Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Hey Geeks, Remember Being Picked On and Feel a Little Empathy, Says Reddit Founder

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is trying to use his power as a leader of the broader Internet community (if there is such a thing) to call for change in the aftermath of the Adria Richards brouhaha last week — where one woman’s judgment call to expose sexist comments at a developer conference elicited massive outrage and two firings, including her own.

Alexis Ohanian as a young geek.

Alexis Ohanian as a young geek (via his blog)

Ohanian’s tactic: I was a geek, you were a geek, we know how it feels to be different. Now that geeks have become rock stars and are not mostly pasty white guys with similar life experiences, we need to remember where we came from. So don’t be a jerk.

The argument was laid out in a personal blog post titled “Dear Fellow Geeks: WTF?” on Monday.

With the savvy of a politician or psychologist, Ohanian differentiated “reasonable-seeming” geeky people from trolls — a.k.a. “frenzied agitators who are just mashing away on their keyboard, trying to outrage people,” as he put it.

His message: You normal people who are acting like jerks need to stop.

Wrote Ohanian, “Growing up, we typically weren’t picked first for sports, but were first on the Quake II server. Few people really understood our peculiar hobbies or how amazing it was to see ‘Hello, world’ for the first time. Plenty of us got used to being ignored. Many of us were bullied. But what did we learn from it — empathy or hate?”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik