Re: FoRKers in techsploitation

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From: Mike Masnick (
Date: Thu Dec 28 2000 - 17:59:14 PST

Funny how these things work. A twenty minute interview where I said some
pretty damn funny things, and all that comes out of it is my name spelled
wrong and the impression that I created out of some
political crusade against the lameness of the other site - which was what
Ms. Newitz wanted. She kept asking leading questions, and even admitted
that she was putting words in my mouth when I accused her of it. Now
Christie's hip urban chicks are going to come firebomb my house or
something (or at least mark me as "unworthy" of hip urban chicks). Oh well.
 I've also been contacted by some bigger name media organizations about the
site but no stories yet (other than a mention in Salon).

Anyway, fame can be costly. The woman I've been seeing (who I think keeps
trying to turn me into more of a hip urban dude) seems to think that this
is proof that I'm hopeless. She's probably right.


At 01:53 PM 12/28/00 -0800, Rohit Khare wrote:
>Actually, every week I've been here in the Valley, Metro has carried
>Newitz' coverage of one FoRKer or another. The last two are worth
>reading in full. Hi Manoj!
>> Sure, there were DJs (including the ravishing Laura, spouse of
>>Collabnet CTO and Apache poster boy Brian), and chocolate delicacies
>>to eat, and the crucial free drinks.... I even got to bond with the
>>dashing engineer Manoj, who confessed that he would rather not code
>>for users, or clients, or even for hardware. "Actually, I think I
>>should just be pure energy," he proclaimed grandly. "Then I could
>>code from within the pattern buffer of a transporter device." My
>>kind of geek.
>Not a media whore,
>What geeks want
>by annalee newitz
>AN INORDINATELY LARGE number of people seem fascinated by how geeks
>mate. Maybe it's because people who work with computers have often
>been stereotyped as virginal perverts, and nothing intrigues us more
>than an erotic paradox. Or possibly it's because high-tech work seems
>so otherworldly that it's hard to reconcile the idea of heated
>eroticism with giant rooms full of chilled servers. Whatever the
>reason for our interest, there's a mini-industry (online and off)
>devoted to geek dating, geek love, and of course, geek sex.
>Canadian Web site (home of techie cartoonists
>Nitrozac and Snaggy) offers "geek erotica" films - gloved hands
>fondle disk slots and power buttons, then get truly kinky with
>hard-drive bays and ethernet connections. Other sites, such as
>Nerdslut ( and
>, offer tips for the lovelorn geek and the geeklorn
>lover. Nerd Slut even runs polls on eternal questions like, "Are
>smart girls better in bed?"
>Of course, ever since Bill Gates become one of the richest bastards
>on the planet, geeks have been invested with the seductiveness that
>comes with social and economic power. A whole service sector has
>sprung up around the idea that geek men are an untapped financial
>resource for the women who are willing to cater to their sexual and
>emotional needs. The irrepressible Caity MacPherson's porn site Juicy
>Mango is home to a now infamous series of pictures featuring nude
>models posing next to tech company signs. The idea, said MacPherson,
>is to pique geeks' interest - and get them to pony up some cash - by
>drilling down into their deepest, nerdiest desires.
>Massage therapist-cum-fashion consultant Christie McClelland recently
>launched the nefarious Geek Boy Services, where she promises that
>dorky boys willing to spend 700 bucks on clothes (and 300 bucks on
>her "services") can learn to dress for chick-scoring success. The
>idea behind her site is clear: geeky boys have got cash muscle now,
>so it's time for them to learn how to attract the kinds of
>superficial, image-conscious girls they've seen on TV.
>But is this what geeks really want? Mike Mesnick, the brains behind
>Techdirt, doesn't think so. He launched a geek-driven parody of
>McClelland's site called Geek Girl Services, which promises to help
>women become geekier by taking them shopping at computer superstore
>Fry's and teaching them how to install the Linux operating system. "I
>thought [McClelland's site] was lame, and it's scary that people are
>going to pay this woman $1,000," Mesnick said.
>Interestingly, Mesnick has become a kind of cause célèbre among
>women. The vast majority of the e-mail he has received in response to
>his parody site "is actually from females, most of whom were offended
>by the original site and felt the need to apologize to me for it or
>to apologize generally for all the women who are trying to change
>And Mesnick isn't the only one who has responded scornfully to the
>idea that geeks need to shed their technoculture in order to be
>attractive. About nine months ago, a group of bored sysadmins at
> were so disgusted by the show Who Wants to Marry a
>Millionaire? that they slapped together a Web site called Who Wants
>to Marry a Sysadmin? ( Chuck Sumner, who
>currently runs the site, helped put together the vital stats on some
>sysadmin "bachelors" and "bachelorettes," who happily report their
>favorite UNIX commands, editors, and - most importantly - the output
>of "uname -a". New bachelors can add their pictures to the site if
>they correctly answer a series of questions about system
>"We got so many responses and pictures that we had a wall of photos
>at Spinner," said Sumner, who ended up going out on dates with a
>couple of his correspondents. "I don't have any plans for the future
>of the site," he laughs, "Although maybe I could add a sysadmin
>webcam - that would be sooooo exciting. It could be all images of
>computers computing."
>For the geekishly sexual and proud, there are also some babes at
>, a parody porn site that features images of sysadmins
>licking and caressing a huge Sun server, along with some "bondage"
>pictures of people tied to server racks with cables.
>What sites like these prove is that geeks are already sexual, thank
>you very much, and they have an attitude about it, too. So what do
>geeks want? According to Jed Dobson, one of the eligible bachelors at
>Who Wants to Marry a Sysadmin?, it's simple: "A cute honey who can
>cuddle up to the sounds of disks spinning."
>Annalee Newitz ( is a surly media nerd
>who likes to talk dirty about Java objects. Her column also appears
>in Metro, Silicon Valley's weekly newspaper
>by annalee newitz
>I TOOK A break from thinking about unionizing dot-coms this week -
>but don't worry, I'll get back to it. This was one of those weeks
>where I wanted to take a break from everything, including having a
>brain that's reality-compatible.
>I feel like I'm surrounded by free-floating economic anxiety. Part of
>this, no doubt, is coming from the fact that I'm obsessively reading
>about Bay Area electricity shortages, Internet industry layoffs, and
>the early stages of union-busting at But part of it is
>because I'm not just reading about it. Many of my friends have been
>laid off from their dot-com jobs, or been demoted, or had their
>salaries slashed. People who would have turned up their noses at a
>50K annual income last year are now scrabbling to get less than that
>by contracting, freelancing, and hustling.
>Meanwhile, Charles and I managed to work ourselves up into a paranoid
>froth over our nonexistent retirement funds. I have a grand total of
>500 bucks in my IRA, which I just opened last year. Charles reported
>that he puts a trivial amount of cash into his retirement account per
>year. But both of us have friends - still shakily employed in various
>dot-com jobs - who pack more than $1,500 per month into their
>company's lucrative 401(k) plans. People in their early 20s are
>already planning their retirement, but Charles and I (both born in
>the fine year 1969) are planning our lives with the idea that we'll
>never be able to retire.
>We realized that we would probably be retiring into poverty if we
>stopped working. "Think about it," I said darkly, "we won't have any
>social security or Medicare. We're writers, and we haven't really
>made enough money to save up for a nice house or health care. We'll
>be living in a fucking trailer in Montana." Charles began speculating
>about the environment: "And we'll have skimmed off the ozone layer,
>and the planet will be getting hotter, and everyone will be
>cancer-ridden." I finished up for him: "And since we'll have no
>health care, and we'll be old, we'll be the ones full of cancer who
>have to keep working until we die."
>Charles started making plans for how we'd begin saving money, stop
>going out to dinner, put more cash into our IRAs. And I shrugged off
>his suggestions - for a utopian, I can be pretty fatalistic. I have
>hope for the distant future, but not the immediate one. I guess I get
>that from watching too much Star Trek, where the 21st and 22nd
>centuries are represented as a postapocalyptic Middle Ages, complete
>with witch hunts and impoverished peasants and crazed monarchs.
>Needless to say, I was in a pretty foul mood when Ed invited me to
>the Collabnet holiday party at San Francisco's swanky new bobo bar,
>Sno Drift. What the hell, I thought to myself. Maybe I'd never be
>able to retire, but at least I'd have high-tech company parties to
>keep me drunk in the meantime. Besides, Collabnet is one of those
>groovy new open-source companies whose exploits I'd been following
>(and writing about) in the news. They're fighting the good fight,
>bringing Linux to places like Sun, a corporate giant famous for its
>investment in proprietary software.
>After Ed had fussed over his outfit for what seemed to be a 24-hour
>period - he finally decided on a fuzzy red skirt and patent leather
>corset - he and Jesse and I headed out to schmooze and booze with the
>open-source geeks. "Will there be engineers there?" I asked Ed
>fretfully, fearing a party full of marketing types whose jobs I
>couldn't fathom. "I think so," Ed responded unhelpfully.
>As soon as we walked in the door, it was clear that Collabnet doesn't
>just represent the future of software production. It also represents
>the future of Internet companies generally, with their "corrected"
>expectations about the economic future in the wake of the Nasdaq dip
>and V.C. pullout. Unlike one of those notorious, psychotically
>expensive dot-com parties packed with servants bearing champagne or
>shucking mounds of raw oysters onto tubs of ice, this dot-net shindig
>looked like your standard-issue office party. Sure, there were DJs
>(including the ravishing Laura, spouse of Collabnet CTO and Apache
>poster boy Brian), and chocolate delicacies to eat, and the crucial
>free drinks. But it wasn't opulent by any means.
>It felt like a genuine San Francisco party, not some kind of
>Hollywood re-creation of Caligula's Rome. Even Last Gasp honcho Ron
>Turner came with his lovely retinue, promptly charming everyone into
>not asking how he'd found out about the party. And Susie was there,
>talking to a cute boy named Dan, who revealed to me later that he
>owns the URL I even got to bond with the dashing engineer
>Manoj, who confessed that he would rather not code for users, or
>clients, or even for hardware. "Actually, I think I should just be
>pure energy," he proclaimed grandly. "Then I could code from within
>the pattern buffer of a transporter device." My kind of geek.
>As we left the party, I allowed myself to wonder, hopefully, if
>someday things might be normal again - no more economic bubbles and
>real estate bubbles, accompanied by endless layoffs and evictions.
>Then I went to bed, and dreamed all night about spaceships.
>Annalee Newitz ( is a surly media nerd
>who agrees with Paul that writers never retire. Her column also
>appears in Metro, San Jose's weekly newspaper.

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