Samantha, Marco, GamerGate and Bias

Everyone have a bias. It’s natural and human nature and there is nothing wrong with that. Once you understand this you can then proceed with deciding is someone’s message and overall point is something you agree with. It’s not something easy to do but we should all practice it because it can lead to a mutual respect even if you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion.

If you don’t know what I’m “sub-blogging1” about, I’m talking about the whole Macro Arment/Samatha Bielefeld incident which started last week and is still going this week like a zombie on the trail of some brains. What started out as an opinion2 piece Ms. Bielefeld wrote wondering if the patronage model Overcast3 has switched to in lieu of in-app purchases would be sustainable for more unknown developers.

This quickly devolved into accusations of counting Macro Arment’s money, not being respectful enough in the opinion, and other things which I can’t remember right now. Additionally, Samantha Bielefeld is a pseudonym and she has been accused of hiding behind a wall of anonymity. Other people decided to pile on picking on little details in her story (which she corrected) and there were threat of violence made against her.

Now that I’ve gotten the crux of the story out of the way, I’d like to unpack my thoughts about this whole incident:

  1. I am really astonished that we have gotten to the point where a person could be so insulted for asking (in my opinion) a legitimate question about the economics of the App Store for iOS where a race to the bottom has happened and very few applications have a perceived value.

  2. This has a lot of the same characteristics as Gamergate had but, there is a lot less outrage. Especially women who were threatened have turned a blind eye. Why is this? I have two answers. The first answer is the “wrong” person was criticized4. In the Apple world, Mr. Arment runs is the highest of circles. He is part of what John C. Welch calls “The Deck Clique”, named for the ad network Marco and others use on their blog. The second possible reason for the lack of outrage is Samantha is the “wrong” kind of woman. I am not in the habit of attacking people’s private lives so I’ll leave it at that.

  3. I’m disappointed in the reaction by a lot of the members of the Apple press. People who I respected and thought highly of didn’t do the right thing here. I have been pretty annoyed at what passes for Apple “news” sites of late and I have been considering pruning my RSS and podcast feeds. This has made the decision a lot easier for me. As a result I have decided to unsubscribe from any podcasts on the Relay-FM network. I know I’m a very, very small fish in a very large pond but I feel it is something which is needed to be done.

Everyone has their right to their opinion and to voice their opinion and it should be done in a thoughtful, respectful manner. I believe Samantha Bielefeld’s article did that. It wasn’t a screed or a hit piece and there were no ad hominem attacks. Constructive criticism like this can be given (and was) without genuflecting to the person you are criticizing.

  1. I think that is a new term I’ve created. 
  2. For those who are unfamiliar with the term it means a personal view, attitude, or appraisal. 
  3. It’s still my podcast player of choice. 
  4. To the best of my knowledge no other publisher is going with this business model. I don’t know how Mrs. Bielefeld could have picked someone else.