Now it seems the other shoe has dropped at Userland, and the rules have changed. Dave Winer is the founder of Userland (Userland is the company that makes Radio, a weblogging application) and is now a fellow at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center.
In June, Dave lamented that the New York Times had committed a grave error by taking their free archives away and instituting a pay-for-access scheme. Dave wrote:
This broke our achive too. Now not only can’t they be the news source of record on the Web, but in a single move, they erased the record they had already created, and we had come to depend on. That’s how powerful the technology of the Web is, and how fragile.
How fragile indeed. On Monday, Userland’s CEO John Robb abruptly left the company (I’d link to his post, but that’s part of the story; instead, read his brief post over in Feedster’s cache). John’s weblog — hosted at Userland’s servers — is now dead. Gone. Nothing but a default server response when you go to jrobb.userland.com.
This troubles me for a host of reasons — but by far the biggest reason is that I’m blogging because of John Robb. Three days, three separate queries — and each one led to John’s site. I wondered why — who was this guy who was getting such good Google placement? I sent him an e-mail, we talked on the phone for a half hour, and I wrote an article about the whole experience. That week I started my own weblog (ironically, that first effort was in Blogger, then I moved to Radio and now I’m using Movable Type).
Beyond the personal connection, this frustrates me because Dave Winer took a principled position on the NY Times issue (one I happen to agree with) — yet now he wishes John good luck while simultaneously taking down nearly five hundred pages worth of content. (Caveat: it’s possible, though doubtful, that someone other than Dave took this down. If you know differently than I, feel free to leave a comment.)
John — I hope you land on your feet (I’m confident you will). Let us know where you go!
Final lesson from this situation: never, ever blog at a domain that’s not owned by you. Don’t blog on your employer’s site, don’t blog on your blogging application’s site — make sure your blog lives (and stays!) on your own domain.