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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Bizarre Case of Naomi Wu vs Dale Dougherty

So lets start from ground zero.

"Dale Dougherty is the CEO and Founder of Make Media, publisher of Make Magazine. He has been called the “godfather of the Maker movement”, having founded both the magazine and the first Maker Faire in 2006. Dale was instrumental in launching the Maker movement which is reshaping science and technology education and creating unprecedented economic opportunity for young people and a renaissance in urban manufacturing."

"Naomi Wu is a female Maker from China with a huge following on both Twitter an Youtube.
She is a Cantonese DIY maker who lives and works in Shenzhen, China; she is notable for her strong advocacy of women in STEMtranshumanismopen source, and body modifications,[1] variously challenging both gender and tech stereotypes with her flamboyant public persona.[2][3]
Wu first came to public prominence on Reddit, where she has mostly male followers. She maintains active Reddit and Twitter accounts under the noms de plume of SexyCyborg and RealSexyCyborg, respectively, as an internet personality.
Professionally she is a web developer, coding in Ruby on Rails and JavaScript under a masculine pseudonym for overseas clients both for safety's sake and to preclude gender discrimination; she also reviews electronics. [4][5] She regards "Chinese gadgets" as good as or better than foreign.[6] On International Women's Day 2017 she was listed as one of the 43 most influential women in 3D printing, a male-dominated field, by 3D Printer & 3D Printing News.[7]"

The two tweets:


I have been told that "her" is a negative transgender reference. 


Not a real person and she has a team behind the scenes? So what started all of this?

It looks like Dale got upset because he is not a supporter of Trump.   

Dale's defense for his remarks. 

Dale's apology:

Naomi, I apologize for my recent tweets questioning your identity. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.
The invitation that we had previously issued for you to speak on the main stage at the upcoming Maker Faire Shenzhen is still very much in place.  Let me know if you’d like to present, and I will get you scheduled. I invite you to discuss the issues you have raised and your own journey and work as a Maker.

"Sounds like Naomi has been invited and uninvited too many times to count. Also there was no meeting between Make and Naomi during the Shenzhen Faire." 

To Naomi and everyone in the community, I want to say as strongly as I can that we want Make: to be inclusive and provide an arena for all Makers to share their projects, values, challenges, and humanity in a safe and supportive environment. If we fail at that, we take it seriously. I failed on Sunday and learned a valuable lesson from all of you about that. I can do better — and I will.


Defense of Naomi ("A Clash of Cultures")
by Andrew "Bunnie" Hung. Below is what I found interesting in the blog post.

"If someone asked you to draw a picture of an engineer, who would you draw? As you draw the figure, the gender assigned is a reflection of your mental prototype of an engineer – your own prototype bias. Most will draw a male figure. Society is biased to assign high-level intellectual ability to males, and this bias starts at a young age. Situations that don’t fit into your prototypes can feel threatening; studies have shown that men defend their standing by undermining the success of women in STEM initiatives."

"One result of the Idol Effect is that people feel justified taking pot shots at public figures for their shortcomings. For example, I have had the great privilege of working with Edward Snowden. One of my favorite things about working with him is that he is humble and quick to correct misconceptions about his personal abilities. Because of his self-awareness of his limitations, it’s easier for me to trust his assertions, and he’s also a fast learner because he’s not afraid to ask questions. Notably, he’s never claimed to be a genius, so I’m always taken aback when intelligent people pull me aside and whisper in my ear, “You know, I hear Ed’s a n00b. He’s just using you.” Somehow, because of Ed’s worldwide level of fame that’s strongly associated with security technology, people assume he should be a genius level crypto-hacker and are quick to point out that he’s not. Really? Ed is risking his life because he believes in something. I admire his dedication to the cause, and I enjoy working with him because he’s got good ideas, a good heart, and he’s fun to be with.

Because I also have a public profile, the Idol Effect impacts me too. I’m bad at math, can’t tie knots, a mediocre programmer…the list goes on. If there’s firmware in a product I’ve touched, it’s likely to have been written by Sean ‘xobs’ Cross, not me. If there’s analytics or informatics involved, it’s likely my partner wrote the analysis scripts. She also edits all my blog posts (including this one) and has helped me craft my most viral tweets – because she’s a genius at informatics, she can run analyses on how to target key words and pick times of day to get maximum impact. The fact that I have a team of people helping me polish my work makes me look better than I really am, and people tend to assign capabilities to me that I don’t really have. Does this mean I am a front, fraud or a persona?

I imagine Naomi is a victim of Idol Effect too. Similar to Snowden, one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed interacting with Naomi is that she’s been quick to correct misconceptions about her abilities, she’s not afraid to ask for help, and she’s a quick learner. Though many may disapprove of her rhetoric on Twitter, please keep in mind English is her second language — her sole cultural context in which she learned English was via the Internet by reading social media and chat rooms.

Based on the rumors I’ve read, it seems fans and observers have inflated expectations for her abilities, and because of uncorrected prototype bias, she faces extra scrutiny to prove her abilities. Somehow the fact that she almost cuts her finger using a scraper to remove a 3D print is “evidence” that she’s not a Maker. If that’s true, I’m not a Maker either. I always have trouble releasing 3D prints from print stages. They’ve routinely popped off and flown across the room, and I’ve almost cut my fingers plenty of times with the scraper. But I still keep on trying and learning – that’s the point. And then there’s the suggestion that because a man holds the camera, he’s feeding her lines.

When a man harnesses the efforts of a team, they call him a CEO and give him a bonus. But when a woman harnesses the efforts of a team, she gets accused of being a persona and a front. This is uncorrected Prototype Bias meeting unrealistic expectations due to the Idol Effect."

"As CEO of Maker Media and head of an influential media outlet, especially among the DIY community, Dale Dougherty wields substantial power. So a tweet promulgating the idea that Naomi might be a persona or a fake does not land lightly. In the post-truth era, it’s especially incumbent upon traditional media to double-check rumors before citing them in any context.

What is personally disappointing is that Dale reached out to me on November 2nd with an email asking what I thought about an anonymous post that accused Naomi of being a fake. I vouched for Naomi as a real person and as a budding Maker; I wrote back to Dale that “I take the approach of interacting with her like any other enthusiastic, curious Maker and the resulting interactions have been positive. She’s a fast learner.”

Yet Dale decided to take an anonymous poster’s opinion over mine (despite a long working relationship with Make), and a few days later on November 5th he tweeted a link to the post suggesting Naomi could be a fake or a fraud, despite having evidence of the contrary.

So now Naomi, already facing prototype bias and idol-effect expectations, gets a big media personality with substantial power propagating rumors that she is a fake and a fraud.

But wait, it gets worse because Naomi is in China!"

"For better or for worse, the Chinese feel that Western faces and brands are more credible. The endorsement of a famous Western brand carries a lot of weight; for example Leonardo DiCaprio is the brand ambassador for BYD (a large Chinese car maker).

Maker Media has a massive reputation in China. From glitzy Maker Faires to the Communist party’s endorsement of Maker-ed and Maker spaces as a national objective, an association or the lack thereof with Maker Media can make or break a reputation. This is no exception for Naomi. Her uniqueness as a Maker combined with her talent at marketing has enabled her to do product reviews and endorsements as source of income.

However, for several years she’s been excluded from the Shenzhen Maker Faire lineup, even in events that she should have been a shoo-in for her: wearables, Maker fashion shows, 3D printing. Despite this lack of endorsement, she’s built her own social media follower base both inside and outside of China, and built a brand around herself.

Unfortunately, when the CEO of Maker Media, a white male leader of an established American brand, suggested Naomi was a potential fake, the Internet inside China exploded on her. Sponsors cancelled engagements with her. Followers turned into trolls. She can’t be seen publicly with men (because others will say the males are the real Maker, see “prototype bias”), and as a result faces a greater threat of physical violence.

A single innuendo, amplified by Power Asymmetry and Guanxi Bias, on top of Idol Effect meshed against Prototype Bias, has destroyed everything a Maker has worked so hard to build over the past few years.

If someone spread lies about you and destroyed your livelihood – what would you do? Everyone would react a little differently, but make no mistake: at this point she’s got nothing left to lose, and she’s very angry."

Next can Namomi Wu sue Dale Dougherty?

"There is always a delicate balance between one person's right to freedom of speech and another's right to protect their good name. It is often difficult to know which personal remarks are proper and which run afoul of defamation law.
The term "defamation" is an all-encompassing term that covers any statement that hurts someone's reputation. If the statement is made in writing and published, the defamation is called "libel." If the hurtful statement is spoken, the statement is "slander." The government can't imprison someone for making a defamatory statement since it is not a crime. Instead, defamation is considered to be a civil wrong, or a tort. A person that has suffered a defamatory statement may sue the person that made the statement under defamation law.
Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation. On one hand, people should be free to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. Discourse is essential to a free society, and the more open and honest the discourse, the better for society.

Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit

Defamation law changes as you cross state borders, but there are normally some accepted standards that make laws similar no matter where you are. If you think that you have been the victim of some defamatory statement, whether slander or libel, then you will need to file a lawsuit in order to recover. Generally speaking, in order to win your lawsuit, you must show that:
  1. Someone made a statement;
  2. that statement was published;
  3. the statement caused you injury;
  4. the statement was false; and
  5. the statement did not fall into a privileged category.
Me: I think  Andrew "Bunnie" Hung's blog posts effectively answers all 5 elements of a defamation lawsuit.  
To get a better grasp of what you will need to do to win your defamation lawsuit, let's look at each element more closely.
The Statement -- A "statement" needs to be spoken, written, or otherwise expressed in some manner. Because the spoken word often fades more quickly from memory, slander is often considered less harmful than libel.
Publication -- For a statement to be published, a third party must have seen, heard or read the defamatory statement. A third party is someone apart from the person making the statement and the subject of the statement. Unlike the traditional meaning of the word "published," a defamatory statement does not need to be printed in a book. Rather, if the statement is heard over the television or seen scrawled on someone's door, it is considered to be published.
Injury -- To succeed in a defamation lawsuit, the statement must be shown to have caused injury to the subject of the statement. This means that the statement must have hurt the reputation of the subject of the statement. As an example, a statement has caused injury if the subject of the statement lost work as a result of the statement.
Falsity -- Defamation law will only consider statements defamatory if they are, in fact, false. A true statement, no matter how harmful, is not considered defamation. In addition, because of their nature, statements of opinion are not considered false because they are subjective to the speaker.
Unprivileged -- Lastly, in order for a statement to be defamatory, it must be unprivileged. Lawmakers have decided that you cannot sue for defamation in certain instances when a statement is considered privileged. For example, when a witness testifies at trial and makes a statement that is both false and injurious, the witness will be immune to a lawsuit for defamation because the act of testifying at trial is privileged.
Whether a statement is privileged or unprivileged is a policy decision that rests on the shoulders of lawmakers. The lawmakers must weigh the need to avoid defamation against the importance that the person making the statement have the free ability to say what they want.
Witnesses on the stand at trial are a prime example. When a witness is giving his testimony, we, as a society, want to ensure that the witness gives a full account of everything without holding back for fear of saying something defamatory. Likewise, lawmakers themselves are immune from defamation suits resulting from statements made in legislative chamber or in official materials.
Social Media and Defamation
With the rise of social media, it’s now easier than ever to make a defamatory statement. That’s because social media services like Twitter and Facebook allow you to instantly "publish" a statement that can reach thousands of people. Whether it’s a disparaging blog post, Facebook status update, or YouTube video, online defamation is treated the same way as more traditional forms. That means you can be sued for any defamatory statements you post online.
Higher Burdens for Defamation -- Public Officials and Figures
Our government places a high priority on the public being allowed to speak their mind about elected officials as well as other public figures. People in the public eye get less protection from defamatory statements and face a higher burden when attempting to win a defamation lawsuit.
When an official is criticized in a false and injurious way for something that relates to their behavior in office, the official must prove all of the above elements associated with normal defamation, and must also show that the statement was made with "actual malice."
"Actual malice" was defined in a Supreme Court case decided in 1988, Hustler v. Falwell. In that case, the court held that certain statements that would otherwise be defamatory were protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The court reasoned that the United States society had a "profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open."
This meant, according to the Court, that public officials could only win a defamation suit when the statement that was made was not an honest mistake and was in fact published with the actual intent to harm the public figure. According to the Court, actual malice only occurs when the person making the statement knew the statement was not true at the time he made it, or had reckless disregard for whether it was true or not.
For other people that are in the public eye, but not public officials, the defamation laws are also different. These people, such as celebrities and movie stars, must also prove, in most situations, that the defamatory statements were made with actual malice.
Freedom of speech is less meaningful when a statement is made about a private individual because the statement is probably not about a matter of public importance. As noted above, a private person has no need to show that the statement maker acted with actual malice in order to be victorious in their defamation lawsuit."

Link for more information!
It looks to me like Naomi could easily win a defamation suit against Dale. What does everyone else think?

Questions still outstanding for me.

1. Why does Dale have some much hate and anger directed at Naomi

2. How long has Dale been trying to discredit Naomi behind the scenes and why?

3. Have other members of Make tried to discredit Naomi behind the scenes too and for how long?

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