There’s a blogsphere argument going on between my two favourite bloggers, Jason Calacanis and Dave Winer.
Jason Calacanis recently started Mahalo (a human powered search engine) which I wrote about here. Dave Winer is heckling/critisising Mahalo in a manner very similar to one of my blog posts from a couple of weeks… which I reproduce in part here (these are my comments):
Mahalo feels like a ’someone is playing the game’ site. It feels like the ‘force’ behind the site is not someone who is really interested in helping me find what I’m looking for. It feels like there’s someone who is smart, capable and has some cash behind them, and is trying to ‘hedge their bets’ on the ‘next big thing’. Mahalo.com is not about me finding what I want, it is about an entrepreneur attempting to pre-empt the next big thing…. which is obviously human powered search results.
Dave Winer is not excited by Mahalo (as neither am I) because he cant play with it, he cant leverage it to explore some new angle. Jason says a public API is in the works, and yes, that’s definately goingto up the excitement.
But there is more to be said about all this. There is an inherent conflict between Jason Calacanis and Mahalo. You can smell it… especially if you read Jason’s blog.
Let me explain.
Jason’s blogging is a creative act…. and he does it very well, he is a ‘blog’ artist (as I think Dave is as well)… Take a look at his ‘link Baiting‘ tangent. It was clever, creative, communicative, playful and showed a very good understanding of the mechanical dynamics of the blogosphere. Or follow his ‘fat blogging‘ adventures, where he began a much followed tactic of publically communicating his weight/dieting practises. Jason is a ‘blog artist’, and like all good artists (who are always good communicators), he can rally the masses and inspire followers / other artists to join him on his explorative adventures. His interviews are great.
I dont think Jason is an entrepreneur … I think he is a communicator.
When Mahalo launched, anyone who has an incling of intelligence knew that it wasn’t inspired by Jason the artist, it was inspired by Jason the ambitious. Mahalo doesn’t have Jason’s playfulness in it.. rather it has Jason’s intellectualised ambition in it.
Then Jason started blogging about Mahalo … it wasn’t Jason the artist, it was Jason the marketer… I knew he wasn’t informing me or talking to me anymore, he was advertising to me, but what’s worse is that he was advertising to me as though he thought I didn’t know he was advertising. It would be like Picasso doing a painting with a can of coke in there for Product Placement. We can see the can of coke! Jason, I know you are hyping me up about Mahalo… but I aint hyped!
I felt a little bit deceived when Jason started blogging about Mahalo.
But what I do like about Jasons’ angle (other than his creative artistry) is that he puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of ‘monetising’. One thing I am learning fast is that you can not continue without financial sustenance…. and you have to find some way of pulling in cash to keep the adventure going. Mahalo, however, is not about Jason pulling in cash to keep going, its for Jason to pull himself up to the perceived heights of the successful entrepreneurs like the youtube kids.
Funny thing is I have far more respect for Dave Winer than I do for the youtube guys or the twitter guys. In fact I have more respect for Jason Calacanis that I do for the twitter people or Kevin Rose …
I dont think that Jason has yet found that zen garden that Dave Winer has found. Dave Winer just goes with it…. Dave is to Internet Technologies what Miles Davis is to Jazz, he’ll move with whatever is playing around him, hell listen to what’s going on, he’ll launch on a tangent, and die a natural death and then move on. Dave wont thrash around .. he’ll just appear and dis-appear … pop up, play, explore… if somethign works, he’ll keep on it … when something reaches a dead end, he’ll let it go.
Jason COULD do that. He almost did with fat blogging… I would have loved for Mahalo to be about fat blogging, or some organic tangent from fat blogging… (maybe not about fat blogging at all but some tangent derived from the fat blogging movement).
Now I’ve inspired myself to look at ambisonia.com more loosely… what would I do next if I was Dave Winer? (or Jason when not trying to be the ‘next big thing’).