Six years ago, Dave Winer felt like he was wrongfully excluded from an O'Reilly "summit" on the newly emerging field of peer-to-peer programming:
David Stutz, Gene Kan, Ray Ozzie and Dan Gillmor were there. I wish I had been. I could learn a lot from each of them. Wouldn't you have wanted to hear what I think about P2P? I'm curious. Are you? If there are going to be more meetings like this, I want to be there. Ask Tim to explain why I'm not invited, and see if you accept the reason.
Peer-to-peer technology was so white hot back then that Michael Arrington is developing a time machine so he can go back and pimp it.
When some people asked O'Reilly about the snub, he explained:
... why didn't I invite Dave? I was looking for people who I thought would work well together in an unstructured way, without grand standing or insulting other participants if they happen to disagree. My experience in working with Dave is that you never know what you're going to get. He can be a great contributor, but he can also decide, for no apparent reason, that someone is somehow on "the other side," at which point he becomes disruptive and abusive.
I know Dave claims he doesn't like personal statements (except the ones he makes, of course), but he suggested that his readers ask, and you've done so. I've given Dave this feedback privately, and each time he's said it's inappropriate to tell him such things, that he believes his behavior is above reproach, and that I'm out of line for giving him any personal feedback.
When someone reserves for himself the right to "flame at will," and claims that his flames are only his quest for truth, in spite of feedback to the contrary from many people, he should expect that those people will not invite him to their meetings or discussions. I completely grant that Dave has the right to remain on the outside, to critique anyone he likes, and to crusade for whatever causes he believes in, but if he wants to be included in events that I organize, he'll have to behave more politely. He may consider that censorship; I consider it etiquette. No one disputes his right to his views -- in fact, we all still read him because his views and ideas are so interesting -- but I think he needs to recognize that his social habits will, from time to time, lead him to be left out of events and discussions to which he might otherwise be invited.
So, did my personal feelings about Dave (or more precisely, my personal experience working together with Dave in the past) influence my decision not to invite him? Absolutely.
A dam is about to break. There are a lot of people pissed at O'Reilly, every time you do another exclusive event, more people are getting angry. ... what I do want is to avoid a bloody mess ... We're not going to be able to keep a lid on it much longer, and it's better to let it out in a way where people know we're listening and we want to work with them.
I've been rightfully excluded from every technical conference since 1996, so I'm in a poor position to judge whether these peers should form a network. But if they don't, it may break the lid off the bloody dam of inclusiveness.
Perhaps we can draw some hope from an event that happened five years ago: Winer was invited to speak at O'Reilly's next peer-to-peer gathering:
A quick good morning from the O'Reilly P2P conference in San Francisco. ... Many thanks to Tim O'Reilly for putting on such an excellent conference.