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Tech commentator barred from Microsoft tech conference after hostile tweets at previous event

stilgherrianA technology commentator says he has been “banned” from attending this week’s Microsoft technology conference TechEd, on the Gold Coast, after what he says was organiser Microsoft’s concerns about his tweeting at last year’s event.

In a post on Stilgherrian’s blog over the weekend, the writer and blogger said technology website ZDNet Australia had commissioned him to attend the event only to find that Microsoft did not want him there, alleging that during the keynote last year he had been “aggressive to speakers”.

“I do both journalism and blogging but I was engaged to do was straight up journalism and analysis,” Stilgherrian told Mumbrella. “My reportage over recent years has been balanced I have praised (Microsoft) when they have done good things and criticised them when I thought they haven’t done well.”

He said the barring from the conference came about as a result of after a series of tweets he made criticising keynote speaker Jason Silva at last year’s conference. As the journalist explained in his blog post among the more controversial things he tweeted about the self-described futurist were:

“This Jason Silva guy? I’m afraid that I already want to punch him in the face very, very hard. #auteched”

“Yeah maybe cut back on the amphetamines, Jason. #auteched”

“Sorry, folks, but being CONTINUALLY AMAZED BY ALL THE THINGS is not insightful or wisdom, it’s a mental illness. #auteched”

“The feeling that I am feeling right this very moment is the reason why you should not hand me a gun today. #auteched”

“NO DO NOT APPLAUD HIM HE IS A CHARLATAN. #auteched”

Microsoft has declined to discuss the exact events that led the organisation to bar Stilgherrian from the event. However, according to Stilgherrian on the second day of the conference last year a Microsoft staffer pulled him aside to discuss the tweets.

“Concerns had been raised, he said, about my tweets. I think the word ‘tone’ was used. He didn’t say who had raised these concerns, and I don’t think he ever gave a concrete description of these concerns. I remember being confused,” Stilgherrian wrote in his post.

He told Mumbrella that since then he had had a good relationship with the company up until they told his editor he was not welcome at the  conference.

“I had been working under the assumption that my relationship with the company continued to be good, as it has been over the years,” he said. “My main gripe is not that Microsoft are not paying my airfares and accommodation on the Gold Coast for a week, it’s that they have said something to one of my commissioning editors, which is quite frankly defamatory.”

In a statement Microsoft said:

“TechEd is one of our most popular events and we aim to provide delegates, speakers, employees and guests with a great experience every year.

“Each year, media requests to attend TechEd outnumber the of amount of spaces available and therefore we do have to make choices in regard to who we invite.”

The company refused to be drawn its reason for barring Stilgherrian but told Mumbrella:

“We look to invite members of the media who are prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue, whether that is in-person or online. Whether you’re a journalist, a blogger, a delegate or an employee, our hope is to have interactions that are in keeping with the positive environment and networking that takes place on site.

“Above all, Microsoft wants to create an environment where guests, delegates and employees are treated respectfully and that everyone can have an enjoyable and productive experience.”

Stilgherrian has defended his use of “hyperbolic violence” in the tweets

“Anyone who took ever a brief moment to look at my style would see that this hyperbolic violence is part of my style and has been all along. It is in the genre as anvil on the head violence of Warner Brothers cartoons, you have to be pretty stupid to think I was serious,” he said.

Nic Christensen

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