On Being @paxdickinson
you know, That Guy With The Tweets.
I’m Pax Dickinson, founder of Glimpse, a forthcoming encryption based ephemeral picture messaging app. Preregistration is up at MyFOIA.com and I’m really excited about starting something new, it’s going to be…
But that’s not what you’re here for. You’re here reading this because I’m That Guy, the one that lost his job as Business Insider CTO over those tweets.
I know that this won’t change the way some of you feel about me, but I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify a few things. I’m glad to be able to tell you I’m not racist or misogynistic or any of these labels that are being put on me. I’m glad to have this chance to reply, “But that was a funny and relevant satirically anti-racist Mel Gibson joke 3 1/2 years ago” and exclaim, “I meant that unicorns are mythically rare but also highly valued and impossible to catch!” I’m glad I can point to my long NYC tech career of successful association with people of all conceivable backgrounds. I’m happy to point out that for the last three years and until yesterday I reported to a woman and my longest tenured senior developer under me was a woman. And finally I’m thrilled to report that nearly every single person who knows me personally finds the overheated accusations leveled at me in the media to be ludicrous.
I don’t think any of that will really help, though. The people who want to hate me for making jokes while having disallowed politics aren’t going to be swayed by facts or logic. They need a folk devil for their moral panic. They’ll keep using my Halloween pictures for their posts and harassing my former co-workers and friends.
Clark at Popehat got across the general nature of my Twitter feed in a blog post earlier today:
Pax is an opinionated, semi- neo-reactionary, frequently hilarious, performance-artist who tweets with a faux-brogrammer alter ego.
He makes outrageous tweets, asserting things like he invented the question mark (well, no, really – that’s from a Mike Meyers character) and delights in baiting defenders of free speech into calling for censorship (“heightening the contradictions” as Lenin and Saul Alinsky would say).
His detractors would say that he’s crude and insulting, and while there’s some truth to that, what they miss is that the vast majority of his tweets are based off of current events and slyly reference existing memes. When I used the phrase “performance art” before, that wasn’t just a lazy way of saying “he’s an asshole in public and I like listening to assholes”. There are tons of assholes on twitter, and I end up blocking most of them, even the ones that I sort of agree with politically. I dislike crudity, racial stereotyping, insults for the sake of insults, etc.
…as does Pax. I note that he criticized the two-day-ago the “titstare” app as being in poor taste and classless, even as he fine-tooth-comb criticized criticism of it as being poorly written.
I suggest reading the whole thing (it’s longer than anything ever on Business Insider other than that Marissa Mayer post). Clark makes some great points about the bigger picture of all this better than I ever could. I don’t think I need to belabor the point right now other than to say, if you read one of my tweets and think it might be sarcastic, it definitely definitely is. (People, do you think I actually care about my Klout score? Come on!)
I don’t harbor hard feelings against Business Insider for asking me to resign, the atmosphere became such that I don’t condemn that decision. I know it was a difficult decision and I may not agree but I understand it.
It’s an example of how perverse reality is that I’ve been working on a project that applies directly to my current situation. I’ve been working on the idea part-time but I’m actually now pretty excited to get to focus on it full-time. Being CTO at Business Insider was stressful and grueling, I not infrequently worked 70-80+ hour weeks juggling the duties of CTO of a company that size and to have all that suddenly become not my responsibility feels like a weight has been lifted. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the job but there’s no denying it was hard work and long hours.
My new venture, Glimpse, is an ephemeral photo sharing app with strong NSA-proof encryption. Ironically an app like this may have prevented me from getting in trouble over a 3 and a half year old tweet.
I’m living proof that ephemeral social networks are preferable to persistent ones and the intersection of social and cryptography is so relevant to freedom of speech and expression right now. My opinions may be controversial but it should be obvious from my reputation that I won’t back down to NSA bullying. I believe as strongly as anyone that freedom of expression should be protected and that it’s threatened by the government but also by a politically biased progressive shaming culture in our media.
I have a page up at MyFOIA.com offering preregistration of usernames for a small donation towards continued production of the app, which will be available to everyone free on IOS later this year, shortly thereafter on Android. For a slightly larger donation I’ll file a Freedom of Information Act request on your behalf with the NSA asking for any information they’ve collected on you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to make a larger donation or discuss a potential investment.
I’m excited to be starting something new, and working for myself and on behalf of my supporters and investors to build something great. I have a strong vision for this product and starting my own company will mean I get to make an app with great features exactly the way I want.
I’ll also get to keep tweeting the way I want. I hope those of you who understand and get my jokes will be following.