improvement in his behavior, which IMHO could improve his effectiveness by 10x or more.

    In the meantime, thanks to all the social web technologies at our disposal, perhaps for the first time in history, people that are capable, humble, and nice can find each other in such numbers as to prioritize and focus their energies on each other rather than the emotional vampires that would otherwise sap them and drag them and their projects, companies etc. down with them.

    Robert, I think the time has come to take a stand here, for a higher level of more civil, more mature, and frankly more respectful dialog whether in person, email, blogs, comments or any other medium. And the reason is not moral, nor political, but economical. We will all simply get more done, faster, and happier by doing so.* This doesn’t mean avoiding or even stifling criticism – on the contrary it means encouraging and even soliciting objective respectful critiques, based on scientific methods of inquiry, and admitting to mistakes and correcting them as quickly as possible (see Jason Calacanis’s recent posts on the virtues of quick admission and correction).

    Simultaneously, we must discourage those who act unprofessionally (e.g. ad hominem attacks or other communications unbecoming of adults), consider them no better than any other online trolls, and deny them forums (whether online like blogs or in person like conferences) for their poisonous effects on open dialog and scientific discourse until they learn how to be nice, regardless of their industry stature.

    Thanks,

    Tantek

    *This video of a presentation made at Google titled “How to Protect Your Open Source Project From Poisonous People” is a must view on this topic:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4216011961522818645

  10. Thanks Robert. To be fair, it was your example, and Kathy Sierra’s followup article on being nice and avoiding angry/negative people who are bad for you which has continuously inspired me.

    As far as Marc’s comments, I have no explanation for his continued personal ad hominem attacks on me and others (like his recent personal attack on his blog on my former boss and still good colleague David Sifry, or his past attacks on well respect SXSW conference organizer Hugh Forrest) as Marc illustrates here in the comments above and regularly on his blog (just search his blog for mentions of my name or microformats if you need confirmation).

    As far as disagreeing with me on microformats, plenty of people do. I’m only human and certainly make my share of mistakes, which plenty of people correct (thankfully), which you can see by viewing the *open* archives of both the #microformats irc channel, the microformats.org wiki and the microformats-discuss mailing list (in stark contrast to the defunct “structured blogging” email list run by Marc which has had closed archives unavailable to search engines from the beginning).

    It’s too bad because behind the immature behaviors, from the rest of his prolific writings over the years, clearly Marc’s heart is in the right place as far as pushing for open standards, platforms, APIs, and questioning those who push or support silos and closed systems. For that reason I will keep hoping to see improvement in his behavior, which IMHO could improve his effectiveness by 10x or more.

    In the meantime, thanks to all the social web technologies at our disposal, perhaps for the first time in history, people that are capable, humble, and nice can find each other in such numbers as to prioritize and focus their energies on each other rather than the emotional vampires that would otherwise sap them and drag them and their projects, companies etc. down with them.

    Robert, I think the time has come to take a stand here, for a higher level of more civil, more mature, and frankly more respectful dialog whether in person, email, blogs, comments or any other medium. And the reason is not moral, nor political, but economical. We will all simply get more done, faster, and happier by doing so.* This doesn’t mean avoiding or even stifling criticism – on the contrary it means encouraging and even soliciting objective respectful critiques, based on scientific methods of inquiry, and admitting to mistakes and correcting them as quickly as possible (see Jason Calacanis’s recent posts on the virtues of quick admission and correction).

    Simultaneously, we must discourage those who act unprofessionally (e.g. ad hominem attacks or other communications unbecoming of adults), consider them no better than any other online trolls, and deny them forums (whether online like blogs or in person like conferences) for their poisonous effects on open dialog and scientific discourse until they learn how to be nice, regardless of their industry stature.

    Thanks,

    Tantek

    *This video of a presentation made at Google titled “How to Protect Your Open Source Project From Poisonous People” is a must view on this topic:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4216011961522818645

  11. While I’ve done my share of ‘interruptions’ in the past but I now think web allows us to ‘interrupt’ without violating socially-correct ways. Marc could have just let Kara and guests do their thing then blogged his points later (there is something irksome about blogging disputes live). This way Kara doesn’t have to reach for a taser and Marc will get invitations.

    Meanwhile, I think being ‘nice’ should means being nice to Marc as well.

  12. While I’ve done my share of ‘interruptions’ in the past but I now think web allows us to ‘interrupt’ without violating socially-correct ways. Marc could have just let Kara and guests do their thing then blogged his points later (there is something irksome about blogging disputes live). This way Kara doesn’t have to reach for a taser and Marc will get invitations.

    Meanwhile, I think being ‘nice’ should means being nice to Marc as well.

  13. From what I heard, Marc Canter was not even on the actual guest list for the iLike private party!

    Also the “presentation” he interrupted was not a long speech at a conference, but a 3-minute toast at a dinner.

    These details should factor in when considering whether something is appropriate or not.

    Everybody in attendance agreed that Canter’s interruption was totally inappropriate — and that’s before we even realized he wasn’t invited in the first place.

  14. From what I heard, Marc Canter was not even on the actual guest list for the iLike private party!

    Also the “presentation” he interrupted was not a long speech at a conference, but a 3-minute toast at a dinner.

    These details should factor in when considering whether something is appropriate or not.

    Everybody in attendance agreed that Canter’s interruption was totally inappropriate — and that’s before we even realized he wasn’t invited in the first place.

  15. Who dictates “nice” in blogs? There are people that wear their “niceness” as a badge of honor, but really are not that nice behind the scenes.

    It’s more about timing rather than being nice.

  16. Who dictates “nice” in blogs? There are people that wear their “niceness” as a badge of honor, but really are not that nice behind the scenes.

    It’s more about timing rather than being nice.

  17. For those of us who were there, Marc’s question was legitimate. But his timing was awful! The iLike guys were great, it was a lovely party, they were celebrating their success, their team, their guests and the evening. All Marc had to do was wait for them to finish, and then ask if could ask a question. I doubt anyone would have objected in any way.

    My take was that Kara’s comment was not about the question, but the fact that Marc interupted the guys who built iLike, were thanking everyone and to the best I can tell are enjoying some great success.

    When I told Robert to write about the table, it was also because we had a great time talking with a group of top notch people. Writers who work hard, write for first class traditional media organizations, and while I don’t always agree with what they write, they all work hard, and always treated me with nothing but respect.

    It was an honor and delight to be at the party.

    It seems to me that there is a real important synergy between the press, those who build companies and products, and those who put on conferences. We all need each other. No body forces you to build a company/product, pitch the press, or go to a conference.

    But if you want to enjoy enjoy the kind of success the iLike guys enjoying, it probably will pay to figure out the formula that works, and treat people the way you want to be treated.

  18. For those of us who were there, Marc’s question was legitimate. But his timing was awful! The iLike guys were great, it was a lovely party, they were celebrating their success, their team, their guests and the evening. All Marc had to do was wait for them to finish, and then ask if could ask a question. I doubt anyone would have objected in any way.

    My take was that Kara’s comment was not about the question, but the fact that Marc interupted the guys who built iLike, were thanking everyone and to the best I can tell are enjoying some great success.

    When I told Robert to write about the table, it was also because we had a great time talking with a group of top notch people. Writers who work hard, write for first class traditional media organizations, and while I don’t always agree with what they write, they all work hard, and always treated me with nothing but respect.

    It was an honor and delight to be at the party.

    It seems to me that there is a real important synergy between the press, those who build companies and products, and those who put on conferences. We all need each other. No body forces you to build a company/product, pitch the press, or go to a conference.

    But if you want to enjoy enjoy the kind of success the iLike guys enjoying, it probably will pay to figure out the formula that works, and treat people the way you want to be treated.

  19. I, for one, am glad that there are people like Marc, especially at this really odd moment in Silicon Valley, as lots of adults who should know better and should have ready access to their memories of the days before the web, are allowing themselves to be hypnotized by Facebook’s cynical re-invention of the word “open” to refer to their creation of a proprietary Web OS, in which they are the owner of user data and the sole determinant of the rules of engagement between developers and users. Marc, please keep asking the hard questions!

  20. I, for one, am glad that there are people like Marc, especially at this really odd moment in Silicon Valley, as lots of adults who should know better and should have ready access to their memories of the days before the web, are allowing themselves to be hypnotized by Facebook’s cynical re-invention of the word “open” to refer to their creation of a proprietary Web OS, in which they are the owner of user data and the sole determinant of the rules of engagement between developers and users. Marc, please keep asking the hard questions!

  21. I read Marc’s post and I have no idea what the answer to his question was. And if you’re in the business of getting answers, asking something in a way which guarantees you won’t get an answer isn’t all that positive.

    In other words, as Dave Winer found out recently, yelling from the back of an audience in the middle of a presentation is probably the least likely way of getting an answer. But it’s great for getting lots of attention for *you*.

  22. I read Marc’s post and I have no idea what the answer to his question was. And if you’re in the business of getting answers, asking something in a way which guarantees you won’t get an answer isn’t all that positive.

    In other words, as Dave Winer found out recently, yelling from the back of an audience in the middle of a presentation is probably the least likely way of getting an answer. But it’s great for getting lots of attention for *you*.

  23. You’re right – I could be nicer.

    But Tantek of all people shouldn’t brag about being nice – as he’s rewritten the book on back-stabbing, back of the house political game playing. He may say he’s nice to your face, but go ask someone who has disagreed with him on microformats how Tantek plays nice?

    Anyway clearly I’m not banking on doing business with Facebook or iLike or worrying about getting invited to Kara’s conference or even being videotaped by Kara.

    To be an independent means you have to sink or swim on your own and NOT be beholden to others.

    But I did like meeting Zukerberg – who says I’m one of his heroes – so he must like my style – even if I’m bitching about his TOS!! But I doubt he’ll invite me in or listen to me.

  24. You’re right – I could be nicer.

    But Tantek of all people shouldn’t brag about being nice – as he’s rewritten the book on back-stabbing, back of the house political game playing. He may say he’s nice to your face, but go ask someone who has disagreed with him on microformats how Tantek plays nice?

    Anyway clearly I’m not banking on doing business with Facebook or iLike or worrying about getting invited to Kara’s conference or even being videotaped by Kara.

    To be an independent means you have to sink or swim on your own and NOT be beholden to others.

    But I did like meeting Zukerberg – who says I’m one of his heroes – so he must like my style – even if I’m bitching about his TOS!! But I doubt he’ll invite me in or listen to me.

  25. jamie: heheh!

    Buzz Bruggeman, who was also at that table, turned to me during the party and said “you MUST write about this table.”

    I remember feeling uncomfortable about that, too. I was just there to eat the ice cream and drink the wine.

  26. jamie: heheh!

    Buzz Bruggeman, who was also at that table, turned to me during the party and said “you MUST write about this table.”

    I remember feeling uncomfortable about that, too. I was just there to eat the ice cream and drink the wine.

  27. that opening sentence remindered me of Little Britain.

    “yes, but,no,but, I was at the iLike party table that Marc Canter was at. Where Kara Swisher commented about needing a Marc Canter “taser” which was in response to Marc’s interruption of a little presentation at the iLike party.
    ;)

  28. that opening sentence remindered me of Little Britain.

    “yes, but,no,but, I was at the iLike party table that Marc Canter was at. Where Kara Swisher commented about needing a Marc Canter “taser” which was in response to Marc’s interruption of a little presentation at the iLike party.
    ;)

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