Why I love Joe Clark (not that one, the other one)

I love my city, Toronto. The diversity, the creative vitality, the food, the people. Toronto to me feels like a place about to happen. But that’s also one of my complaints about the place, it seems like it’s perpetually about to happen, but it seems to fade just when it’s dreams appear closest to being realized. Toronto people are notoriously conflict averse, and criticism is often done in muted tones behind closed doors instead of in your face. Torontonians (and english Canadians generally) are the kings and queens of passive aggressiveness. This culture works against producing self-evident, vocal and proud greatness in many domains.

Then there’s Joe Clark. Joe Clark is a self-confessed curmudgeon and can be a total bitch sometimes. I had the pleasure of his critique at the first TorCamp event in the fall. He’s a tough critic, but smart, and totally not shy with his opinions. His critique was valid, well articulated and welcome. He’s an antidote to Toronto blandness, where crotchetiness is a lost art amongst all the polite civility. Joe Clark is Salieri in search of a worthy Mozart to be his foil. I don’t know if he’s found him yet, but apparently he’s taking issue with the mesh conference from a number of angles.

His points about a group that includes two journalist-bloggers inviting more journalist-bloggers to a conference about Web 2.0 may be valid. It’s a bit “inside the beltway” kind of stuff. To my mind blogging is a critical phenomenon of Web 2.0 (i.e. “The Social Web“) and worthy of particular emphasis by people that know their stuff. I won’t take a position on Clark’s web standards rant, being unqualified in these matters.

My recommendation to the mesh organizers is to listen to his criticism, because he probably has a point. But don’t get bent out of shape about. He’s just looking for Mozart, as are we all.

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