Sunday, 6 January 2013

Response to: "Dear Hacker Community – We Need To Talk."

The following is a response to Asher Wolf's

I want to extend the hand of friendship to Asher and apologise to her for the way she has been collectively treated, as a woman, as a single mother, by others from different social backgrounds. She may have gone a little overboard in her personal criticisms but the anger of her reaction is understandable. Sexism and misogyny are real and, sadly enough, also exist in the hacker community.

I am sympathetic that Asher had to reach out to me for help after a previous webdesigner had let her down with the website and it is a pity that things did not work out again. I had completed everything else on the specification in the contract that Asher and I agreed on apart from 'Site Customisation / Look and feel' and I was, at the time of Asher's blog post, still waiting for feedback and more input from her in order to proceed. As an Electronic Engineer doing a favour for a friend I was not skilled enough to be able to work intuitively when the only guiding information that I had from Asher regarding design was "please make it like Penny Red's blog".

I have publicly asked Asher for her bank details so that I can make a refund but she has failed to get into contact with me which raises a number of questions. It appears that her motivations for including me in her post did not include financial remuneration or even that she was particularly dissatisfied with my work and frankly I feel quite fed up and misrepresented. I really wish that she had just contacted me privately to tell me that she was unhappy, it would have been a lot easier to resolve that way.

Asher told me on a number of occasions that the website was low priority given the other things that we were collaborating on at the time including Cryptoparty, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Hackers and Occupy Sandy. It turns out that this was a bad strategy and it would have been better to finish the project in early November.

Asher, as a friend, how can you conscience letting that blog post and those tweets stand when only a couple of weeks prior to that you wrote this for my MIT application?

“He has volunteered countless hours with Cryptoparty. He personally founded the London chapter of Cryptoparty, hosting successful events at both Google and Mozilla.
Mr Carlisle has also worked tirelessly to edit the Cryptoparty handbook, adding numerous corrections and additions to crowd-sourced manual since it's first publication.
In response to Hurricane Sandy, Mr Carlisle facilitated a Cryptoparty-hosted 'Hurricane Hackers' meetup in London, and donating countless hours of his time online to support tech efforts in the wake of storm damage in the U.S.
Most recently, he represented Cryptoparty at the European Commission's 'No Disconnect Strategy Workshop for European Capability for Situational Awareness.'
Mr Carlisle is a rare kind of individual: he spends a large proportion of his spare time thoughtfully engaged in practical application of new technology for the sake of human rights, creating and implementing initiatives benefiting countless numbers of people.
He is constantly cultivating a network of friends and colleagues throughout the world - including journalists, technologists, thought leaders and activists - seeking input on ways to engage technology with human rights issues and critical feedback on his work.
It is hard not to feel inspired when working with Samuel. He is a thoughtful, highly intelligent young man and a pleasure to work with.”

It is a mystery to me how someone who claims to be my friend could betray me with messages like these:

Asher (re: European Commission) "Not running off to do something more important than the work I paid you to do, or busy flogging my idea to ppl in higher echelons and taking the credit?", "When I tried to talk to you about the E.C. issue, you rage quit the fucking conversation." "@leashless @bendiken I find it even more concerning he represented Cryptoparty at the E.C."

Asher "Busy flogging the idea of Cryptoparty without my involvement. Never asked me ANYTHING, not for a single moment of input before taking massive steps by putting Cryptoparty near Google, Mozilla, the E.C. You just assumed it was okay."

Asher I believe in autonomy and I have acted above reproach and with honour in so far as Cryptoparty is concerned. With the best intentions of the Cryptoparty movement at my heart, I will work autonomously in order to make progress in the absence of a centralised control structure. I consider this to be consistent with the "Sudo Leadership", "Excellence" and "Do-ocracy" values of the Cryptoparty movement. Cryptoparty London has inherited a culture of Do-ocracy, Sudo-Leadership, and Excellence from here which derives from Noisebridge's 'Tripartite Pillars' and, ancestrally, from the international hackspace design patterns (from the 24th CCC in 2007, Cryptoparty is about open and participative dissemination of ideas, building community and sharing of information and techniques around cryptography, not egos and personal agendas. I can't understand how you claim to be the leader of a community project which you have 'quit' several times. Let's put this all behind us and remain focused on building community, having fun and creating a safe space for learning about the usage of crypto tools as has always been the case at Cryptoparty London.

I wish for a sincere apology (public or not, Asher has my email address) for the hateful speech and threats that I received from her and others during #29c3 and the few days following because all that did was perpetuate the violence and anger which we all need to fight against.

With regards to Asher's application to do a panel talk at 29C3, I was very disappointed that it was rejected. When she emailed me to say that the talk had been rejected I was totally gutted. That was the first time that Asher and I would have been able to meet after collaborating online for the last 3 months (Australia / UK) and also a good time for the CCC community and many others to hear about Cryptoparty.

We were all very disappointed that it was not approved. So much so that the first thing I did after arriving at the CCH building in Hamburg (this year's venue for 29c3) was to seek out and complain to several organisers and let them know that they really fucked up by failing to accept the talk and get Asher to Hamburg. They unanimously agreed that it was a mistake that they would have liked to correct.

You know, this whole thing came at a particularly difficult time for me and I can understand how it might have slotted into Asher's experience of men in the system as a whole but at the same time I think it is inappropriate and unprofessional to use that as a justification to trigger a campaign of hatred, threats and libel. Here is an incomplete but reflective summary of the abuse that I and others have received as a result of this; though Asher appears to have deleted some of the less tasteful and libellous tweets. Luckily others have re-tweeted them so they are findable:

  1. "RT @Asher_Wolf: Anyone sitting in on @SamTheTechie's lightening talk at #29c3, ask he'll pay back $700 for the work he never did on my website"
  2. Asher: “Go to hell Sam. You're a complete douche."
  3. Asher: “Well done. Your attitudes destroyed the idea of Cryptoparty for the ppl, by the ppl."
  1. "If @SamTheTechie is currently leading a Cryptoparty at #29c3 and you're a bystander, I will repeat: fuck you."
  2. "What the fuck? @Asher_Wolf rightly calls out the hacker community for sexism and gets d0xed? Wow cool response bro dudes."
  3. "@samthetechie @RitaMartincsek IMHO charging $700 for WP makes you a conman. Even if that's what the contract stipulates.”
  4. @n3rdyg1rl not really looking to get in the middle of @Asher_Wolf's argument with @samthetechie but all he had done was install wordpress
  5. Hey @samthetechie, please return @Asher_Wolf's $700 or explain why it's yours. Thanks, All the Men Who Would Rather See the Asshats Leave.
  6. .@Samthetechie What is going on? Are you repaying @Asher_Wolf the money she paid you? It's time to make this right.
  7. 'Informed via email @SamTheTechie had access to 29c3's NOC and he was removed from the team after he "misbehaved there."'
    Response to 11. Actually I was volunteering at the conference since the 24th December to deploy wireless routers and networking equipment to help setup the conference and I was thrown out from the team purely as a result of your hateful messages online.
    To highlight just what a misrepresentation this was, here is a message from someone that met me at the conference "And thanks again for you advice/connections at the Congress. You're such a kind, positive force in an environment like that, finding ways of bringing people together and treating everybody with respect and openness. You turned every area you were in into a pocket of kindness and productivity -- I was thoroughly impressed!""

Asher it is time that you stop abusing your voice, reach and influence to misrepresent me far and wide for a bit of extra coverage because many find that bullying and exploitative. I know that I am not the only one because others have reached out to me in private to show their support so I am just stating that I simply deserve better than that from the people I choose to call friends and the people I choose to work with.

Lastly, Jacob Applebaum autonomously decided, in presumption of my guilt in the matter, to setup a Paypal fund and which has made a total of 885.00 USD which is equivalent to around 844.71 AUD (a profit of $144.70). At first you seemed happy about it but then you seemed to change your mind and and

I humbly suggest that you reverse your decision to simply let Paypal keep the money because I feel that it is disrespectful to the people that, rightly or wrongly, supported you when you said that you were left out of pocket as a result of things not working out.

So please invest the time and effort to be courageous in making an example of Paypal so that more people will feel encouraged to do the same and then, if you wish, give the money back to those who donated it that's your choice.

Being raised, against all odds, by an amazing single-mum, I have to say, I mostly agree with your post. But we should pool all of our resources and efforts together and face the real problems rather than in-fighting. Women everywhere are being treated as second class citizens, most of the parenting automatically lies with them, whether they want it or not. And women are also missing out in the work place and as of 2009 “women earned on average 17% less gross hourly than men in the European Union” We need to stop this! We also need to take a good look at our own community, in which people think it is fun to ridicule creeper cards, right after yet another woman in the world (she was given the name Damini by the people and she was from India) has been raped, used and killed by a group of guys that I hardly consider to be human

I really wish that Asher and I will be able to resolve this and for our movement to set a milestone for our agenda which features freedom of expression, right to privacy, right to family life and civic empowerment and engagement.