Yesterday I fired off a tweet that has gotten some push back. Phil Schrodt had posted this on his blog “Going Feral! Or “So long, and thanks for all the fish…” I generally love what Phil writes, and so I saved it to my Readability account (to read later), and then decided to tweet a link to it, in the hopes of driving up readership for Phil. That’s correct, I wanted to encourage people to check out something I had not yet read.
So, what to tweet? This is where I screwed up. Here’s my tweet:
On the Facebook post (my tweets go to my FB wall), Mike Ward wrote:
Erin Simpson tweeted:
Patrick Brandt seconded Erin:
Well, fuck. If these three are taking the time to say so on FB and twitter, then lots of other folks must have been screwing up their visage in disapproval without bothering to tell me so. I clearly screwed that up.
That said, I am going to push back at my friends a bit, because, while it is pretty clear that several folks I respect disapprove of my use of the term, I am not really too sure why writing that Phil is off to become a beltway bandit. This is from the wikipedia entry:
Beltway bandit is a term for private companies located in or near Washington, D.C. whose major business is to provide consulting services to the US government.
I’ve incorporated an LLC, secured an assortment of web domains covering this, have my own health insurance  and my own business phone. For all its foibles—no place is perfect—we’re staying in State College for the time being, though if you know of some pleasant town close enough to DC to drive but far enough get out of the Beltway traffic and prices, I’m interested in suggestions.
That is consistent with my conversations with Phil that he is going to work as a consultant, doing much the same thing he has been doing with the Penn State Events Data project (originally the Kansas Event Data System, KEDS) and GDELT. So I figure that the term “beltway bandit” has more negative connotations than I appreciate, despite this from wikipedia.
The phrase was originally a mild insult, implying that the companies preyed like bandits on the largesse of the federal government, but it has lost much of its pejorative nature and is now often used as a neutral, descriptive term.
So if Mike, Erin, Patrick, or anyone else would school me (privately or in the comments), I will appreciate it. Because I am having trouble squaring the circle. Going with an analogy, I really don’t want to continue to be the privileged white guy who can’t see his sexism, curbing his behavior to avoid public reprobation rather than because he gets it and changes.
To close, hopefully my tweet just looks cavalier, sloppy or even stupid, and does not reflect poorly in any way on Phil. And if Phil wondered, yup, friends have your back.