what is côdé
— cale g weissman (@caleweissman) June 10, 2015
On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek released the digital version of a special double issue comprising one 38,000 word article by Paul Ford titled “What Is Code?” and questions surfaced about whether Rachel Dolezal, the leader of the Spokane, Washington NAACP chapter, had lied about being black for years. The sheer length of “What is Code?,” comparable to a whole book for children aged 8-12 (without many pictures!), proved daunting to some readers, and it was widely summarized and aggregated. As active as she was on social media, it didn’t take long for details of Dolezal’s life and deception to emerge. She claimed to have been born in a teepee in Montana, and said that her family “hunted their food with bows and arrows.” Slate’s Will Oremus offered a pretty standard #Slatepitch, claiming that you’d understand code better by simply coding, rather than reading Ford’s whole opus. This is wrong on two different levels, since the article is more about the world programmers created (ours) and inhabit (theirs) than it is about how to actually code, but also if you’ve never touched an IDE before and want to, “What is Code?” should still provide an excellent idea of how you might begin.
— Erik Hinton (@erikhinton) June 10, 2015
The internet initially found the Rachel Dolezal story hilarious, but you could feel the Takes massing on the horizon. Jon Ronson almost immediately found a way to tie Dolezal to his apparently endless book marketing (more on this from Intern Romy below), and we learned way too much about Dolezal’s vajayjay. Paul Ford made the rounds promoting the Businessweek issue, making Friday “Behind the ‘What is Code?’ Day” on Gawker, Motherboard, and On the Media, and the behind-the-scenes interviews rolled on through the weekend.
The NAACP stated that it wasn’t really going to say anything about Dolezal, but the story achieved tersely worded reply-all status on Sunday as Dolezal attempted to cancel today’s chapter meeting. Unlike most (possibly all?) magazine issues, “What is Code?” also exists in the form of a Github repository (if you’re not sure what that is, you should read the article). As of this writing, 24 pull requests have been accepted fixing various important problems in the text, html, and accompanying technical demos. Buzzfeed’s Adam Serwer wrote that “What makes [Dolezal’s] such a quintessentially American story is that it reaffirms both the fiction of race and racism’s unending power over social interaction in American life,” and in Slate, Jamelle Bouie wrote about some of the history of black-to-white “passing”, concluding thoughtfully:
If it’s troubling, it’s at least partly because it feels like Dolezal is adopting the culture without carrying the burdens. And with the fake father and the fake children, it seems like she’s deceiving people for the sake of an à la carte blackness, in which you take the best parts, and leave the pain aside.
what is code
baby don’t hurt me
don’t hurt me
— kelliott (@kelliotttt) June 11, 2015
Remember Ed Champion? He really was that awful. Google sheep view. Nick Denton sparks a J, talks wrestling. Lol rich people: East coast. Lol rich people: West coast. Former Tabs intern Vicky Mochama makes good! And finally, Smash Mouth debuted an amazing new version of “All Star” in Colorado this weekend.
So Romy, I hear you have some more Jon Ronson tabs for us? Why don’t you take over while I go see who’s at the door.
I know we have fun here on Tabs, but do you know what isn’t fun? Making fun of Jon Ronson. This kind of witch hunt, crusade, crucifixion, tearing-apart, literally rending limb from limb, and permanently injuring in a visceral, physical way by the actual fists and teeth of internet commenters that we’ve just seen is exactly the kind of thing handsome author Jon Ronson explores in his new book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” by Jon Ronson available now wherever books are sold. This is Rusty saying this, and not Jon Ronson, who would never break into Tabs headquarters in order to promote his new book (titled: “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” icymi). Nope.
Well, got to go now, I think I hear sirens!
Today’s Book: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson
Today’s Author & Humanitarian: Jon Ronson
~Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me, Jon Ronson is the best author in the world~