inessential by Brent Simmons

How the Sites Drawer Cost Me Some Publicity

This was years ago, and I haven’t thought about it in years.

NetNewsWire had a feature called the Sites Drawer — it was a big list of categories (Mac, Sports, Weblogs, etc.) and a bunch of feeds in each category. It made it easy to find feeds to subscribe to.

(The feature eventually got removed because it was a lot of work to maintain. Removing it was a mistake, however.)

Though Sheila and I have strong political and social views, we considered it a point of pride that the Sites Drawer had feeds that didn’t express our views. We made sure it had feeds of all kinds.

We avoided pornography and hate, but were happy to put in everything else.

Our thinking was that this was not like the stupidity of “teach the controversy“ and “fair and balanced reporting” — this was a service for our users, so they could find the kinds of things they wanted to find. We didn’t endorse these feeds: we just provided a catalog.

And one day during those years a tech writer (I won’t name him) contacted me with some questions, because he wanted to write a chapter about NetNewsWire for his upcoming book.

This was very cool, I remember thinking, because I had enjoyed some of his writing in the past.

That is, until he found the Sites Drawer. We had some feeds related to homosexuality — I don’t remember which, but they were of a liberal tone — and he objected to those feeds.

And he informed me that he couldn’t write about NetNewsWire due to his conscience.

* * *

People always say it’s important to have a conscience. But what if your conscience is wrong?

It’s the same thing with passion — people say it’s important to be passionate about something. But what if your passion is for something horrible?