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Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times announced it was hiring an opinion writer named Quinn Norton to write about “the power, culture, and consequences of technology.” Late Tuesday night, the Times fired her.
Norton, a writer-activist who covered, among other things, the Occupy and Anonymous movements for WIRED in the 2000s, has been an outspoken voice for hackers, the open-source and free-speech communities, and people working on digital security and privacy. She has been a chronicler and target of harassment online and in the physical world, and she was the romantic partner and friend of Aaron Swartz, the renowned coder and activist who committed suicide in the face of a federal investigation of his activities. Norton knows the field, in other words.
World - Experts - Ebb - Flow - Communities
Arguably one of the world’s experts on the ebb and flow of online communities, Norton didn’t exactly try to defend herself. The use of—oy, find me a better way to say this than “the N-word,” but OK—was part of an ill-conceived retweet of John Perry Barlow, who was trying to make a point about racists. Those similarly foreclosed-upon words referring to gay people were sometimes, Norton said, because she herself has been active in the queer community and were covered by in-group privilege, and sometimes because she was code-switching to the language of 4chan and other online groups that use vile epithets like cooks use salt.
Complicated. And, as Norton is a journalist covering free-speech and privacy issues online, maybe this kind of language isn’t just allowed but appropriate. She’s speaking the language of the people she writes about.
But what about the friends-with-Nazis thing?
In particular, Norton had defended Andrew Auernheimer, a hacker (who wrote an opinion piece for WIRED in 2012) and went to prison in 2013. Upon his release about a year later, Auernheimer said that he was also a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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