Reply All: #69 Disappeared
July 7, 2016 1:59 PM - Subscribe

This week a man decides to sabotage the entire internet. Plus, PJ discovers the secret code he's accidentally been speaking, and learns about the people who created it.
posted by radioamy (21 comments total)
 
I thought the "episode" was okay, but the YYN follow-up was GREAT. Very humble and thoughtful.

Highly recommend Paris is Burning if you haven't seen it!
posted by radioamy at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wow. The main episode part about the library deletion was interesting enough. I nearly stopped listening because I assumed the YYN follow-up would be some minor shit I wasn:t interested in but I'm so glad I didn't. One of the most astonishing pieces of radio I've ever heard.

Firstly credit to the guys for taking criticism/commentary on board and addressing it. Mainly though, this wasn't a story I knew and it was fascinating, heartbreaking and beautiful.
posted by Dext at 4:37 PM on July 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, same. I listened to the first part, thought "wow, what a wankfest, I sure am tired of getting lectured about open source", and shut it off. Then later today I decided I might as well finish it. Wow.
posted by selfnoise at 5:58 PM on July 7, 2016


The linguistics of that ball (sub?)culture lexicon is pretty interesting. I remember picking up the term "sketchy" for "questionable" maybe 15 or 20 years ago (as in, "he's acting sketchy")... which doesn't seem to be quite the same sense as throwing shade, but not entirely divorced either. But "yas" and its variants I only recall seeing recently, maybe as far as a year or so back, and somehow intuited that it came from a LGBT context, maybe because it seemed like it was used more in the diction of members of that community. I haven't seen Paris is Burning but I get the impression it chronicles events 30 years ago or so. Strange how those terms have broken out into wider recognition now (i.e.,. such that two of 3 straight white guys doing a podcast were familiar with it). I wonder how that came to pass.
posted by axiom at 9:15 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I haven't listened yet but I was wondering if they were going to talk about how that previous YYN was slang that originated specifically with queer PoC. It was so surreal to hear straight guys even saying "yasss/drag him" in the first place, but also to then hear it misattributed as generic internet slang when it has such a specific history was really surprising and disappointing. Looking forward to listening.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:50 PM on July 7, 2016


I didn't know about the history of "yas" or pretty much anything covered in the second segment.

Seriously Alex, if you're reading these comments, that was one of the best segments I've heard on any podcast in a long long long time. Thank you so much. If we could get more like this, I would GREATLY enjoy a series of episodes that covered "Internet slang that has been appropriated from marginalized subcultures."
posted by Tevin at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yes (yas?), that Yes, Yes, No follow up was amazing. I knew the Yas Gaga origin, and thought it was weird they didn't cover that last week. But knowing it goes so much deeper and the story of the houses was just amazing. And sad. Blew away the "main" story.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:21 PM on July 8, 2016


In a weird bit of synchronicity, I finally watched Paris Is Burning for the first time just this week. (It was amazing: everyone should see it!) So that YYN segment came as a delightful little lagniappe.
posted by Superplin at 10:19 AM on July 9, 2016


Yeah, I just listened to this today and the follow up to the YYN really moved me more than I expected. When I listened to the previous ep, the bit about "yaas" did make me think "yeah, no guys, you just missed it - that's a drag culture thing" but I guess I let it go. When I heard this ep and they started to talk about it I expected "oh, they're gonna acknowledge it's a drag thing and that's it." But NO, they dove in deep, all the way, and really looked into what does it mean for straight white people to absorb black queer culture without even knowing it.

I'm not black, but I'm gay, and "Paris Is Burning" was a big part of my gay awakening when I was in college, so I've known these terms like "shade" and "reading" and "serving up realness" for decades, and on the one hand it feels like some kind of acceptance to see them become mainstream, but on the other it irks me how many people don't even know what they're saying and where it comes from. This segment was a wonderful discussion of that phenomenon, and I'm happy that it's out there for people to hear and learn from.

And I hope P.J. goes to that ball and takes lots of pictures!
posted by dnash at 4:34 PM on July 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Am I the only person who didn't know the term "yas"? I have probably come across it on Twitter, and I think there is a "Yassss" Bitmoji but I had no idea it was such a thing. (I don't watch Broad City because I didn't find the first few episodes funny, but that's another conversation.)
posted by radioamy at 9:33 PM on July 9, 2016


Also i still don't quite understand what "yas queen" means please hope me.
posted by radioamy at 9:36 PM on July 9, 2016


Take this bi white lady's interpretation with a grain of salt: You say it when someone is not only right, they are amazing. It's something you might shout from the sidelines if you're watching your best friend succeed at something.
posted by CMcG at 4:31 AM on July 10, 2016


Count me in as someone who really appreciated the YYN follow up this week. I think I had seen "yas" on Twitter maybe once or twice and honestly thought it was a typo. When I heard their original take on it I took it at face value. So hearing a correction this week, and a really in depth one at that, was very beneficial. Hearing that "shade" (which I am only slightly more aware of than "yas") originated in ball culture really got me thinking about how much slang has been culturally appropriated without a vast majority of users knowing it. Are there any podcasts out there that someone can recommend which talk about language evolving from group slang to popular usage?

Also, I knew they'd be doing a story on left pad at some point so I was excited to hear it, but it seemed like it wasn't a very deep cut into the story. It was basically guy got into a tiff with a corporation, pulled his code and stuff broke. I really would have liked to hear more about stuff that broke and the "real world" consequences.
posted by noneuclidean at 4:57 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


And also why so much live code was depending on libraries that could change at any time instead of cached, known, tested local copies
posted by halfsquaretriangle at 5:44 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


One thing that kinda bugged me is that they were talking about this as an "open source" problem, when really it doesn't have a lot to do with that, but rather that most websites have chains of dependencies on other servers. That's an interesting issue with the modern web in and of itself I think, but they didn't really go there as much as I wanted them to (e.g., how we got there, what the advantages of that situation are if any, etc). If anything, this is a case where open source enabled people to find a workable solution, because if that dude's libraries weren't under such a generous license to begin with, npm would have basically had no recourse.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:32 AM on July 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh my! The YYN is making me cry right now. I knew it came from gay culture and was irritated that they got it wrong last time but going full force into the story and the background about the families in the houses is just making me tear up. Such a good episode.
posted by kanata at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The interview with Jose Xtravaganza really made this for me. I'm super glad they made that effort and didn't just signpost back to Paris is Burning; it's one thing to say these terms have a rich human history, or to talk about appropriation, or to refer people to an existing documentary, but hearing JX describe the language of the ball scene as a "code", and talk concretely about the losses he and his community suffered, really brought everything home. Just referring to PiB wouldn't give people that context.

(Venus Xtravaganza's hate-crime murder is mentioned in PiB, but I hadn't realized that by 2009, basically every featured performer had been lost, most to AIDS-related illnesses -- even though the film was only released in 1991. I thought that link, fwiw, was also good reading on PiB more generally -- it covers both the positive and the critical response.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:13 AM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


1) The extended Yes/Yes/No segment was incredible.

2) The conclusions made during NPM segment were so wrong that I can't believe they were aired.

Like, need-to-issue-a-retraction levels of wrong.

If nothing else, I have some pretty serious doubts that PJ and Alex discussed them with Laurie Voss, or any of the other technical consultants that they brought on.

en forme de poire's comment is pretty much spot-on. The Open Source community can be chaotic, but that wasn't really the issue here. The big issue was that the NPM registry is a distribution hub with a single point of failure (which is endemic of a broader trend of centralization on the web, and a topic that would make for an excellent episode of Reply All).

The fact that left-pad and the NPM registry itself are open-source greatly mitigated the problem, to the point where it was basically a non-issue that was corrected in a few hours. Unrestricted redistribution is literally the first part of the (widely-accepted) Open Source Definition.

No major sites experienced downtime, and at the very worst, the incident caused some lost productivity.

Here's a better analogy:
Imagine that everything in the world is built out of Legos. Everybody gets their Legos from the Lego Store, where they're free for some reason.

For obvious reasons, the Lego Store has no competitors.

Now, imagine that one day, one of the Lego store's suppliers throws a tantrum, and decides to stop selling 1x2 bricks. Construction workers are frustrated, and try to make do with other sizes. Their creations aren't pretty, but existing buildings are just fine. Most people are unaware of the crisis unfolding.

Fortunately, in this world, our Benevolent Lego Overlords have given away the plans for every kind of Lego, have given away the machinery to manufacture them for free, and have encouraged us to derive new and unique bricks from their designs.

Within an hour, the construction workers who stockpiled some of this free equipment are churning out 1x2 bricks, and are giving them away to anybody who needs them. A few people even design their own 1x2 bricks.

Concerned that they're no longer the only store in town, the Lego store quickly fire up their own machinery, and start producing 1x2 bricks themselves before the end of the day. The supplier is pissed at the Lego Tyrants for silencing his protest. A few construction workers also express concern about the Lego Cartel's inexplicable monopoly, but these concerns are largely ignored, and things largely go back to they way that they were.

The Lego Store starts keeping inventory on hand to prevent a similar crisis from forming in the future.
This isn't even the most disruptive thing to happen to NPM -- the primary registry has had a few prolonged outages (although this has greatly improved in the past year or two). Again, this isn't a huge issue, because anybody can run their own registry -- there's a particularly popular secondary registry in China.

I have broad concerns about NPM's maturity as a package manager, but again... people got by, and it's clearly "good enough" for most developers.

Github's an even bigger point of failure in the software development world, and has absolutely appalling uptime rates. Most of us would lose our jobs if our systems had Github's reliability stats. The insane irony of this is that Git itself was explicitly designed to be decentralized, and is really good at it, but I digress...
posted by schmod at 9:45 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Reading the comments here, I realize I completely forgot about the 'first' part of this episode. The YYN segment was so massively superior - in almost every way. It was truly a huge home run.

I really wished more people could hear it, know where it comes from.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't really have much to add about the YYN segment other than to say it was absolutely remarkable - I came across it when (mefi's own) Avery Edison tweeted about it, and then I tweeted about it in turn to try to get more ears on it. What a phenomenal piece.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:02 PM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I listened to the first part, thought "wow, what a wankfest, I sure am tired of getting lectured about open source", and shut it off.

I knew they'd be doing a story on left pad at some point so I was excited to hear it, but it seemed like it wasn't a very deep cut into the story. It was basically guy got into a tiff with a corporation, pulled his code and stuff broke. I really would have liked to hear more about stuff that broke and the "real world" consequences.


The weird thing about a podcast that tries to cover two completely different topics is that you've got an audience that may be familiar with one of them and not have the foggiest idea about the other.

Me, I've never heard of left pad and have only the slightest familiarity with open-source culture, so part 1 was much more interesting... whereas when I heard part 2, my response was along the lines of the two comments I quoted above: That was a seriously basic intro to drag/ball culture and how can people not be familiar with Paris Is Burning? (Plus, they are talking to and playing tape of primary sources and still mispronouncing yas, good god.)

I realize this is the benefit of coming from a queer cultural perspective and I'm really glad they recognized the original oversight, but man that segment felt short.
posted by psoas at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


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