Monday, December 31, 2012

@Asher_Wolf, my Person of the Year

Two days ago I didn't know who @Asher_Wolf is. In reality I still don't, but I know she has done two of the most important things for the on-line community in the past year, if not the decade: she started CryptoParty; and when faced with misogyny and harassment she called public attention to her tormentors' actions. For that temerity she was attacked in social media and by hackers who defaced her blog. Those tormentors may be surprised by the number and diversity of the people who have come to her defense, but I'm not.

CryptoParty is a long overdue grass-roots attempt to bring facility with cryptographic tools to the non-technical masses on the Internet with the aim of helping people protect themselves from surveillance.

You may read about her tribulations on a mirror site for her blog that is protected against denial-of-service attacks: http://asherwolf.net/dear-hacker-community-we-need-to-talk/101/. This is not an easy read, but it should be a must read for everyone who considers themselves part of the hacker community, or culture. Many people have either criticized her emotional responses, or advised her that the emotional level has a negative effect on her reputation. I believe these people miss the point. The attacks aimed at Asher are emotional in nature. They are intended to invoke an emotional response. Asking for, or advising a rational response is disingenuous at best, and probably dishonest in most cases. As Mark Twain observed When angry count four; when very angry, swear.

Read her blog posting, resolve to do better in the new year.

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