TWIT 744: Boiling the Privacy Frog

Exact same thought I had

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Greg Farraro: I.T.'s greatest armchair quarterback.

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For those that haven’t listened let me summarize

Greg interrupts
Greg hates all companies except his own
Greg interrupts
The only who can be right is Greg
The people who run big tech companies are all incompetent kids
Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple can’t release a good product
Greg interrupts
I forgot Justine was on the call
Poor Alex

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I value Greg’s input, but I do wish he hadn’t treated every bit of this dialog as if it were just a 2-way conversation between him and (not here yet???) Alex Lindsay. The best guests don’t just articulate; they also ask for input from the host and other guests. And they allow those other panel members to contribute fully. Justine has plenty to offer, but I don’t think she was allowed to speak nearly enough.

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I think Greg may have the bad combination of Aussie brashness and British cynicism. Makes a hard personality to deal with. Alex did a good job in trying to steer things and putting over the pragmatic view on topics especially the Facebook/Twitter/Google privacy thing.

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I think the brass at TwiT need to sit down with Greg and explain decency and best practices if he wants to be on another podcast on the network. Additionally, as someone mentioned before, the last time he was on his points were debunked and he was too stubborn to admit it. I don’t believe a lot of what he says because I get the sense half the time he’s making assumptions to strengthen his argument. I would like to see his sources that says introverts do all the work.

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I “like” him too, despite what I said earlier, in that he’d probably be an interesting guy to grab a beer with. Same with Jeff Jarvis. I just don’t like the way he/they conduct themselves on-air.

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Yeah, this whole bit of ignoring, talking over, mansplaining, etc. with female guests has been working my last nerve lately. It’s been an issue on TWiT for a long time, and one Leo has sincerely tried to address, but it just keeps happening over and over and over again, from Jeff Jarvis steamrolling over Stacey on TWiG to Mike Elgan (who I normally adore) aggressively mansplaining Florence Ion a couple of weeks back on TWiT, to this week’s treatment of Justine. It’s boring and disrespectful.

(And yes, I know many women on TWiT don’t have this problem, but everyone’s not as adept at verbal sparring as Amy Webb or Christina Warren. And also that quieter male guests get steam-rolled from time to time. The point is that tech has long been seen as a “Brotopia” culture – see the book of the same name for details – and, as a listener, I want to hear these other voices and see them treated with the respect they deserve. If that makes me an SJW, so be it.)

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What does her being female have to do with anything?

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I believe Google is the most secure company out of all of them.

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I think Stacey interrupts Jeff all the time. But when she does it everyone finds it cute and jokes about it.

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She does (but you have to with Jarivs, or you’d never get a word in), and they do (which is kind of patronizing and annoying), so fair point. But what I’m talking about is a larger pattern of disrespectful behaviour toward female guests that a lot of people, including Leo and many other TWiT guests/hosts have openly acknowledged/discussed for quite some time. I guess either you see it or you don’t.

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I don’t know I’d go so far as “I like him” but I can tolerate him. He reminds me strongly of a former co-worker who was born Scottish having emigrated to Canada. He was like a sad sack of wet noodles… nothing worked right, no one was satisfactory, nobody did a good enough job… etc. Having never been to Europe, but having heard the weather in the UK was frequently dreary, I kind of blamed it on that. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, but I do think Greg could use a good dose of cheer or beer or something.

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Get him hammered before the show. That would be fun…

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Possibly, but they still fall into the model I described. They throw lawyers at technical problems, until the cost of the lawyers + fines exceeds “doing the right thing”.

The biggest example is YouTube and copyright infringement, they knew from the beginning that a portion of the content being uploaded infringed copyright, whether it be a TV show or film or somebody “stealing” somebody elses clip and posting it for themselves to get advertising revenue. But, even back then, doing the right thing and tracking the copyright infringements would have been difficult, and more to the point, pulling down all those lucrative “click makers” would stiffle their revenue. So they hid behind lawyers and tried to go for Safe Harbor status in the USA and threw lawyers at Performing Rights, GEMA etc. in the rest of the world.

Eventually it cost too much to keep fighting, so they let people mark films for takedown, but they complained that it was too expensive and too burdensome and would somebody please think about the childr… erm adverts. The system they put in place is broken, unfair, doesn’t really protect copyright holders who post their own original work (just look how often TWIT has its videos taken down) or copyright holders who have to constantly watch YouTube for repeat offences of the same video.

They reacted similarly with “right to be forgotten,” they threw lawyers at the problem, but it didn’t go away, they threw FUD at the problem, but it didn’t go away, they deliberately misinterpreted the word** of the law, but it still didn’t go away.

They have a whole history of this. Facebook is even worse.

** If a normal, non-lawyer can read the law and work out how it is to be implemented, either Google’s lawyers were incompetent, or they deliberately misinterpreted what they had to do in an effort to ridicule the legislators and to get public opinion to such a level that they would withdraw the legislation. It didn’t happen and, eventually, they started to, begrudgingly, follow the letter of the law.

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I think a big part of the problem is the latency of the Skype connections, mixed with the different personalities.

Greg and Jeff are used to jumping in with both feet and know exactly what they want to rant about, whether they are right or not is another matter. They have foreful personalities and as soon as there is the slightest pause in the conversation coming in over their video feed, they start talking and, whilst they talk they probably don’t get the other person’s voice coming in for a while and when it does, it probably sound like that person is trying to talk over them.

On the other hand, you have someone like Stacey, who is thoughtful, formulates her argument in her head and then starts to speak when the pause is long enough to know that she can start talking. And when somebody starts talking over her, she shuts up, possibly because the other person talking makes her lose her thread.

That last part is a hypothesis, but based on my own experience and nothing to do with her being female, before anyone jumps down my throat. I am a lot like Stacey in building up my arguments and formulating them coherrently, before I open my mouth and when somebody butts in, I tend to lose my thread and need to regather.

Mix a Jarvis like personality with a Stacey like personality, throw in link latency and you have the situation where Stacey often can’t get a word in edge-ways, unless Leo steps in to calm Jeff down.

I’m not making excuses for Jeff or Greg here, just explaining why this often happens. I don’t think it is always malicious from them, but they do have forceful personalities that need to talk and once they are on a role, they don’t stop until they are done, which is exacerbated by the latency.

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I love when Alex is on any TWIT show, but this is the first time I’ve ever thought “wow, poor Greg Ferro can’t get a word in.” Alex just continually steamrolled him. Justine is great but she could barely get in a word. Alex at least had the good grace as host to periodically check in with her and ask for her thoughts. I could also do with a little less Karsten if I’m being honest. The whole three hour show was a reminder just how good Leo is as a host.

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Amen to that. Being a great host is such a specific skill set, and Leo (despite occasional criticisms, which I think he himself would acknowledge, as none of us are perfect) is a pro among pros in my book. There are very few people who can juggle all the plates, play referee, be kind, funny, intelligent, and personable, and hold an audience’s interest at the same time. Simply put, he has a gift.

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I think you’re probably right in that communication style plays a big role in all this, along with the “latency/who’s in studio/who’s not” issue. It’s also occurred to me that someone like Jeff is used to being listened to (as a college professor) and so is perhaps more prone to lecturing and less reserved with his opinions. Not sure what Greg’s excuse is (haha), but obviously he has no problem being verbally assertive. Introverted people in general have a hard time being heard, apart from sex/gender, and I do get that. I do believe however, there’s a bad optics involved when women (especially in a “Brotopia” field like tech) get talked over, steam-rolled, mansplained, etc., and I’ll never be convinced that gender doesn’t play some underlying role in this behaviour. I’ve just seen too much of it over the years.

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Well, Greg was in house for this latest TWiT, so he can’t claim latency as an excuse…

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