Anil Dash on Readability and Instapaper

Anil Dash, over the weekend, regarding my calling Readability “scumbags”:

A few people have asked why I say John’s being a “bully” here. There are a few aspects, mostly related to his unique place in the Apple/iOS media realm. First, because he routes so much attention through his links, lesser blogs will compete to restate his opinions (such as criticizing Readability) ever more pointedly, in hopes of earning a link. This is already taking a place.

I think that’s a deeply cynical perspective. I suspect most people joining in my criticism of Readability’s practices are doing so simply because they disagree with Readability’s practices, not because they think I’m going to link to them. It seems beyond Dash’s ken that there are many of us who feel the same way. If it seems as though there’s a bit of piling on in the wake of my brief but sharp criticism, perhaps it’s because a lot of people were in a sort of “Hmm, am I the only one who thinks these guys are doing some sketchy stuff?” emperor-has-no-clothes situation. Even I didn’t break out the guns until A.T. Faust published his detailed critique of Readability’s shared-links-point-back-to-their-own-hosted-copy behavior.

More broadly, instead of conceding that he merely has one of the possible positions on Readability’s publisher program, he encourages his Twitter followers to believe that Jeffrey Zeldman and I are motivated by a greed we’re attempting to hide from people rather than that we come about our opinions honestly.

All I did was point out that Dash and Zeldman are Readability shareholders and advisory board members, which I believe to be relevant. It’s about perspective, not motivation. I do not believe either Zeldman or Dash are involved with Readability for the money; I think they’re involved because they genuinely believe in Readability’s stated ideals. I simply think they’re wrong.

That’s not to say that folks like John and Merlin aren’t sincere in their reasons for supporting Instapaper and criticizing Readability — I think the points they use to back up their arguments are their honest beliefs. But their motivations? It’s their wonderful, horrible personal loyalty.

“Wonderful, horrible personal loyalty” is a splendid turn of phrase, and — I’m self-aware enough to realize — apt. And indeed, Marco Arment is a dear friend. But I didn’t mention Instapaper at all in this discussion, and if Marco were to fold up shop and retire tomorrow, it wouldn’t change a bit of my criticism regarding Readability. It’s Dash and some of Readability’s other defenders who keep bringing up Instapaper.

Monday, 2 April 2012