There seems to be a new form of debate popping up on the web nowadays, in which people each armed with their own blog1 fire rhetorical salvos at one another. I already added my own little piece to the Paul Graham “Revenge of the Nerds” debate, which involves at least the following people/articles (and almost certainly many more):

Another war, in the same format, is brewing around shadow economies, corruption, and open source. Again, here’s a guaranteed-incomplete list of relevant people/articles:

  • As near as I can tell, it started with Joshua Allen’s Why I Don’t Love GPL article on March 23, in which he refers to the “exchange” of open-source reputation/karma/mojo (my words, not his) as a sort of shadow economy.2.
  • Later, Joshua followed up with this email about the hidden agendas and the believability of claims of alruism.
  • Wes Felter took exception to Joshua’s comments, with a tone that comes across as “I’m in, you’re out, neener neener neener” to me.
  • David McCusker >went totally ballistic over it3.

This thread is actually very interesting me, and I hope to weigh in myself when I have more time. I’m not sure if I agree with Joshua, but I find his ideas quite interesting and extremely well presented. There is a certain cliquishness in the open-source and P2P communities that I find disturbing even when I’m its beneficiary. Perhaps I’ll try to tie together Joshua’s ideas about the desirable explicitness of monetary exchange with other ideas such as the explicit reputation system of Advogato and/or David Brin’s ideas about transparency. It’s an interesting idea complex, and I suspect there’s more violent agreement here than people realize.

The previous thread actually branched off from another one, that started with Aaron Swartz’s Standards Manifesto on the www-talk mailing list and is in the process of leaping over into Blogistan. Raph Levien has already posted a lengthy response in his Advogato diary and (as with much of what Raph says) others are likely to follow suit.

1Like everyone else I hate the word, but in the absence of better words it seems to’ve gained sufficient acceptance to be considered part of the official jargon. In any case, typing “log/journal/diary/whatever” all the time was getting tiresome.

2Josh, most linkage is to current articles, not to stuff old enough to be in the archives; a way to link to a particular still-current article would be really nice.

3Dave, good job on the per-article links, but I for one would appreciate it if you’d follow Joey’s excellent example and move the IronDoc-specific stuff to a separate blog where its sheer technical tedium doesn’t drown out the other interesting things you have to say.