YOUR NEUTRAL APOSTROPHES SICKEN ME

Some of us can best be understood through the model of organizing principles, rather after the manner in which Frances Urquhart sized people up in To Play the King. These principles tend to be distinguishable from any objective qualifications; they don’t make you better or worse at what you do for a living.

Molly E. Holzschlag is a person with organizing principles. She believes firmly in getting along and maintaining a happy ship. We have no gender-neutral variation of the phrase “peaceable kingdom,” yet that indeed is what she tries to maintain.

I expect Molly does not heartily object to the mild falsehood that Paul Festa wrote:

In March, [Robert] Scoble approached WaSP members, including Holzschlag, at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas.

Holzschlag initially rebuffed Scoble and his Microsoft colleagues. Soon after, Scoble complained about the snub in his blog. Holzschlag read Scoble’s blog, and in the blog’s comments section apologized. From there, she and Scoble began talking about ways WaSP and Microsoft could work together.

I apologize when I make a mistake and you’d better believe I don’t do it otherwise. It is among the least of my endearing qualities, surely, but it’s what I’ve got to work with. Molly’s approach is different. She had no reason to apologize: Scoble was trying to crash the party, to barge in on a private meeting of Web Standards Project leaders. Scoble is as unwelcome there as any uninvited outsider would be at, say, a Microsoft project meeting. Scoble had, and still has, no right whatsoever to expect to intrude into, and then of course report on, private meetings. (He acts otherwise: “WaSP turned me away from a meeting that they were holding in the middle of the SXSW conference hall… quickly and, I might say, rudely.” The tone of hurt would be more credible from another writer.)

Scoble has no standing whatsoever in this regard, and is unreservedly in the wrong. If I had tried to do the same thing, I would be just as wrong.

Yet Molly apologized anyway, because that’s what she does. The historical record, thanks to Festa, now shows this as a pivotal moment in collaborations between Microsoft and WaSP. How pivotal was this event, in actual fact? Molly had nothing to apologize for; Festa implies that she did. (Festa labels as a “snub” Molly’s refusal to let an interloper crash her own meeting.) A collaboration was inevitable anyway, and it took a mere three months before it was announced. Would it have taken six months otherwise? Probably not; there’s no way in hell that Chris Wilson would have permitted IE7 to go into beta without some kind of public collaboration. So maybe the announcement would have taken four months or maybe five, a difference that does not matter.

A collaboration between Microsoft and the Web Standards Project has a lot going for it, but Scoble’s whining about being excluded from a meeting of a group he never belonged to should not be regarded as actually important.

Consider the record corrected.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.08.05 11:19. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2005/08/05/snub/

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