modified from Pixabay public domain image

modified from Pixabay public domain image

I’ve flip flopped countless times on whether to publish this, and you may never know if the coin toss lands the last time on “no”. In fact, I bailed on it last night, but the damned thing keeps gnawing at me.

I waver because it sounds a bit petty, defensive, and or combative. And it’s none of those (well petty is always a possibility). The point is not even the point described below, but for me, in thinking through this, I have a minuscule taste of the other side of the privilege that comes with being a white male (a state of matter I can’t change).

With my spate of travel I am mostly getting the outer swirls of #Gamergate from second hand comments and references. The outfall of this is beyond ugly, and when things go from rudeness to physical threats and abuse, things have crossed a line into evil territory. Trying to get to an understanding is hard, I gave Deadspin’s comprehensive The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate one read, and that leaves me still wondering if I “get it”.

This was triggered by a small, what I would guess is a throwaway, vented expression by Audrey Watters in her recent Hack Education Weekly News story Yes, #Gamergate is an Ed-Tech Issue.

I have no disagreement that we (the collective us) have not been paying nearly enough attention to the unfairness and abuse women and other non white non males face in the online spaces. We don’t usually see it, so many can dismiss it as non existent. Yet the more we hear, the more it seems there is more we do not hear. Even more than more.

So to say it is an Ed-Tech issues is a statement worth reverberating and the points raised are ones Ed-Tech practitioners need to chew on. As well the ones stated by John Spencer.

Yet the statement “is an issue” to me has some ambiguity… “is an issue” that Ed-Tech should be more vocal and acting on, hell yes, but to some “is an issue” to some means perhaps limited to or a direct effect of. #Gamergate is an issue way beyond Ed-tech, and even beyond tech; it is, as much as racial issues, much deeper set in our social fabric that we’d tend to believe.

So maybe I want to have a conversation about what it means to be an issue, not to discount that it’s an issue.

Yet this jumps out me, a parenthetical that I see as understandable as a lash out but really not necessary to Audrey’s point.

And I insist that this is an education technology issue. I received some pushback on Twitter last night (from men, go figure) when I made this assertion and asked why ed-tech publications have been so silent on the topic of this ongoing campaign of threats and harassment against women.

This means, if I felt like pushing back, well… go figure. I’m a man.

Got nothing to say. Go figure.

I had pondered recently some twitter discussions from (I think) Mariana Funes and Frances Bell about people feeling silenced online. I did not doubt it but struggled to connect to an experience I could relate.

Got one.

Actually two.

A while back, trying to again parse through a lot of things to get an understanding of #ferguson, I read a strongly expressed opinion I really had some disagreement with their argument. I wanted to engage perhaps in a disagreement or discussion, yet I stopped. How could I contradict, the author, self identified as African American, without being thought of as a white critic?

So I chose not to comment.

Silenced. Go figure.

But the thing is, no one told be to be silent, and my reactions are purely imagined. I have doubt Audrey would call me a misogynist (a word I cannot even pronounce or spell without copying from elsewhere) nor do I really know the author of the #ferguson piece reject my disagreement based on my race.

It’s in my head.

As they say on some social media platform, it’s complicated. It’s f*****ing complicated.

I’m not looking for Audrey to defend the “go figure” statement, it was in the moment. I am actually appreciative to try on this overly tiny feeling of not having a voice. It dwarfs in comparison to what many others deal with.

And before any of this gets better, if it does, it likely needs to get uglier and more truthful.

I have heard more stories from colleagues who have dealt with ugly attacks I have never been “privileged” with. It’s pretty damned rampant. I’ve accepted it happens, but am feeling like I have completely underestimated the size and reach of the hydra.

It should not, and maybe now will start to… cannot be ignored.

Let’s go figure…

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I am sitting on that same bench, figuring along side you. It is important to go figure. I’ve been lucky, like you, not to have issues… but then a month or so ago I was struck into some figuring – I was in a meeting and I asked permission to say something. As the only woman, I asked a load of men if I could talk. ! If you knew me in person, you’d know I am not bashful, in fact I would say I am confident and pretty direct. Fortunately the guys in the meeting were more aware of what I did than I was and they pulled me up on it – did you ‘ask’ to talk??? why would you do that??? …made me think about issues that were or weren’t there and what to do about them. Perhaps the answer starts with communication and awareness, and some sort of shared perspective – to know what all sorts of different people would do in a situation and why, and that may enlighten where these differences exist. Glad you pressed publish – it is a good question to ask.

  2. Thank you for sharing your insight, your story. This “issue” is real and personal and our conversation is the only thing that will help us as a community — EdTech or otherwise — begin to respectfully hear each other.

    So next time, as a “white male” (or anyone for that matter), please don’t be silenced by “the issue”. Embrace it, call it out, then respectfully disagree. If someone can’t live with that, well, that’s a different issue.

    I’m very proud of you and grateful, you “white male” you.


  3. Hello, Alan,

    Wading into these discussions can be difficult – it’s a risk. And at the outset I want to say that I’m bummed we didn’t meet up for coffee yesterday. These things are easier to discuss f2f.

    There are a few things worth drawing out here.

    *Choosing not to speak* is not the same as being silenced. In Gamergate, people are having their contact info – and their friends contact info – posted online. People are receiving rape and death threats – very graphic ones – via social media and message boards. These rape and death threats extend to their partners, parents, and children. Concurrent with this, there are people in the edtech community who are waving the “we need to get more women in tech” and the “games will save education” banners while saying NOTHING about these ongoing events that *directly affect women in tech, in gaming communities*.

    It’s that disconnect – the silence about the misogyny and violence, paired with the naive boosterism that seeks to direct people into environments without sharing the complete picture of what could be waiting for them. And yes, I will say this directly: the silence of edtech publications on issues of race, gender, and equity (both before and during recent events) is an omission that either they should remedy, or that they will have plenty of time to think about when they are replaced by publications that are actually more than warmed over PR releases.

    Second, when we go meta and talk about an issue, we’re still not talking about substance. It’s not an invalid conversation, but it’s not the same as getting in the weeds and untangling the various issues that support or attempt to silence voice.

    Third, we’re both white men. These issues aren’t about us, how we feel, or how we’re worried about we’re perceived. The world is set up to be more receptive to our voice. If there are situations where we feel that our opinions might not be welcomed, well, for many folks, that’s the default. That’s the daily lived experience. But ultimately, these issues aren’t about us. The more we can back away, listen, and/or clear space for other voices, the better.

    1. Thanks Bill; will probably doing a reverse route in late March and will give more notice to meet up. Maybe by then it will all be rainbow unicorns.

      It’s giving me more pause to consider my own boosterism, have wanted to believe in the capabilities of open to help the network nurture itself. By nature victims are isolated, but us as observers and carers can be organized.

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