The Reddit Button finally ended, and nothing happened

This article appeared on the TouchVision website June 5th, 2015. I am reuploading it today because I am about to publish an article on Forbes where I reference this material.

The social experiment known as the Button has ended, and people still don’t know what it was really about. And maybe that is the point.  

On April Fool’s Day, Reddit announced a new site feature, a button with a 60-second timer that you could only press once. Pressing the Button reset the timer, keeping everyone guessing when and if it would ever run down to zero. Pressers received a color badge to represent what time they pressed. It was all very mysterious and vague, and the Reddit community proceeded to treat it like a role-playing game, concocting elaborate stories, religions and color-based factions about what the Button was, figuratively, and what would happen when the timer ran out. Art, data visualizations and applications, thoughtful discussions and flame wars flourished.

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What does the Reddit Button say about you?

This article appeared on the TouchVision website May 8th, 2015. I am reuploading it today because I am about to publish an article on Forbes where I reference this material. This particular post was also picked up by PBS Digital, and mentioned in their video about the subject

What can a meaningless Button on the Internet tell us about society? A lot, actually.

Since April 1, denizens of the online community Reddit have been embroiled in a heated debate over a game involving a simple Button with a timer next to it. The one rule in this game? You can push the Button only once, and only if you created your account before April 1.

To push, when to push or not to ever push the Button is the question, and it turns out, people have very strong opinions on the matter. Over the past month, the mysterious Button has inspired distinctive factions based on colors, philosophies and religions, as well as data tools, art, poetry, comics, merchandise and even graduate school theses. One user named Psychotic Whispers said in an interview the Button is God. It’s become a long-running, role-playing exercise to many. To others, it’s a discussion on the meaning of life. Whatever it is, more than 800,000 people have pushed the Button to date.

Originally launched on April Fool’s Day as a social experiment via a brief blog post, Reddit proper hasn’t commented on its invention since. Reddit Director of Outreach Ashley Dawkins explained in an email they are not commenting on purpose so as to not interfere with the experiment.

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Why Google should delist 8chan

The post originally appeared on the TouchVision website in August of 2015 until January 2016 when the company closed down. Given the recent 8chan controversy over archiving and child porn, I thought I would upload it here.

Sometime on Aug. 12, Google took a rather monumental step by delisting 8chan, an imageboard largely known as the central hive for pro-GamerGate supporters. But then a few days later, it seems Google changed its mind, as the site began appearing again in search listings, some links with a warning.

Google did not respond to a request for comment about this flip-flopping, but that’s not the real issue, here. It’s clear, now, years after its debut, that 8chan should remain delisted, aka not show up in search results, permanently. By delisting 8chan, Google would set a major precedent for how to quell harassment, especially of women, on the web, as we wait for laws and legislation to catch up with technology — after all, most of the high profile cases, especially in GamerGate, have stemmed from 8chan.  

Besides being the central hub for GamerGate, that vitriolic movement of busybodies who crusade to eradicate progressive values in video gaming and related journalism (mainly by harassing women), 8chan is also known for its robust pedophilia community. Child abuse in the form of sexualized images of children is apparently why Google delisted 8chan in the first place. Or that was the reason given in (the lack of) search results, anyway. The warning now shows up in search  — “suspected child abuse content” — for certain 8chan listings.   Read the rest of this entry »


How the Internet empowered women in porn

joanna angel

This article originally appeared on the TouchVision TV website before it shut down. Reuploading here because it deserves to live somewhere on the internet forever – 

One night during her senior year at Rutgers University, Joanna Angel was up late with her roommate, talking about what they were going to do once they graduated. He flippantly suggested they start a porn site together, and after laughing about it for a minute, she agreed.

The site, named Burning Angel (NSFW) after Angel’s tattoo of an angel and a devil on her back, was launched less than a year later, from the duo’s post-college apartment in Brooklyn. Angel was barely 21 years old at the time, and she quickly went from being a film and English student at Rutgers waiting tables to becoming one of the most well-known names in the porn world for her work as an alternative, award-winning tattooed performer, producer and writer.

“I couldn’t have existed without the Internet,” Angel said. “I didn’t want a boring job and I didn’t want to become part of the corporate world, I wanted to start something myself.”

Angel’s story of independence and entrepreneurship as a young woman in the adult entertainment industry is common, and quickly becoming the norm. She is just one of a myriad of porn performers who started online and now run their own shows, call the shots and make the money with little intervention from middle men. But instead of hearing these stories, we get ones like the much-talked-about Hot Girls Wanted, the Rashida Jones-backed Netflix documentary following the rise of amateur porn production in Miami. It’s just the latest example of what some performers call “docu-tragedies” or “pornsploitation” that zero in on classic tropes of the naive girl from Kansas getting off the bus only to be led astray and ravaged both mentally and physically by evil men.

While one can’t deny that exploitation does still exist in the porn industry, overlooking the rise of the role women play in the production and distribution of it is extremely problematic for a number of reasons. Choosing to ignore the progress women have made in the industry marginalizes performers and further stigmatizes them (and all sex workers, really), all while hindering progress of their labor rights. The Internet has provided a very important platform for women in porn to take near-complete control over the production and distribution of their work, not to mention to their livelihood, in a way we haven’t seen before. And yet, we barely hear about any of this.  Read the rest of this entry »


Oh god, not another TMI post Fruzs!

TMI because fuck patriarchy… 

I just got off the phone with a debt collector, calling on behalf of Northwestern, and my anger is swelling in my throat and I don’t know if I will be able to swallow it in a timely manner. So hello, here is another TMI update on the health and money woes in my life. Yes yes, for people who have been following this blog for years (um, why?), I still have issues walking, sitting, eating. While that is more than enough reasons for me to angry — all the time, actually, so that my normal includes trying not to glare at the ease at which my co-workers walk around the office– this anger is quite different. Also, I cheat with my food now more often — for example, last night I ate some pizza and my raging heartburn, choking on my phlegm bullshit went away around 3am, so hey, not as bad as last year.

But wait, why would I do this? I needed some comfort, and it’s motherfucking PIZZA okay,  it is even more delicious now that it is forbidden. Also, sometimes I can eat it no problem. I digress.      

I currently owe roughly $600 for a 30 minute doctor’s visit with a specialist who did absolutely nothing except humiliate me.  It’s been more than six months now and I can still see the look of disgust in her face — I am tearing up right now as I type this, calling forth the memory. If I had insurance at the time, perhaps the price wouldn’t sting as much. (Last year BCBS canceled my insurance because they didn’t believe I was an American citizen, this year, because they stopped offering that plan through ObamaCare. Thanks for nothing, assholes!)

But on to the horrible healthcare professional part…Earlier this summer I went to visit a specialist downtown, as recommended by my doctor. The one I was originally referred to, the receptionist on the phone told me, only dealt with upper GI so she recommended I see a different doctor who also dealt with lower GI issues, which fit with my symptoms. What a mistake. I had to wait more than a month, and when the day arrived, waited again in her office for some more time.

The visit started normal enough. I told her of my symptoms, and mentioned sometimes it really hurts during sex, and to sit, and how the pain that sometimes goes down my right leg becomes numbness and weakness, coinciding with the pain in my ass/hip/lower back. I also told her how a year ago, when I took prednisone for a week, it was one of the best weeks of my life — I still think of that week and how little pain I had. She felt around on my stomach and uh huh-ed a bunch as if she was listening. When I finished, she said I probably have some mild IBS (I wish!), advised I continue taking PPI pills, and then, “And you should probably go see a gynecologist about…. that.” Her forehead wrinkled up in disgust when she said this, her “that” all flat as if she was judging me for something I did. “Make sure everything is okay down there.”

It’s hard enough to talk about some of my symptoms because they are already embarrassing enough, but that look of hers? Totally unnecessary. I remember getting immediately ashamed but still nodded affirmative. The problem is my ass not my vagina, I screamed in my head.

So off to the gynecologist I went, to Planned Parenthood, of course, the only affordable outfit out there that won’t charge me exorbitant fees for basic services. It took me a few weeks to get an appointment. The gynecologist there was a kind old lady that chatted with me while prodding deep into my pussy like it was no big deal. She found nothing to be alarmed about up there — it was all “perfect” and working and “many women would kill to have that pH.”

My urine sample, however, revealed I could be very dehydrated, as I had a large amount of ketones and blood in my urine. (I sometimes have blood in my poop, so hey, why not in my urine too amiright?) She prescribed some antibiotics and UTI meds which relieved some of my symptoms days later, and I donated a small amount to Planned Parenthood on the way out. Everyone there was professional and kind and took my concerns seriously and didn’t make me feel like I was gross subhuman.

But $600 for that horrible experience at Northwestern? I will never forget it. Further, I will be reminded of it for months to come now that I set up a payment plan to finally pay it all off. I am also never going back to Northwestern, as long as I can help it.

 

Epilogue of sorts:

I am hoping the next entry in this TMI series will be a definitive diagnosis. Before my insurance was canceled my primary healthcare physician referred me to a neurologist to investigate whether I have nerve damage in my leg related to that time I was hit by a car while on my bike many years ago.

I have insurance through work, now so come January 1st I will finally go to a neurologist NOT at Northwestern, as well as demand my doctor schedule me for an MRI or EMG. I still haven’t gotten one all this time. (X-rays years ago revealed sclerosis on my hips, both sides.) I really doubt I have nerve damage in my leg + depression + serious case of GERD + asthma at this point. I’ve been taking the Wellbutrin for more than a year now and I love it, but the extent of my tiredness doesn’t fit into depression. The constantly feeling like I am in a fog bit, ok that fits, but others, no.  I get out of breath way too easily, am constantly dizzy or nauseous, pass out on the couch immediately after any vaguely vigorous exercise that gets my heart rate up, have muscle spasms that are no longer just confined to my right leg, etc. I have mentally prepared myself for all sorts of possibilities like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, some bullshit cancer or tumor, and even diabetes… sometimes I get into moods where I feel like I am running out of time, but maybe, oh please maybe, this is all in my head somehow.

Despite all this, I’ve been working on my moonwalk…and it’s not half bad.


can we remember Shanley

for when she got it right?

Because sure she was the PUSSY RIOT of silicon

Valley SJWs but no tits so GTFO

no really, where are the boobs–

but then also, Model View Culture.

new voices to renew, grow and subdue

men feartrembled in the spotlight

when she pointed her finger

INCOMING

so many expletives JESUS

the bombs and tears, wrung hair in hand

urge to pet her head chill sweetie,

empress grace rewound like cassette tape

into a yapping chihuahua

Go home you drunk

shock and awe reverb effect

but come on let’s be real,

the performance is taxing, it would make anyone crack

what do you think dating weev would do?

NOT inspire your inner extremest?

not every woman can be

your super poised princess

on the verge of being

a great warrior Queen,

feminist supreme


Suits & Spooks, Sexism and Sabu: Part 2

It’s been months now since I wrote part 1, and I am still blocked by Jeffrey Carr. This makes me think that he doesn’t get it… get the whole “don’t do all-male panels,” and don’t “speak so disrespectfully about (and to) women in the community” thing.

And this isn’t just about how he treated Jamie — immediately after my blog post, on Twitter Carr questioned my professionalism, implied I was crazy, told me how to do my job and how to blog. And then blocked me.

I didn’t want to write about his ineptitude at finding speakers for his controversial panel for an outlet, because, frankly, I am not a big fan of the whole shaming industry that exists online these days. I was hoping a silly, relatively low-key personal blog post pointing out how problematic his behavior was would be enough. There is something to be said about how clearly out of touch he is with the community he was looking for speakers in, but again, coverage like that is not really my style.

After I posted part 1, I had a few women — professionals — tell me in private their issues with Carr. This made me feel a little better about my blog post, but the silence that resonated from the rest of the women in the industry was really disheartening. I tried to justify their silence with thoughts like …maybe their silence was because Jaime, who is a goddamn legend in that scene, is also a known troll? And the people who came to her defense (and mine) were also trolls and satirists? But if you’re not a troll in infosec, or understand them, then you don’t understand infosec. (Troll here is not to be misconstrued with cyberbully or stalker.)

And then I thought… maybe it is because with trolls, and Anonymous, you have to take anything they say with a grain of salt. Trolls and Anonymous like to manipulate the press for their own agenda, and while I saw some of that in the initial outcry, the intentions were valid and sincere. Even YAN came to Jaime’s defense.

Maybe it is because Carr has been in the scene for what looks like decades, and has worked with the US government and is therefore too big to criticize? Or is it a combination of all three?

I tried to find reasons for this silence, and it made me question myself, until I remembered this is a pattern in this particular community. When that man accused another man of raping his wife, and purchased the domain name of the accused where he posted his plea to the community, there was very little outcry, and no press about it. When that favorite academic was accused of sexual misconduct with his student last year, the community also responded atrociously. The same men who helped organize those Anonymous anti-rape ops spread the name of the victim, and if that wasn’t bad enough, sent threats to the literally 3 women that called out their hypocritical behavior. These women got rape threats too. The most vocal one had semi-nude photos of her shared online to shame her. It was disgusting.

The “sexism in tech” discussion has been raging online for years now, with the mainstream focus on Silicon Valley and the video game community.  Both those sectors have vibrant and active women trying to make those industries better for women and minorities, and have made some substantial strides (even just in terms of public perception) in just a few years. The same could be said for the science community. And the men in those industries are actively listening, and trying.

But this community? Many don’t even want to hear it.