This is why we can’t have nice things: TechCrunch

I stopped reading TechCrunch a while ago, so it wasn’t until I saw it mentioned on Loic’s blog recently that Michael Arrington annoyed me all over again, this time by crowing about a holiday video. At the risk of feeding the troll, I want to make it clear how stupid and utterly irritating Michael Arrington’s post about it is.

I watched and enjoyed the video yesterday afternoon. I’ll embed the YouTube version which TechCrunch links to, but I’ll warn you now that it’s already been taken down.

It depicts a group of young people on holiday together, in a large poolside villa. They’re lip-syncing to ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, in a surprisingly well-orchestrated performance. The original description of the video apparently said

“Twenty world Internet citizens met in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in October of 2008 for a week of reflections on life, love, and the Internet.”

Harmless and fun, right? Here’s what Michael Arrington, writing on TechCrunch, had to say about it on Friday:

…this went down at an unfortunate time for a score of Silicon Valley posterboys and girls as they partied 1999 style “the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in October of 2008 for a week of reflections on life, love, and the Internet.” They leave behind an absurd video that would have gone unnoticed a month ago. But this week, with the walls tumbling down, they look like a bunch of jackasses who have no idea what’s going on back at home.

I’ve personally got a lot of sympathy for the partyers. I’ve not heard of any of them, but it sounds like a bunch of people who are tech sector friends, taking a (probably much needed) week off and having a good time on their own money. At worst, it’s bad timing, but it’s not exactly the recent half-million dollar AIG retreat is it? I’m pleased they were able to take a holiday together, and I’m pleased they took time out of their vacation to entertain us with this amusing and well-executed video. Let’s not be puritanical or sanctimonious about it, eh?

We’ll look back in later years and think of this most recent boom as the Web 2.0 period, when we were wowed by the magic of user generated content, copyright violations on a massive scale, and neat little widgety things that used Javascript and Flash to turn web pages into pretty close equivalents to the old desktop apps.

Really? I like to think we’ll look back at the early years of the 21st century as a time when the web evolved into something participatory. Isn’t that, rather than technology or investment, what ‘Web 2.0’ is all about? Here’s Tim O’Reilly, explaining the term, in a video which lasts less than a minute.

Worst of all though, and a sentence which gets repeated in an even more unnecessary follow-up post pointing out that the video has now been made private but has sprung up on YouTube:

this video will always be associated with the end of Web 2.0.

Honestly, if Michael had thought to include a couple of extra words in that sentence, I might almost have agreed with him. This week is not “the end of Web 2.0”. If anything did just burst it’s the financial bubble which the Economist discusses as ‘Bubble 2.0‘. You can’t confuse that with Web 2.0 though. They’re different things. Is this really all Web 2.0 means to you, Michael? Were you not listening when you asked all those people what Web 2.0 means in that 24 minute long documentary you made on Web 2.0 in 2006? Some highlights from what they told you:

  • Web 2.0 is a marketing term, and a bubble is a financial event.
  • it’s people
  • empowering the little guy
  • users manipulating, interacting with, and sharing information
  • leveraging collective wisdom
  • openness
  • conversation, not a lecture
  • participants, not consumers

In short, Web 2.0 is an attitude, not a technology.

But back to the video. I watched it two, maybe three times yesterday. I enjoyed it. The original video on Vimeo had already been made private, so I was watching the ‘mirror’ on YouTube. Today, that the YouTube version has been taken down as a copyright infringement (“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.” initiated, I’m guessing, by the creators?). I’m disappointed that, unless you’ve already watched it or some other public backup of it exists somewhere, you can’t watch it to decide for yourself.

9 replies on “This is why we can’t have nice things: TechCrunch”

  1. Arrington is a parasitic dicksplash, responsible for contributing vast quantities of inert gas to the online discourse. In a more just and ordered world, he’d have gone on to a mediocre career in regional middle-marketing.

  2. Arrington is a wanker who likes to throw his weight around. Were it not for the fact that some people I like work for him, I’d very much like to see his entire business fall apart around his ears. As it is, I’d settle for him just shutting the fuck up.

  3. I saw this when it first surfaced and my impression was that it was just a fun vacation video. I have no idea how Arrington came to this conclusion. Hearing the Journey song though did make me sad and remember the last time I saw good old Tony Soprano!

  4. But Web 2.0 *is* dead. It died even before Arrington said it did. Can you point to a single service that is profitable and out of the woods? And whatever his own “wanker” status, he’s right to call out these party kids. They haven’t gotten the news of the recession yet. They will. People will not be buying or VCing their widgets.

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