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[liberationtech] My SXSW exposé in the Washington Post!

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Fri Mar 15 12:07:25 PDT 2013

On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 2:21 PM, John Adams <jna at> wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM, Shava Nerad <shava23 at> wrote:
>> It's cool to go and it's cool to say it's completely past it's prime and
>> useless to go.  It seems to me that anyone who went could make their own
>> conference for any agenda they arrived with.  Then you balance that against
>> how you feel about the Minority Report marketing feels to you and so on --
>> but frankly, although for those who are in the nonprofit world this may
>> feel excessive, to those in the commercial world this is normal to relaxed.
>>  If this is a window into how the other half lives maybe we should get out
>> of the ivory tower more often?
> There's much in this paragraph that comes of as tin-foil hat levels of
> paranoia, but I won't address them. Instead, I often wonder if non-profits
> used more metrics and got their business acumen together if more things
> would get done. There is so much reliance on hearsay and gut instinct that
> everything comes across as poorly planned.
> There's also the overwhelming reliance to assume that any sort of tracking
> is 100% evil. You'd complain if people who didn't pay took your (paid) seat
> at that EFF panel you wanted to go watch as well.
> The level of fraud that happens at SXSW used to be very high -- they had
> to incorporate RFID into badges and QR codes and a database to ensure
> people weren't stealing $1500 badges. I don't agree entirely with the
> technologies used but I do agree with people not being able to forge the
> badges.
lol, perhaps your interpretation of my copy would be a little different if
you knew that previously I had been a VP/marketing and bizdev for an
Inc1000/Inc Urban 100 company, third fastest growing private company in
Oregon, etc., in the entertainment business, with a client rolodex
including HBO and so on.  I was (and could easily be again) among what many
people might consider among the marketing douchebags, at one point close to
(and somewhat senior to) people like Chris Brogan and so on.  Nick
Matthewson from Tor was very reluctant, seeing my resume, to even talk to
me, I was so obviously a suit, on paper.  But he and I became the best of

I am a chameleon and a social engineer (all really good marketing people
are social engineers whether they understand it or not).

I have long been a person bringing the lessons of business to nonprofits
and vice versa.  It's why I'm making these comments.  I can't see paranoia
there at all -- I'm asking people to drop their attitudes and have a better
time taking advantage of the resources they find and what they can observe.
 Why have all that opportunity all around you and just grouse about it,
except to make yourself look more sophisticated than the poor plebes you
see around you?

That's what I mean by cool.  It's not a compliment.

Geeks tend to grab knowledge and soak it up, perhaps adding disclaimers in
their final reports.  Cool people distance themselves from knowledge, with
fireworks, and tend to learn very little.  There's *my* tin hat.  I find
meta poseurs tiresome.  Is that frank enough?

And, my dog is chipped.  Perhaps PETA would call it slavery?  Context is in
fact everything.  No one will die if they rfid a badge at SXSW.  I am
casual about a great many commercial transactions, including supermarket
loyalty cards.   I use a "Charlie Card" on the MBTA in Boston, and dearly
wish I had better faith in how the MBTA held stewardship of the data. I
have a very pretty red leather Faraday cage wallet that is not particularly
different than most other folks' accessories and cheaper than many.  But I
worry a great deal about other people in more sensitive situations than my
own -- or if anyone in government should ever decide I need to be taken
down a la Aaron.  And my attitude about tracking goes very much downhill
from there -- if yours doesn't it's likely you aren't paying attention.

So, I took a career change and a cut from my commercial pay to help Tor
become a nonprofit and create an image for them as a champion of human
rights, and establish funding and such.  It was framing, marketing, PR,
business like, and effective, in the year and a half I was there.

I'm rather looking forward to finding someone to put on my dance card later
this year when my mom (sadly) goes into a nursing home later this year and
I return to the working world and get to do transformative things again --
no idea if they'll be in business, politics, government, or nonprofits.
 You can move from any to any if you understand them well enough and bring
improvements -- isn't that what you're saying?


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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