Amanda Chapel, aka "Strumpette," needs some tough love

Amanda Chapel, aka "Strumpette," needs some tough love

Summary: I had a strange Twitter back-and-forth with "Amanda Chapel," the pseudonymous authors of a PR blog called "Strumpette," about the nature of the hacker ethic. I personally don't think the hacker ethic is very effective as a counterpoint to the system of intellectual property it decries, because hackers seem intent on getting rich one way or the other.


I had a strange Twitter back-and-forth with "Amanda Chapel," the pseudonymous authors of a PR blog called "Strumpette," about the nature of the hacker ethic. I personally don't think the hacker ethic is very effective as a counterpoint to the system of intellectual property it decries, because hackers seem intent on getting rich one way or the other. "Amanda" apparently agrees, because she/he/they wrote that it was "bankrupt." Nevertheless, Amanda had to find a disagreement in order to continue her/his/their snarky schtick. I asked "Amanda" why she/he/they thought the hacker ethic, which is characterized by an often over-simplified Hayekian-libertarian approach to markets, exists outside the current economic and philosophical system and ended up being confronted with a number of epithets and was told "[Amanda doesn't] entertain opinions, period."

You can watch the unwinding of the dialog here and here.

Amanda's is small mind(s) in action (and yes, that is grammatically as close to correct as I can get without more gratuitous use of forward slashes). I try to understand where disagreements arise, because that's how we can all improve our thinking. I tried with "Amanda" to point out that we don't really disagree about the value of the hacker ethic. The phony distinctions between liberals and conservatives, for example, have prevented real engagement with precisely the same ideas stated in different terms for the past 28 years, when Ronald Reagan abandoned the traditional Republican commitment to liberal principles, at least in word, as the deeds of the Republican administrations have only magnified the power of government vis-a-vis the individual.

The thing is, I have often thought "Amanda" made some constructive interventions in the mindless chatter of Web 2.0 with her/his/their contrarian posting and tweets. It's as though Godwin's Law kicked in, in a different form, this time proving that as the length of time a person tweets increases the more likely they are to accuse someone of "blowing arrogant bullshit." Call it Ratcliffe's Corollary and think of me well when I am gone.

Our discussion of an unpublished academic article that Amanda said supported her/his/their position that the hacker ethic is a bankrupt extra-capitalist (specifically, she/he/the wrote "anti-property") movement quickly devolved into Amanda resorting to name-calling. This is the kind of self-important amateurish blowhardism she/he/they generally decries, but it appears "Amanda" is merely playing at controversy without engaging any real understanding in order to appear relevant.

The paper Amanda cites, which she sent me but is not cleared for publication before it appears in a scholarly journal, has a lot of nice quotes that talk about the "anti-property" character of the hacker ethic, which is somewhat true of some of the hackers, and completely true of a few. But its analysis of liberalism is flawed by a neo-Marxist bias that confuses Kantian private reason with Kantian public reason in its examples, and it does not support Amanda's contention that the hacker ethic is located outside the liberal capitalist system. I'd be happy to go into detail about this in public, but not in private or on Twitter, which isn't a fit forum for intellectual debate, because Amanda dumped all over the idea that my opinion is worth considering and I would leave it to others to judge the value of our opposing ideas without the interjection of name-calling and profanity.

If "Amanda" didn't understand my brief critique of the paper, she/he/they should read some other papers and learn something that actually offers a counter-point to my argument. Simply saying that this is an uninformed dismissal and arrogant does not treat the problem, because she/he/they are wrong in the characterization of the hacker ethic as a critique-from-without of the capitalist system. The paper supports my position by repeatedly placing the hacker ethic within the liberal tradition.

I unsubbed her/his/its Twitter feed and she shot back, unsubbing mine. Hardly the height of "social," let alone "media." It speaks volumes about the quality of the discourse on the topic of media generally that Strumpette is a prominent voice. I am sure, by the way, that I am not a prominent voice on these topics, though I personally prefer working the real world to blowhardism.

Anyhow, I had invited "Amanda" to debate the issue somewhere not limited to 140 characters, as Twitter is. She/he/that refused impolitely, as I said, to "entertain opinions." Clearly, she/him/they don't understand that hers/his/theirs is merely an opinion, too. Perhaps, at some point she/he/it will stop taking herself/himself/themselves so seriously and join in a polite debate.

I will also note that in her/his/their unsub tweet about me, the statement is made that I think I matter because I have a blog. At the time the events described in the paper happened, such as the founding of the Free Software Foundation, the Phil Zimmerman/PGP controversy and the evolution of public-key cryptography involving Whit Diffie, I was covering them as a journalist. At what point did I become self-important about my perception of these events, then, when I was a "pro" or an "amateur"? All I said is that, from the perspective of someone who was there, "anti-property" sentiment did not play a large role in any of these events other than with Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation. Phil Zimmerman personally told me his motives were to save lives, the economic consequences of releasing PGP were a secondary concern. By the way, Phil Zimmerman profited from PGP when he cofounded a company with my former employer, Jonathan Seybold—I introduced them.

What "Amanda" really seems to be betraying in the comment about my self-importance is her/his/their own self-consciousness about being "just a blogger." I believe this is a valid assessment of the personality behind Strumpette, which thrives only on disagreement, not even informed disagreement. Acting out isn't the basis of a viable publication about ideas—it does support all sorts of crappy and pornographic publications. There's an entire business model in being verbally ignorant, alas, because of the proliferation of cheap and easy-to-use publishing tools. This, too, shall pass.

All I did was disagree with her/him/them. That doesn't make me right, but it surely isn't a crime deserving excremental abuse. So, at the peril of agreeing with "Amanda" that social software isn't all its cracked up to be, she/he/they definitely proved today that the Strumpette contribution to the social sphere is largely worthless noise. Join me in ignoring her/him/them.

Topics: Security, Social Enterprise

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  • Tough love indeed

    I had a similar experience with "Amanda" that bled/blended with the whole hacker debate and ended in a congruent way to your interaction. The strange thing was that I wasn't even talking about the hacker ethic at all, but rather on user generated content in regards to social media.

    She of course took offense on my opinions on the long tail, the low barrier of entry into creating media and the value of making up ones mind on what is of value in "new media." Instead of devolving to profanity though, she called be basic, remedial, and an ingrate. Oh and that my words were like "farts in a bathtub." My guess is all these things were meant to incite me.

    She threw out links to videos from the TED conference about the paradox of choice, and got annoyed when I disagreed with her and finally unsubbed me which I took to be a mark of honor.

    "She" also went to extremes. When I mentioned that I enjoyed the whole idea of being able to choose content I find of value, she went to the extreme thinking that this kind of thought creates chaos and anarchy. That such thinking could make people an easy mark for consumer fraud, bad medical care, etc.

    Long story short, glad it is over.

    "She" had the same attitude with me as with you, she expressed herself as if what she said was fact, not opinion.

    In fact, I find "her" whole persona to be ironic. She disparages all these things about twitter, while having a ton of followers and a large number of "tweets."
    Jim Gleeson
    • Better off without "her"

      So, we agree that she/he/them are a waste of our time!
      Mitch Ratcliffe
  • RE: Amanda Chapel, aka

    I just asked about some Windows problems, next thing I knew he was accusing me of stealing Vista and calling me an idiot.

    His main method is calling names and talking dirty without a coherent train of thought.

    Now,how can one take him seriously after that? :)
  • Tough Love? Bite Me.

    Tough love? The irony here is phenomenal.

    Your article is absolutely captured in your first two sentences: ?I had a strange Twitter back-and-forth with;? ?I personally don?t think.? Exactly. And the rest goes downhill for there.

    Let?s clarify: I was discussing the increasing market incoherence on Twitter. You responded that this was ?a renegotiation is not a revolution.? I then said that a lot of people die during ?renegotiations.? You said it was being done within our current system. I said the ?hacker zeitgeist? is summarily bankrupt and in conflict with our system.

    It was at that point you got all blowhardy about having been to Woodstock (so to speak). It was at that point I emailed you a thoroughly researched scholarly paper on the topic. THAT?S when YOU unraveled. Note here: It takes you just two paragraphs to get in you first ad hominem attack.

    Here: You agree, ?the ?anti-property? character of the hacker ethic, which is somewhat true of some of the hackers, and completely true of a few.? But your gripe is ?its analysis of liberalism is flawed by a neo-Marxist bias that confuses Kantian private reason with Kantian public reason in its examples, and it does not support Amanda?s contention that the hacker ethic is located outside the liberal capitalist system.?

    Well first, I never said ?hacker ethic is located outside the liberal capitalist system.? I said the anti-property aspect of the ?hacker zeitgeist? is in direct conflict with ?possessive individualism,? i.e. property, the cornerstone of our Constitution. Again, read the f-ing paper!

    That?s when you got all blowhardy and continue to do so here.

    Listen bubba, as I said, I don?t give a damn about your ?opinion.? I don?t care if you were to Woodstock. I don?t give a damn that you?ve been writing (wronging) about this stuff for 20 years. What I asked for was the same degree of rigor and research in your refutation as so finely appears in the paper presented. You couldn?t/can?t do that.

    Bottom line: You spend 40 words about a meaningful gripe above. You spend 1,000 posturing, blovating and variously attaching the messenger.

    Tough love? Bite me.


    - Amanda Chapel
    • Please check the record

      I let the exchange stand for itself, despite your attempt to
      make it all My Bad. Having read the paper, and having a bit
      more experience with reading critically than you do, I stand
      by my statement that you are wrong, hacker ethics aren't
      outside the system, so, therefore, there is no revolution. I
      cited several passages from the paper which support my
      position and you, merely to be disagreeable, argued

      Whether you credit actual first-hand knowledge of events
      with the credibility of a single academic paper, which you
      misread or, rather, blew out of proportion, doesn't concern
      me in the slightest. You've demonstrated you argue just to
      hear your own voice.


      Mitch Ratcliffe
      • Yes, indeed... check the record

        Mitch: More experience with reading critically than you do.

        Amanda: Says who? [Insert expletive here.] And that's the problem; you're pretty full of yourself.

        Mitch: I stand by my statement, hacker ethics aren't outside the system.

        Amanda: Never said they are outside the system. I said repeatedly they are a contradiction inside the system.

        Mitch: Therefore, there is no revolution.

        Amanda: And I agreed with you about that. I told you to then tell that to your social media revolutionary evangelists friends!

        Mitch: You, merely to be disagreeable, argued mindlessly.

        Amanda: Again, the irony is unbelievable. I gave you a peer reviewed paper. You said two meaningful sentences in your 1000 word article above, without ANY backup!

        Mitch: Whether you credit actual first-hand knowledge of events or the credibility of a single academic paper...

        Amanda: I credit a comprehensive finely detailed and authoritative paper over the blovations of a blogger any day. Absolutely. Like I said, I don't give a damn about your opinions on ZDNet or otherwise.
  • RE: Amanda Chapel, aka

    Amanda Chapel isn't a woman, it's actually Brian Connolly and his group of schmucks (just do a search for "amanda chapel" + "brian connolly" you'll come up with lots of stuff there). They live for nothing but drama and discourse and aren't happy unless they are causing some kind of "big deal".

    You're experience with him/them is not unlike everyone else's, so take heart you join a great club of us! :)

    It is interesting isn't it, that Brian and the schmucks hide behind this persona and attack people like this? Makes you wonder what all of Brian's clients would think if they knew he was really Amanda Chapel.
    • No, But Cheers Anyway

      For the 1000th time, no, I'm not dear Brian. Brian, we love 'em, is our tech guy. He's also, by design, our fall guy. The plethora of literal minds that CANNOT digest the particular content or argument are ALWAYS COMPELLED to attack him. It's like your Godwin Law Corollary. But we use that as an indication that we've won the debate.

      It also happens to be a drinking game here at the Image Factory. When he's mentioned, everybody has to drink. :)


      - Amanda
  • RE: Amanda Chapel

    Dude, this is trite crap that should be left in the gutters of
    the Net. You're embarrassing yourself giving it this much
    credence. Be bigger.
    • Right On!

      This kind of nonsense is why they no longer show fans running on the field at a ball game. It's no fun if you just ignore them.