Dave Winer’s strong words to Blake Ross @ Gnomedex 6.0
There was some pretty heated feedback from Dave Winer to Blake Ross after Blake talked about Firefox at Gnomedex 6.0.
Blake started by saying that people are likely to ask about the amount of memory Firefox consumes, and that they already know about it and are working on that issue — so no need to bring it up during Q&A.
Blake expressed that he wanted the focus of his talk to be about the way Firefox grew in the community. During the talk he spoke about how a grass roots community was created and worked. They created logos, flyers, and effectively got the word out.
I saw the first hand effect of this community because my wife came home after working at the local library. Everyone that worked there was talking about how important it was to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. I was curious on why and the focus was on: a) the tabbed feature and b) perception that security was better in firefox. (I won’t touch the security issue, that would deserve it’s own blog post. Not simple…)
His entire talk was about the efforts of the community to grow the user base. He then showed this video as one of the many used by the community.
Steve Gillmor gave strong feedback at this point. Here is my interpretation…
#1 Steve Gillmor did not like the approach of going negative and growing the user base by using the bashing technique.
#2 Steve’s wanted to know why community communication didn’t focus on what makes Firefox a better product.
At various points in the talk Blake didn’t want to talk about features of Firefox but wanted to focus on the work of the community to grow the user base.
Steve asked what new features will be included in future versions and Blake said he didn’t want the talk to focus the product and rather the community. Steve said Blake should be listening to the people at Gnomedex to receive the user feedback on the product.
I think half of the disagreement was confusion about why Blake narrowed his talk. Blake later explained on his blog why and how he narrowed the conversation.
I believe the other half of the feedback was a preference to not go negative. Instead, the focus of communication with end users should be on the specific product benefits.
Full Disclosure: I work at Microsoft. I no longer work on IE but did during IE v3 thru v5.5, and I have many friends working on v7. Even so, I always try to be as impartial on the subject as possible.