Beware Radicalisation

Posted on July 1, 2015 by Richard Goulter
Tags: , , ,

Shot(s): When Nerds Collide by @maradydd / Meredith Patterson, 2014 Mar (Bonus: Okay, Feminism, It’s Time We Had a Talk About Empathy, 2013 Oct).
Chaser: Meredith Patterson’s valient effort is probably doomed by @esrtweet / Eric S. Raymond, 2015 Jan.

Well, at least ERS hedges by saying ‘probably’.

I read the above two pieces from Patterson some time ago.
‘When Nerds Collide’ is a particularly brilliant piece of writing you should go read. In short, it’s a response to the tensions which come up in terms of tech and ‘inclusivity’. THe piece is filled with a plethora of amazing points, but at its core discusses the idea of a “weird nerd”, who was previously rejected by mainstream culture but now happens to wield power.
The ‘peace offering’ here is more of a “you want inclusivity? here’s how you can have that.”; it’s a call for respect/construction rather than aggression/destruction.

(The second essay isn’t bad, either, but whereas the aforementioned essay is inclined to use progressive lingo, this one uses techie lingo and suggests that many of the efforts in the “women in tech” issue make for anti-patterns.).

I came across ERS’ above essay when someone linked to it on Twitter as part of a culture-war over some GitHub repo.
The key line used was “total rejection of the SJW doctrine”.

It’s not a bad piece of writing.
But it’s not a piece of writing which is going to make any friends. It’s clearly not written to be the kind of article which makes friends. – except maybe, maybe those who transcend the tribalism and genuinely care about “justice and inclusion”.

Yet, ERS’ does include the key phrase “defense of hacker culture”; maradydd’s writing more/less features this term, also.
– If there is any kind of peace offering in ERS’ piece, “shut up and show us the code”; the same conclusion maradydd’s piece ends with.

I don’t think any “kumbaya, let’s all sit around the campfire and be friends” attitude can outright reject ERS’ piece. At least, “ERS = bad, maradydd = good” seems as unlikely to win friends as “SJWs = bad, hackers = good”.
Hostile tone aside, iterate the points of ERS’ piece without hostility. (e.g.; as with pretty much every argument, “the other side aren’t sincere in caring about the values they say they care about, otherwise they’d do …”, “some bullying happens guised as ‘being inclusive’. This is concerning.”, etc.). – Perhaps a more neutral way of phrasing a conclusion would be “be inclusive, but have zero tolerance for bullying” or so.

In any case, what I note foremost from this is how ERS’ post manages to be much more hostile than maradydd’s (“they’re the enemy / we can’t let them gain an inch”) while following the same kinds of points.
ERS’ piece is much more radical / radicalising than maradydd’s more grounded piece.
And it’s concerning that such a tribalistic “they’re the enemy / we’re the good guys” (and therefore, any action we do is righteous, and action they do is evil) follows so closely from a more reasonable piece.

– Whether “code is without morality” (similar to “numbers don’t lie, interpretations do”?) holds or not is probably a point of contention to be had, among other points, but that can be considered some other time.
I’d be more interested to transcend the arguing here and consider the tribalism and all this “kumbaya” shit, how people interact & communicate (or don’t) in online places; the evils of (self-)righteousness, why it’s so much easier to spot that the other guy is an asshole (and of course you aren’t).

Newer post Older post