i didnt feel exactly complete about our coverage of the xeni/boingboing/violet controversy. dont get me wrong, we had solid posts; exclusive interviews with both violet and xeni, no one else had that. but i couldnt help feeling something was missing. in the past ive been accused of never being satisfied, id prefer to call it perfectionistism, and this wouldnt be the first time id have to plead guilty of it.
to be honest i wasnt sure that we had the whole story. not the salacious stuff, but answers to the questions about protocol and transparency and all the Web 2.0 junk that i care about. plus metafilter had over 1300 comments and the BB thread had almost that many and many of commentors had questions that i felt we hadnt fully explored in our posts.
today magically, unbelievably i got an email telling me about, and then inviting me to, a conference call with xeni, a few other boing boingers and federated media chief john battelle. we talked for what must have been over an hour. and these are some excerpts of the two posts david sarno published today on the LAT blog Web Scout:
Xeni Jardin: When I decided to unpublish these posts — and I did that — it wasn’t like there was a policy or practice in place where we would all confer with each other before we posted something, so I didn’t confer with all of my editors before taking it down.
Did you think people wouldn’t notice, or if they did notice, that they wouldn’t care?
XJ: God, I don’t know if I really thought through all of that. I just really didn’t. It’s hard for me to articulate exactly how weird this is. Suddenly it became this big huge thing with all this public scrutiny and all this speculation. But at the time I just wanted to take this material down for a host of reasons that I don’t want to talk about in public because I don’t think it would do this person any good. We don’t blog in detail about every minute decision we make about what to publish and what not to.
…There wasn’t an attempt to hide it. And I didn’t bring it up again in part because it involved some personal, private stuff that I don’t tend to get into. Like whether someone’s character is this or that, or whatever kind of personal dirty laundry was involved.
Regarding the decision to remove:
XJ: My biological father who died when I was a kid was a painter and a print maker. He went through different phases in his creative work. A lot of what he did was paint very beautiful photorealistic portraits of nude women. Sometimes he went off into experimental territory that he was embarrassed about… sometimes he would just grab batches of the stuff that was crappy as years went on, and go to the backyard and burn it. And it wasn’t that he was censoring himself, and God knows nobody else was censoring him. It was that this was his creative work. This was art. And he felt like some of it wasn’t representative of who he was anymore and he didn’t want it to be available to the world to see.
That’s how I felt with this situation.
John Battelle: Isn’t it also the right of the person who put it up to take it down? If you were truly the owner, I think one could argue unequivocally that you had that right. The question is: Do you damage the community in doing so? And are those rights involved in that damage more important than the rights of the creator? That’s exactly the essence of what we want to come to an understanding about.
i think we might get one more part of the interview posted to the blog. so stay tuned. (or am i still being annoyingly unsatisfied?)
photo of Xeni by Clayton Cubitt via Xeni’s flickr