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Six Apart chief's 'nice' speech ends in name-calling

From blogfest to slugfest

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Les Blogs The second LesBlogs geekfest in Paris saw Six Apart’s oh-so-nice president, Mena Trott, taking bloggers to task for incivility.

Having let the genie out of the bottle by providing over ten million people with the tools to blog, she now appeared to be trying to stuff it back in again.

She admitted to being nervous about delivering this particular keynote speech. And she sounded it. Little wonder, really, since she was about to irritate a goodly chunk of the three hundred plus audience. And some of them were about to irritate her. Big time.

She’d barely started when the comments started to fly across the IRC back-channel. Mercifully for Trott, these comments were not displayed for all to see as they had been for other speakers. Well, not until it got interesting. She doesn’t like the sensationalism of either the mainstream media or the blogosphere. The “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality. Excuse me? Which planet is she from? As every rookie journalist knows, “Small fire in Scotland, no-one hurt” will never get published. By bloggers or anyone else.

Back-slapping, back-channel, backbiting

She’d like to think that bloggers can be different, that they could change to all be “so darned nice” and that this would automatically lead to positive stories that will bring more people into blogging. Yeah right. Not in Britain they won’t and, I suspect, not in many other countries either. Maybe California is different. (And we mustn’t forget that more bloggers equals more revenue for Trott’s company.)

Specifically, she didn’t like people who say nasty things behind people’s backs yet are pleasant face to face. She coined the term “two-facedness” to describe it. She is disappointed that some people are so different to their online personalities.

Shel Israel, co-author of ‘Naked Conversations’ with M$ A-list blogger Robert Scoble, praised Trott for raising the issue. He then tried to get a vote from the audience on who they supported. The request was greeted with derision. Okay, some of us laughed, others groaned. Either way, it meant ‘bugger off.’

Calling dotBen

At this point in the proceedings the backchannel was on display. A “this is bullshit” comment from a backchanneler called ‘dotBen’ tipped Trott over the edge. “dotBen. Who’s dotBen?” demanded Trott. To a collective gasp, he promptly stood up and identified himself.

“All day yesterday you’ve been an arsehole,” said Trott, spluttering and stumbling her way to “why the fuck?”

Oo’er.

To her face, ‘dotBen’ then accused Trott of delivering a patronising speech. She asked him what he has against Six Apart. He suggested she learn to ‘roll with the punches.’ He said, “people will disagree with you. That’s life.” Turns out he was one Ben Metcalfe. You can read his account here.

For someone who demanded more civility, Trott somewhat blew it. Metcalfe at least concentrated on the content of the presentation. Trott went for a personal attack. At one point, she said “I don’t know who you are and what you’ve got against Six Apart.” The grand irony is that he is (was?) a Six Apart customer. ®

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