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Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’

Stashed in: Women, Teh Internets, @lizgannes, Awesome, Sexism, Books!, life, @ev, internet, Haters!, LGBTQ, Rape, XX

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AMAZING review of a recent book about online shaming, by the always sprightly Choire Sicha, who expertly hijacks the entire reading experience by highlighting what the author did not: that the consequences for women and "gender offenders" who screw up even a little are exponentially worse than for educated white men who screw up a lot. Shaming and violence are on a continuum for women and LGBT people in a way that they just aren't for men.

The review ends with some of the most truly deathless shade that has ever been thrown: "Often we send a married, ­middle-aged man who makes $250,000 a year (half a million in a good year, ­apparently) to do the job. It’s fine! Ronson is a sweet and particularly talented man. But the actual problem with the Internet isn’t us hastily tweeting off about foolish people. The actual problem is that none of the men running those bazillion-dollar Internet companies can think of one ­single thing to do about all the men who send women death threats."

Actually, Ev Williams has thought deeply about how to prevent the death threats, and is applying it to Medium:

Here's the insight:

It’s easier than you think to help people be civil to each otherPeople get attacked on Medium, just as they do all over the web. But it happens “much much less,” says Williams, “both for audience and architectural reasons.” Early on, Medium introduced comments that appear in line. “Because authors have to flip the switch to show them, there’s less motivation [to flame writers] because you can’t do it publicly,” says Williams. Medium also has a response feature that allows readers to leave comments at the bottom of the post; comments aren’t made public unless the original poster approves it.

OK but... I'm gonna be slightly mean here... Medium is long-form. It takes way too much work to even figure out what a Medium article is about.

That's true and probably why the haters stick to Twitter. They can't handle more than a sentence or 2.

I'm discouraged that Hank learned nothing.

Along these lines, one of the most captivating stories in the history of the Internet involves an incident that, happily, Ronson covers in depth. At a developer conference, two dudes, “Hank” and Alex, were cracking mildly off-color jokes to each ­other. Adria Richards, a woman sitting in front of them, photographed them and reported them to organizers. They explained the situation and were released. She tweeted and blogged about it. Hank was fired, then apologized in a public forum. The website of the company where Richards worked was forced down; then she was fired as well. Hank got a new job right away. ­Richards did not. Instead she spent a year fielding rape and murder threats.

But how, Ronson wonders, had Hank’s relationship with women developers changed since the incident? “Well,” Hank tells him. “We don’t have any female developers at the place I’m working at now. So.”

Ronson is always careful not to ­overly whittle his conclusions lest they snap under pressure. But he appears to have come to believe two things. One is that people are much kinder in the real world than they are on the Internet. The other is that online, we are “creating a world where the smartest way to survive is to be bland.”

Unfortunately he did learn something: don't work with women EVAR and you won't get in trouble.

Sadly, yes. That's a variation on what Liz Gannes calls the most dangerous meme:

See also Kathy Sierra's blog post about cruel online haters:

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