A Cure for the Summertime Blues

First Dave Winer highlights the one sentence in this blog that actually seemed to sound positive. You know, the angry old man, etc.
Written by Steve Gillmor, Contributor

First Dave Winer highlights the one sentence in this blog that actually seemed to sound positive. You know, the angry old man, etc. Then a spate of crap from the trolls highlighted by one Paul Montgomery, a Down Under journalist (his word) who slimes all US journalists on his way to getting at me (not a journalist.)

So Dan Farber, Dana Gardner, and Doc Searls record the latest (still another one in the can from last week) Gillmor Gang and the Usual Strategy breaks down big time. Instead of some witty banter and Office is Deadness, the whole thing becomes my indictment of Tim O'Reilly/CMP's Web 2.0 injunction and by extension Esther Dyson, Kevin Supernova, and the whole lousy business of tech conferences and the girls that don't attend them.

The mood turns quite turgid. Farber points out that I've gone too far, actually making some enemies in the process. I lamely try and explain that it's nothing personal, but of course it is and even Doc finally accuses me of trying to manipulate him into saying bad things. In retrospect, this might actually be a pretty good show.

But I don't like the bad taste in my mouth and after the show I IM Doc to say I fear the Gang has hit the wall. I call Doc and he basically agrees, saying he thought the show might have been going downhill since Udell quit, and that Arrington and Calacanis seemed to be a breath of fresh air.

Of course, Doc and I are viewing this through the long end of a telescope formed by our latest experimental project, a two-part Gillmor Daily that has already partly aired on Sirius and will hit the Net later today or tomorrow. At the end of the session, Doc coins its name: Attention Deficit Theatre. For a 10 minute run in Part II Doc is absolutely relentlessly hilarious. Kinda makes it hard to focus on Gillmor Ganglia.

Interestingly, I think you'll find that ADT resonates quite rightly with the Gangosphere, even this last deadly show. For me, having worked so hard with my compatriots to carve out a space where we can say what we really think without too much fear of the consequences, has allowed us to establish a contract with users that is all too rare in the current ClearChannelized media. Make no mistake: just because it's a podcast done with Radio Shack gear and slipstreamed around day jobs in most cases doesn't mean it has no economic clout or business model.

In fact, the Gillmor Gang is a floating offshore conference of its own, operating just outside the three-mile limit of paid vendor keynotes and nonconferences. What I liked about last year's Gnomedex and this year's Syndicate New York was that we were able to communicate without bending so far over to the entrenched business models of platform vendors or angel investors that our message was diluted beyond value.

But now we enter a cloudier period, the valley between Tony Perkins' OnHollywood conference--where the dynamics of convergence were laid out like a CSI autopsy--and the "Web 2.0" conference at summer's end--where John Battelle's fierce vision of search appears to be on a collision course with the gathering storm of attention and gestures. Last year at "Web 2.0" saw the first public board meeting of the AttentionTrust and the launch of the Attention Recorder. This year: I may not even get a press pass.

To be clear, I was scheduled to speak at this year's O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference on Gestures, the talk I ultimately gave at Syndicate. Rael Dornfest was persistent in offering a slot, and gracious if confused in accepting my pulling out with the excuse of not being ready. But behind the scenes, I was outraged by Daphne Kis' refusal to extend a gratis invitation to Esther Dyson's PC Forum that has been proferred as far as I know to every single person who has ever written an issue of Release 1.0, as I had done in launching the Attention bandwagon two years ago.

Given Esther's insistence in attributing the dawn of attention to Michael Goldhaber's earlier writing on the Attention Economy (not only at PC Forum but in the Wall Street Journal) and her mischaracterization of Doc Searl's work on intention (prompted by my nonpresence at the shows) in the Journal, I came to the reluctant but firm conclusion that little has changed for those few people who have guided the evolution of disruptive technologies through the careful administration of resources (money) and influence (credit.)

The emergence of RSS and its spawn podcasting, OPML, and attention have disrupted the gatekeepers of disruption economics. Given the low barrier to entry of startup/mashup economics, VCs no longer have a lock on the early stages of the value chain, putting pressure on angels and incubators to make their clout felt early enough to get a meaningful handle on the tiller. The conference game, long the mechanism whereby the VCs were schooled not in the technology but the viral marketing mechansims of startups, has been disrupted by hybrid agents TechCruch, Om Malik, Fred Wilson, and the acquisition bunnies from the majors such as Zawodny and perhaps Niall Kennedy in his new Microsoft role.

Given this balkanization around the rubric Attention Economy, I felt it made more sense to bow out of both PC Forum (uninvited) and ETech, and focus on a session under my (our) control in this new ecosystem around attention/gestures. Meanwhile Omidyar committed to some funding for the AttentionTrust, freeing me to shift my attention to GestureBank. Accordingly, Jeff Clavier's SearchSIG session at AOL became the opportunity for us (Seth Goldstein, Dave Sifry, Gabe Rivera, and Mike Arrington) to produce an unencumbered (and inclusive) conference of 1 on the aforementioned Attention Economy.

So how do we proceed through this Summer of Discontent? I know many of you are sick of my complaining about what is characterized by trolls as personal lack of attention. Certainly I am. But that's no excuse for abandoning a platform that we've worked so hard to develop, one on which we can leverage one of the few open channels for trustworthy communication in this new ecosystem of disruptive economics.

So: in the spirit of the recent network upfronts, the "demise" of The West Wing but its replacement with WestWing/Friends Washington-with-Beautiful-People mashup, and various other interesting gestures yet to be hinted at, The Gillmor Gang is going on hiatus, to be replaced for the summer by The Gillmor Gang Presents: Attention Deficit Theatre, starring Doc Searls, Jason Calacanis, Dan Farber, and whoever else remembers the phone number and passcode or uses Gmail. Enjoy your vacation while you can.

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