Reply All: #96 The Secret Life of Alex Goldman
May 4, 2017 6:46 AM - Subscribe

Alex agreed to let PJ hack his phone, giving him 24/7 uninterrupted surveillance over his life. This week, everything you can learn about someone who completely surrenders their privacy.
posted by noneuclidean (8 comments total)
So the thing that bothered me the most about this episode was the opening ad for their new branded podcast. This new podcast apparently profiles visionaries in their fields and the first episode is about the only female chef in America running a Japanese kaiseki restaurant. They have to be talking about Niki Nakayama, but for some reason they never mention her name in the ad.
posted by noneuclidean at 6:53 AM on May 4, 2017

This episode felt a little under-formed, but less than last week. The second segment gave it some perspective. The bit about domestic abuse was really troubling. I did *love* the bit about Alex laughing maniacally in the car!
posted by radioamy at 7:50 AM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I thought the first half of the episode was good - but the episode overall came in a little short (looking through, it seems like this episode was ten minutes shorter than usual). I don't know if the second part should have been fleshed out to become more of its own segment rather than an addendum or if it should have been paired with something else, but I did sort of look up and think 'wait, that's it?' when we got to the teaser for the other podcast.

here's hoping breakmaster cylinder-bot can find their way home
posted by dinty_moore at 8:48 AM on May 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sometimes, I find Alex and PJ's surprise about things to be really annoying and expose a real male-centric perspective (like their surprise that Fake Abortion Clinics are a thing in their episode on scams). I initially felt the same way over their surprise about spying software being used in domestic violence, but then I started thinking about how few tech/internet focused podcasts have probably said the words "domestic violence" (no stats on this, just a hunch) and I'm glad they are at least raising the issue and maybe getting people to think about things in a different way.
posted by CMcG at 3:46 PM on May 4, 2017 [8 favorites]

I read (or heard, I guess) part of that as the sheer number of people who think that tracking every little thing your significant other does should be considered normal and worth dropping a couple hundred bucks on, which can be surprising even for people who are very aware that overly paranoid and controlling actions in the name of 'love' are oftentimes the first sign of abuse.

It seems like a really simple thing, but even just saying 'ew, no, this is creepy and weird and not part of a loving relationship'

It was also funny how much time was spent on exactly how hard it was to use a Galaxy S3. It still doesn't sound that old to me, because I have shitty luck on phones and therefore now only spend money on older ones, but there was a little bit of 'all the money and power in the world and he spends all of his time on this shitty thing?'
posted by dinty_moore at 6:45 AM on May 5, 2017

CMcG, I'm a woman, and maybe I am naive, but I hadn't considered the domestic violence aspect at all either.
posted by radioamy at 9:33 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also thought it was kind of naive of them to use shady software, made for shady purposes by shady people, and then be shocked that the information gathered through it wasn't very secure.
posted by primethyme at 12:22 PM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I really like strange radio experiments, and I'm glad they did this. But, I'm also tempted to argue the statement, "if someone has root on your phone, they have access to everything your phone knows and can record" actually captures the entire content of the experiment. I guess dramatizing things is useful, but Goldman's life didn't really capture any of the genuinely scary things about such capability. He could have at least attended a protest, or visited a gay bar, or at the very least done some online banking while he was being recorded, just to make a larger point.

As someone who hasn't interacted with domestic violence victims (as far as I know) since I was a kid, that whole aspect was a genuine surprise to me. It makes sense in retrospect, but on the list of scary things this could be used for it wouldn't have occurred to me until hearing this episode. I'm glad to be less unaware now.

Also, if less seriously, if someone is handing you a specific phone that you know is hacked, it must be really hard to resist the urge to generate something interesting for them to observe. Perhaps it's a fundamental difference between people who consider themselves journalists and me, but I'd have been sorely tempted to take weird zig-zag excursions to visit abandoned factories, hire actors to proposition with incredibly strange sexual kink scenes, and send strange coded messages to obscure foreign email addresses. I'm not sure that listening to Goldman visit dead-drops in the middle of the night and argue about arms shipments would have made for better radio, but it would have been a lot more fun for those observing him.
posted by eotvos at 9:58 AM on May 8, 2017

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