Season 1 - Episode 5: Cults of Personality


Small projects, bug reporting, media relations, cults of personality, cookies, advertising and alternatives, spying. Consult your therapist before listening.

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May contain mature references


  • The pleasure of dealing with small projects and why we need people forking, fragmenting and generally doing whatever they feel like. Small projects (VisiData, qutebrowser) make users feel like they are really part of something. Bigger projects (LibreOffice) do have the advantage of wider and more diverse user base.

  • Bug reporting needs to be easy. Automated reporting - good idea or a privacy hell?

  • Should communication with users and media be a number one priority for larger open source project? Is Linux Mint’s no press approach vs Monero’s incessant broadcasting. Balance rules. Engineers need marketing (up to a point). Canonical does marketing through community, just like the non-commercial KDE and Gnome.

  • Cult of personality in tech. Prompted by an article in the NY Post. Even Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison are people, can we/should we separate the personality from the work? Non-tech people like James Cameron can act like jerks too. Do certain roles require certain personalities? (This episode was recorded before the recent events around Linus Torvalds and the kernel Code of Conduct)

  • Trying to keep your privacy while browsing anywhere near Verizon’s Oath properties like Yahoo and TechCrunch means that you’ll need to go through the Oath cookie maze of death. Their “privacy dashboard” can be found here. Should there be a single-button cookie offswitch?

  • If advertising stopped, would it kill the internet? Is the attitude towards advertising changing? There are alternatives: a paywall like the Irish Times or voluntary contributions like Wikipedia and The Guardian. The benefits of both.

  • Government-enforced encryption backdoors - Five Eyes are moving to force tech companies to “voluntarily” add backdoors to their products. Argh! Not much crime fighting for the price of everyone’s privacy and security.

  • Linux Boner: RKWard

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