Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Didn’t

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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:59 am

Case 1:16-cv-10853-JCB Document 1 Filed 05/10/16


SHIVA AYYADURAI, an individual,
GAWKER MEDIA, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; SAM BIDDLE, an individual, JOHN COOK, an individual, NICHOLAS GUIDO ANTHONY DENTON, an individual, and DOES 1-20,



Plaintiff Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, by and through his undersigned attorneys, sues Defendants Gawker Media, LLC, Sam Biddle, John Cook, Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton, and DOES 1-20 (collectively, “Defendants”), and respectfully makes the following allegations.


1. Dr. Ayyadurai is a world-renowned scientist, inventor, lecturer, philanthropist and entrepreneur. In 1978, Dr. Ayyadurai invented email: the electronic mail system as we know it today. On November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled “The Man Who Invented Email,” which outlines the backstory of email and Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported: “Email … the electronic version of the interoffice, interorganizational mail system, the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] …. The facts are indisputable.” In July 2015, CBS reported on The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca: “Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai…. he is credited with inventing email …. in the late 1970s.”

2. Dr. Ayyadurai holds four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, an M.S. in Visual Studies, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering. Dr. Ayyadurai has been recognized internationally for his developments in early social media portals, email management technologies, and contributions to medicine and biology. He has been a speaker at numerous international forums, where he has discussed email, science and technology, among other topics. Dr. Ayyadurai also operates his own research and education center: the International Center for Integrative Systems in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

3. In 2012, Defendants published two false and highly defamatory articles about Dr. Ayyadurai on their website at to discredit Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. The articles falsely trace the origin of email and call Dr. Ayyadurai a liar, a “fraud” and responsible for “a misinformation campaign.” In 2014, Defendants again published a defamatory article about Dr. Ayyadurai, this time on their website, calling Dr. Ayyadurai a “fraud,” a “renowned liar,” and a “big fake,” among other things. These statements are all demonstrably false.

4. Defendants’ false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and career. As a result of Defendants’ defamation, Dr. Ayyadurai has been publicly humiliated, lost business contracts and received a slew of criticism relating to Defendants’ false accusations and statements. Defendants’ wrongful acts, which have been repeated, have left Dr. Ayyadurai with no alternative but to file this lawsuit. Dr. Ayyadurai seeks an award of no less than $35 million in damages.


5. Plaintiff is a resident and domiciliary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, County of Middlesex.

6. Upon information and belief, Gawker Media, LLC (“Gawker”) is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business located in New York City, New York.

7. Upon information and belief, defendant Sam Biddle (“Biddle”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At all relevant times, Biddle was a senior staff writer at Gawker.

8. Upon information and belief, defendant John Cook (“Cook”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At relevant times, Cook was an editor and writer at Gawker.

9. Upon information and belief, defendant Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton aka “Nick Denton” (“Denton”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At all relevant times, Denton was Founder and CEO of Gawker.

10. Upon information and belief, Defendants, and each of them, were and are the agents, licensees, employees, partners, joint-venturers, co-conspirators, owners, principals, and employers of the remaining Defendants and each of them are, and at all times mentioned herein were, acting within the course and scope of that agency, license, partnership, employment, conspiracy, ownership, or joint venture. Upon further information and belief, the acts and conduct herein alleged of each of the Defendants were known to, authorized by, and/or ratified by the other Defendants, and each of them.


11. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because they have minimum contacts with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

12. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because there is complete diversity of the parties to this action and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

13. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), in that a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred here.



14. In or about 1978, Dr. Ayyadurai created email: a computer program that created an electronic version of a paper-based interoffice mail system, which allowed mail to be sent electronically. Like the email we use today, Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention offered many features for users, such as, to send electronic mail messages to an “inbox,” save sent messages in an “outbox,” add “attachments,” and allow users to create an “address book” that included email addresses of multiple individuals.[

15. Dr. Ayyadurai invented email while working as a Research Fellow at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His role there was to design an electronic system to mirror the features of the interoffice (or inter-organizational) paper mail system, which consisted of the Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Carbon Copies, Blind Carbon Copies) (i.e., “To:,” “From:,” “Date:,” “Subject:,” “Body:,” “Cc:,” “Bcc:”), Return Receipt, Address Book, Groups, Forward, Compose, Edit, Reply, Delete, Archive, Sort, Bulk Distribution, etc. These features are now the familiar parts of every modern email system.

16. The invention of email was made by Dr. Ayyadurai as an attempt to manage the complexity of interoffice communications, and also to reduce the use of paper documents. Dr. Ayyadurai designed email so it was accessible to ordinary people with little or no computer experience, at a time when mainly highly-trained technical people could use a computer.

17. Dr. Ayyadurai wrote nearly 50,000 lines of computer code to implement the features of the interoffice mail system into his computer program.

18. Dr. Ayyadurai named his computer program “email”. He was the first person to create this term, because he was inventing the “electronic” (or “e”) version of the interoffice paper-based “mail” system. His naming of “email” also arose out of the limited parameters of the programming language and operating system, which limited program names to all capital letters and a five-character limit. Thus, his selection of the letters “E” “M” “A” “I” and “L.”

19. At the time of Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention of email, software inventions could not be protected through software patents. It was not until 1994 that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that computer programs were patentable as the equivalent of a “digital machine.” However, the Computer Software Act of 1980 allowed software inventions to be protected to a certain extent, by copyright. Therefore, in or about 1981, Dr. Ayyadurai registered his invention with the U.S. Copyright Office. On August 30, 1982, Dr. Ayyadurai was legally recognized by the United States government as the inventor of email through the issuance of the first Copyright registration for “Email,” “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System.” With that U.S. Copyright of the system, the word “email” entered the English language.1

20. In summary, Dr. Ayyadurai was the first to convert the paper-based interoffice mail system (inbox, outbox, folders, attachments, etc.) to its electronic version; the first to call it “email”; and received the first U.S. Copyright for email that legally recognized Dr. Ayyadurai as the inventor of email.

21. On or about November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled “The Man Who Invented Email,” which outlines the history of email and Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. The article states that “email – as we currently know it – was born” when Dr. Ayyadurai created it replicating an interoffice mail system at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. The article states that “the original system was set up for doctors to communicate electronically using the [physical] template they were already used to” and the interface “hasn’t changed all that much” in becoming the email system we know and use today. The TIME article also states that in “1981, Shiva took honors at the Westinghouse Science Awards for his ‘High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System’” and that in 1982 he “won a White House competition for developing a system to automatically analyze and sort email messages.”

22. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported that: “Email … the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] …. The facts are indisputable.”

23. In July 2015, CBS reported on The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca: “Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai.... he is credited with inventing email…. in the late 1970s.”


24. On or about February 22, 2012, Defendants published on their website,, an article authored by Mario Aguilar with the headline: “The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?” (the “February 2012 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A. The February 2012 Article falsely states: “Ayyadurai is a fraud.”

25. On or about March 5, 2012, Defendants published on a lengthy story authored by Sam Biddle with the headline: “Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended to Invent Email” (the “March 2012 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit B. The March 2012 Article contains multiple false statements of fact about Dr. Ayyadurai which Defendants knew to be false at the time the March 2012 Article was written and published.

26. The false statements of fact in the March 2012 Article include, among others:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.”

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” with respect to his claims of invention of email.

27. On or about September 8, 2014, Defendants published on (another website owned and operated by Gawker) a story authored by Sam Biddle with the headline: “If Fran Drescher Read Gizmodo She Would Not Have Married This Fraud” (the “2014 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit C. The story, from the outset in the title, falsely states that Dr. Ayyadurai is a “fraud,” and also states that he is a “renowned liar who pretends he invented email” and a “fake.”

28. The forgoing false statements of fact were made by Defendants with the knowledge that they were false and likely to harm Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and business. The false and libelous statements in the February 2012 Article and the March 2012 Article (together, the “2012 Articles”), along with those in the 2014 Article, had the foreseeable effect of severely harming Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and business.

29. In or about 2009, Dr. Ayyadurai entered into a contract with MIT as a lecturer. His position automatically renewed annually. In or about 2012, Dr. Ayyadurai’s lectureship was rescinded for the 2012-2013 school year. This was the first time his contract did not renew after he had lectured at MIT for three years.

30. In or about 2012, Dr. Ayyadurai was asked by MIT professors not to speak about email at an MIT Communications Forum in March 2012, which Dr. Ayyadurai had organized.

31. In or around the time, Dr. Ayyadurai was running one of the most popular elective courses at MIT called Systems Visualization; was in the midst of garnering contracts for his research center; and was the Director of a new initiative at MIT. After Defendants posted the 2012 Articles, MIT disavowed its relationship with the MIT EMAIL LAB; cancelled Dr. Ayyadurai’s class and revoked its support for his new initiative; and funders disappeared and reneged on their contracts, citing the negative press and its impact on their brand through their affiliation with Dr. Ayyadurai.

32. On or about February 16, 2012, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. had acquired documentation, including computer code and copyright information from Dr. Ayyadurai to profile his work in inventing email. The display was set to launch later in 2012, but was cancelled without explanation after Defendants’ publication of the 2012 Articles.

33. Dr. Ayyadurai lost numerous other opportunities in and after 2014, following Defendants’ publication of the 2014 Article.

34. Defendants knew that, by publishing the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article, other media publications would publish similar stories, and repeat Defendants’ statements in the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article. Numerous publications did in fact publish similar stories, citing to Defendants’ (false) statements in the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article which called into question Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention and his overall character. These other publications included, among others: an October 17, 2013 article in Business Insider titled “Fran Drescher Is Dating The Guy Who Says He Invented Email”, and a March 5, 2012 article in The Verge titled “Exposing the self-proclaimed ‘inventor of email’”.

35. Prior to the publication of the 2012 Articles, Dr. Ayyadurai was an avid speaker at events around the world. With Defendants’ publication of the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article, Dr. Ayyadurai has been deliberately attacked as an inventor and a scientist, and has lost numerous paid speaking engagements and lectureships. The articles also have negatively and significantly affected his ability to purse new opportunities and acquire investment for his new inventions—an important source of his livelihood as an inventor and entrepreneur.


36. Plaintiff contends that actual malice is not required to be shown to prove the claims herein. However, in the event that actual malice were to be determined to be a requirement, the allegations in this Complaint, including the allegations below, demonstrate actual malice. Moreover, discovery has not yet commenced and Plaintiff expects to obtain through discovery additional evidence that would support actual malice.

37. Gawker is a company that routinely engages in wrongful conduct, and specifically, writes and publishes false and defamatory statements about people, invades people’s privacy and other rights, and publishes content that is irresponsible and that no other legitimate publication will publish.

38. Gawker has been sued multiple times for defamation, including currently in an action in New York State Court, by the Daily Mail newspaper, and in an action in California by an individual named Charles Johnson, for writing and publishing false and unsubstantiated rumors that Mr. Johnson had been involved in misconduct and criminal activity.

39. Gawker also has been sued repeatedly for invading the privacy of others. Gawker recently lost a case filed by Terry Bollea, professionally known as “Hulk Hogan,” for publishing an illegal, secretly recorded video showing the wrestler naked and having consensual sexual relations in a private bedroom. In March 2016, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages plus $15 million, $10 million and $100,000, respectively, in punitive damages against Gawker, Denton and former editor, A.J. Daulerio.

40. Gawker also was sued by, and paid a substantial settlement to, actress Rebecca Gayheart and her husband, actor Eric Dane, for publishing a stolen private video of them partially nude in a hot tub.

41. Gawker has also been sued for copyright infringement, including by Dr. Phil’s production company after Gawker planned to “steal,” and eventually aired, portions of an interview before it aired on Dr. Phil’s television show.

42. Gawker also published a video of a clearly intoxicated young woman engaged in sexual activity on the men’s bathroom floor of an Indiana sports bar (the footage was taken by another patron with his mobile phone). According to published reports, Gawker callously refused to remove the footage from its site for some time, despite repeated pleas from the woman and despite the fact that it was not clear if the sex was consensual or if the video was footage of a rape in progress.

43. Gawker paid a source for a photograph of what the source claimed was NFL quarterback Brett Favre’s penis. Gawker published the uncensored photo and reported that it showed Mr. Favre’s penis.

44. Gawker published photos of Duchess Kate Middleton’s bare breasts, captured by a paparazzi’s telephoto lens while she was sunbathing in a secluded, private location.

45. Gawker published complete, uncensored, and unedited videos of seven innocent individuals being beheaded by ISIS soldiers. The videos were distributed by ISIS for the purpose of terrorizing the Western world. On information and belief, Gawker was the only established media company to publish these videos in full and uncensored, showing the victims being beheaded. Gawker was criticized severely by the press and terrorism experts for furthering the terror campaign of ISIS, and showing a total lack of regard for the families of these victims.

46. Gawker hacked a promotional campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola, in which the company utilized the hashtag “#MakeItHappy.” The campaign was originally designed to allow people to type statements into a decoder, and the decoder converted the statements into positive, happy statements. Gawker’s hack caused the campaign to publish highly offensive statements from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Gawker was resoundingly criticized throughout the media for its actions.

47. Gawker attempted to publicly “out” a private male individual, who is a media executive at a rival publishing company, by publishing a story alleging that the executive had attempted to solicit a male porn star and prostitute. Gawker’s actions in publishing these allegations, including identifying the executive by name and the company he worked for, publishing the accusations of the gay porn star, and protecting the identity of the porn star “source,” were severely criticized throughout the media industry. As a result, multiple major advertisers began to pull their advertising from Gawker; Gawker then removed the story; and a few days later two senior executives at Gawker promptly resigned their positions. Following these events, several more executives and employees resigned or were terminated.

48. In the past year, seven of the nine most senior executives at Gawker and resigned: Chief Operating Officer Scott Kidder, Chief Strategy Officer Erin Pettigrew, Chief Technology Officer Tom Plunkett, Editorial Chief Tommy Craggs, President of Advertising Andrew Gorenstein, SVP of Global Sales and Partnerships Michael Kuntz and Editor-in-Chief of Max Reid. Of the original Executive Board from one year ago, only CEO/Founder Denton and General Counsel Heather Dietrick remain at the company. (Gawker had no CFO during this time.)

49. In November 2015, former Gawker staff writer, Dayna Evans, published an article titled: “On Gawker’s Problem With Women” (“the Evans Article”) in which Evans exposes gender inequalities within the company as well as an endemic of reporting failures and failures of journalistic ethics. The Evans Article states that the company’s reporting tactics “can lead to dismissiveness and insensitivity, harm and marginalization, often unforgettable and unforgivable damage.” The Evans Article further states that writers and editors at the company “are in fact REWARDED and admired for their recklessness and immaturity, a recklessness and immaturity, that, as you know, has gotten the company in heaps of trouble over the past couple of years.” The Evans Article goes on to state that the above assertions are true, “especially so at a place like Gawker, where bylines are associated with traffic and traffic is associated with success.”


50. In or about 2010, Gawker and Denton hired Biddle as a writer for Gawker’s technology focused website, Biddle was subsequently promoted to editor at

51. Biddle’s professed goal is to destroy people’s reputations and lives on the Internet, under the banner of journalism. In 2010, Biddle wrote: “Is it petty to not share in the happiness of someone else’s success? Is it petty to wish—to beg, even, knuckles blistering, eyes bloodshot, beseeching each god—for their horrific downfall.” Biddle reinforced this philosophy in April 2014 when he stated that he would “like to have a 20-to-1 ratio of ruining people’s days versus making them” and that he writes the types of articles he does because “I like attention.”

52. In 2013, Biddle published at Gawker a tweet sent out by a private media executive which contained a joke made in bad taste. Biddle’s sharing of the tweet caused the executive to lose her job and be subject to widespread scorn and ridicule. Biddle admitted that his publication of the tweet caused “an incredibly disproportionate personal disaster” for the executive.

53. Also in 2013, Biddle wrote a post at Gawker that took the comments of a venture capitalist out of context and made implicit accusations of racism.

54. In March 2014, Biddle sanctioned an article by a junior writer which compared a dating website to WWII Comfort Women. The article received severe criticism throughout the national media.

55. In October 2014, during National Bullying Prevention Month, Biddle sent out distasteful tweets through his Twitter account that supported bullying, stating: “Nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission” and that society should “Bring Back Bullying.” The tweets and fallout that ensued caused several companies to withdraw advertising from Gawker. Gawker executives admitted that Biddle’s tweets, and the lost advertisers that followed, cost Gawker at least $1 million in advertising revenue.

56. In late 2015, Biddle wrote an article about his use and abuse of narcotics, including his substantial consumption of benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Biddle’s drug abuse was well-known at Gawker, including by Denton and Cook, and they nevertheless continued to employ Biddle, promote him, reward him, and assign him to write articles about people.


57. Defendants have shown little interest in reporting the truth to the public, or investigating the facts underlying a story, or for that matter telling the truth to its readers. Defendants routinely make up lies about the subjects of their stories—Dr. Ayyadurai being one of many—with little or no regard to the substantial consequences that their false statements have on the subjects of their stories. The impact is serious and real. Defendants destroy personal and professional reputations and careers as a matter of routine.

58. In or about June 2009, Denton was interviewed by The Washington Post, and told the reporter: “We don't seek to do good. We may inadvertently do good. We may inadvertently commit journalism. [Spoken as if it were a crime.] That is not the institutional intention.” (emphasis added).

59. Gawker’s philosophy and practice is to publish false scandal, for the purpose of profit, knowing that false scandal drives readership, which in turn drives revenue, and without regard to the innocent subjects of their stories whose careers are destroyed in the process.

60. This is the situation here: Defendants’ false statements in the articles at issue had the effect of so severely discrediting Dr. Ayyadurai—based on the false statement that he is a “fraud”—that Dr. Ayyadurai’s career was severely damaged. As a direct result of Defendants’ publication of the false and defamatory statements about Dr. Ayyadurai, on information and belief, Dr. Ayyadurai has lost teaching positions at MIT, lost several paid speaking engagements at the time and in the future, lost an accolade and display dedicated to his invention at the Smithsonian Institute, lost contracts and renewals, lost opportunities for investment in his emerging companies, suffered substantial personal and professional reputational harm, and suffered substantial harm to his career, business and income.

61. According to and, more than 195,100 people have read the 2014 Article that Defendants wrote and published; more than 87,900 people have read the February 2012 Article that Defendants wrote and published; more than 215,100 people have read the March 2012 Article that Defendants wrote and published; and presumably all of those readers have spoken to others about the stories. Moreover, the 2014 Article embeds the March 2012 Article directly in the center of the 2014 Article, summarizes it, and includes a hyperlink to the March 2012 Article, with a prominent display of the title of the March 2012 article along with a photo of Dr. Ayyadurai, and urges readers to read it. The March 2012 Article embeds the February 2012 Article directly in its center and includes a hyperlink to the February 2012 Article. Further, when the 2012 Articles were embedded into the 2014 Article, they were directed to a different audience and readership: readers of, versus readers of Therefore, in September 2014, Defendants republished the 2012 Articles, originally published on, by directing them to a new audience of readers and multiplying the damage done to Dr. Ayyadurai.

62. As a result of Defendants’ wrongful actions, anyone who searches Dr. Ayyadurai at Google or other search engine will see Defendants’ false and libelous stories about him in the first page of search results across the world. As a result, anyone who would otherwise have hired or partnered with Dr. Ayyadurai likely will decline, and have declined, to do so, believing Defendants’ false and libelous statements about him to be true. These statements also resulted in a wave of efforts by others to discredit Dr. Ayyadurai and erase him from the history of electronic communications such as Walter Isaacson’s book on Internet pioneers, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution; attacks on Wikipedia that remove reference to his contributions, and discrediting his other ongoing scientific contributions unrelated to email technology. Defendants’ actions foreseeably caused such results.

63. Defendants are guilty of intentional misconduct. Defendants had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct described herein and the high probability that injury or damage to Plaintiff would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in substantial injury and damage to Dr. Ayyadurai.

64. Defendants’ conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to Dr. Ayyadurai’s rights.

65. Defendants’ actions described herein also have had the foreseeable effect of causing severe emotional distress to Dr. Ayyadurai, and did cause him to suffer severe emotional distress.

66. In 2014, Defendants continued their wrongful actions of 2012 when they published the defamatory 2014 Article about Dr. Ayyadurai, and linked readers to the March 2012 Article, which again linked to the February 2012 Article.

67. Dr. Ayyadurai requests herein all available legal and equitable remedies, to the maximum extent permissible by law, including without limitation compensatory damages in an amount not less than Thirty-Five Million Dollars ($35,000,000), and punitive damages.

(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

68. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 67 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

69. As described herein, the February 2012 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, in that it falsely states that “[Dr.] Ayyadurai is a fraud.”

70. As described herein, the March 2012 Article falsely alleges that:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.”

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” in his claim of invention of email.

71. As described herein, the 2014 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, by stating that Dr. Ayyadurai is a “fraud,” thus falsely accusing Dr. Ayyadurai of a crime and causing prejudice to his personal and professional reputation and business.

72. The 2014 Article also falsely states:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “renowned liar” with respect to his statements that he invented email,

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “big fake,” and

c) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “cyber-lies.”

73. These false statements wrongly accuse Dr. Ayyadurai of having made statements and acted in a manner that would subject him to hatred, distrust, contempt, aversion, ridicule and disgrace in the minds of a substantial number in the community, and were calculated to harm his social and business relationships, and did harm his social and business relationships.

74. The statements made intentionally, purposefully and with actual malice by Defendants were false and no applicable privilege or authorization protecting the statements can attach to them.

75. Plaintiff has been seriously damaged as a direct and proximate cause of the falsity of the statements made by Defendants in an amount to be determined at trial. The false statements attribute conduct, characteristics and conditions incompatible with the proper exercise of Plaintiff’s business and duties as an inventor, scientist and entrepreneur. Because the statements were widely disseminated on the Internet, they were also likely and intended to hold the Plaintiff up to ridicule and to damage his social and business relationships.

76. The above-quoted published statements constitute egregious conduct constituting moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages relating to Defendants’ making of the above-quoted defamatory statements, in an amount to be determined at trial.

Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

77. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 76 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

78. Defendants knew that Plaintiff, being an MIT professor/lecturer, scientist, inventor, business owner and entrepreneur, had business relationships that were ongoing during the time of Defendants’ publications, and had a reasonable expectation of entering into valid business relationships with additional individuals and entities, including with companies and universities, which would have been completed had it not been for Defendants’ wrongful acts.

79. Defendants acted solely out of malice and/or used dishonest, unfair or improper means to interfere with Plaintiff’s actual and prospective business relationships, before they defamed him.

80. Defendants, through the misconduct alleged herein, intended to harm Plaintiff by intentionally and unjustifiably interfering with his actual and prospective business relationships.

81. Defendants have seriously damaged Plaintiff’s actual and prospective business relationships as a direct and proximate cause of these acts.

82. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

83. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 82 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

84. Defendants intentionally wrote the 2012 Articles and posted them to the website, and again intentionally wrote and published the 2014 Article to the website to humiliate, defame and embarrass Dr. Ayyadurai.

85. Defendants’ posting of the articles was extreme and outrageous in that the contents falsely accuse him of being a fraud and lying about his professional accomplishments and career.

86. Dr. Ayyadurai has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the content written in the articles and the ramifications the false content has had on his personal life and professional reputation have been immense.

87. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Negligent Hiring and Retention
(Against Denton and Cook)

88. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 87 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

89. At all times relevant to the allegations herein, Biddle was engaged in the abuse of multiple drugs including benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), while employed at Gawker and particularly during the time that he wrote the 2014 Article.

90. At all relevant times, Denton and Cook knew or should have known of Biddle’s open and continuing abuse of such drugs, and the impact that it was having on his mental health, and the caustic and reckless articles that Biddle was writing about people as a result.

91. At all relevant times, Denton and Cook also knew or should have known that Biddle sought to libel and destroy the lives of the subjects of his reporting. In connection with Biddle’s reporting, Gawker and its executives, including Denton and Cook, received outcry and criticism about Biddle and his articles, while Biddle was employed with them.

92. Denton and Cook failed to take reasonable care in the hiring and/or retention of Biddle.

93. Denton and Cook placed Biddle in a position to cause foreseeable harm to others (including Dr. Ayyadurai) by placing Biddle and retaining him in the position of Senior Writer.

94. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.


Plaintiff demands a trial by jury.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Shiva Ayyadurai respectfully requests:

1. An award of damages to Plaintiff in an amount to be determined at trial, but in all events not less than Thirty-Five Million Dollars ($35,000,000);

2. An award of punitive damages to Plaintiff in an amount to be determined at trial;

3. An order requiring Defendants to make a public retraction of the false statements;

4. An order granting preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent defendants from making further defamatory statements about Plaintiff; and

5. An award of such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Dated: May 10, 2016

Respectfully submitted,

By: /s/ Timothy Cornell
Timothy Cornell, BBO # 654412
One International Place, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02110
Tel: (617) 535-7763
Fax: (617) 535-7721
By: /s/ Charles J. Harder
Charles J. Harder, Esq.
(Pro Hac Vice application to be filed)
132 S. Rodeo Drive, Suite 301
Beverly Hills, California 90212
Tel. (424) 203-1600
Counsel for Plaintiff


1 “Email” as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Online Etymology Dictionary lists “email” as entering the language in 1982, when Dr. Ayyadurai’s Copyright was registered.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:54 am

Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story Of The Man Who Pretended To Invent Email
Sam Biddle
Mar. 6, 2012




Shiva Ayyadurai, is a shimmering intellectual. He holds four degrees from MIT (where he lectures), numerous patents, honors, and awards. He also says he invented email, and there's a global conspiracy against him.

Guess which one of these statements is true.

In 1978, a precocious 14-year-old from New Jersey invented email. You can see him doing it in the photo at the top right of your screen—the kid glued to his monitor. In that picture, he's busy showing off his creation—a way for office staff to message each other via computer. As he's happy to gab to the Washington Post, which recently ran a profile of him, Ayyadurai was a teen wonder who invented the electronic messaging system with which we all communicate, back in 1978.

Ayyadurai's collection of "historical documents" is now to be interred at the Smithsonian, the Post reported, laid gloriously on the pillar of American history alongside artifacts of Occidental Civilization such as Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet, Thomas Jefferson's Bible, and a 1903 Winton, "the first car driven across the United States." Ayyadurai is about to become more than just a gifted programmer and Professional Smart Man, but a historical figure. All of this leading up to a plum book deal with Norton, proclaiming his place in history as the upstart inventor of email itself.

But why have you never heard of him? Probably because there's precious little evidence that Ayyadurai came remotely close to inventing email, beyond a few misleading childhood documents and a US Copyright form of dubious weight. This was enough to convince the Washington Post and Smithsonian? Before you could even finish the Post's ode, Emi Kolawole, the reporter behind the piece, issued a stumbling correction:

A number of readers have accurately pointed out that electronic messaging predates V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai's work in 1978. However, Ayyadurai holds the copyright to the computer program called "email," establishing him as the creator of the "computer program for [an] electronic mail system" with that name, according to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Shiva Ayyadurai shows plans for the electronic mail system that he designed to math teacher Irman Greenberg and Stella Olekslak, coordinator of the Independent Study program at Livingston High School.

Livingston Student Designs Electronic Mail System

On October 7, Irman Greenberg, math teacher, and Stella Oleksiak, Independent Study coordinator, along with Shiva Ayyadurai and his father visited the Computer Center at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to observe the design and implementation of Ayyadurai's electronic mail system.

Ayyadurai, a senior at Livingston High School under the tutelage of Blair Krimmel, head of the math department and the Independent Study program, with the encouragement of Dr. Leslie Michelson, manager of the lab computer, created an electronic mail system with enough sophistication for immediate practical use at the college and commercial potential.

Since the eighth grade, Ayyadurai has proven that he could work mathematically far beyond the traditional classroom. During ninth grade he was bussed from Heritage to the high school where he passed the Alegebra I and II tests while studying geometry at the same time.

During the summer of 1978, he was accepted for the computer science program at New York University where he learned various computer languages such as Fortran, Basic, Cobol and Snobol, and was graduated with honors. As a consequence of his math background and his computer training, he began his work at CMDNJ.

During the same year, he was accepted for the Atlantic Regional Math League and competed in the Essex County League and the Iron Hills Conference. As a veteran member of ARML, he and the team placed seventh out of the 43 teams.

While studying Ptolemy's Theorem, Ayyadurai observed an entirely new geometric relationship in the field of vector geometry. This finding was published in the journal "The Mathematics Teacher," Fall 1980 issue. In April 1980, he won individual first place in the advanced math competition in the Essex County Math League.

He is continuing his Independent Study Program under Krimmel in the area of statistics.

Well, that's a rather different claim to fame entirely, isn't it? After we posted incredulously, Ayyadurai's PR rep was quick to rally us toward his cause—and the case was urgent. Not only was Ayyadurai desperate to set the record straight, but there was a tale of globalization and woe that explained the detractors. Ayyadurai wasn't being accused of lying about inventing email because [he] hadn't invented it; he was the victim of international character assassination. This goes all the way to the top.

In 2009, Ayyadurai worked for the Indian government, helping to run CSIR, a national R&D incubator tasked with finding homegrown patents and turning them into national high tech moneymakers. According to Ayyadurai, the center, with its billions of dollars to spend, was as corrupt as you'd imagine an R&D incubator in a developing country would be. Dissent was verboten, patents were plagiarized, and the few ideas of worth were rounded up [and] laid fallow. When someone tried to speak up, they were canned. Meanwhile, plush villas, fat salaries, and state-provided cars were doled out to scientists within the organization on the dime of the Indian people.

Ayyadurai couldn't sit idly by while this happened. He admonished his management in a letter he circulated within CSIR, calling for freedom of speech among colleagues. The Indian government clamped down immediately: He was banned from further communiques, promptly fired, evicted from his government housing, and urged to flee the country, lest his life and family be harmed. Phone calls of warning and threat were persistent, he says.

So Ayyadurai did flee, returning to MIT, where he's generally described by his colleagues as a nut and fraud—the terms "asshole," and "loon" were tossed around freely by professors who were happy to talk about their coworker but prefer to remain anonymous. "Don't know him, but [he] didn't invent email. If he claims to have done so he's a dick," said one MIT brain.

Ayyadurai is convinced the Indian government isn't through with him. He claims that it hired a team of "bloggers" and PR hatchet men to smear him across the internet. Target number one? His claim to be the father of email.


On the phone, Ayyadurai comes off as kind, a man of nervous tact. But it also absolutely feels like trying to sell you something that's just not sticking—a sort of mainframe Willy Loman. At publications he's duped into letting him opine unfettered, he's email's inventor, through and through. He also owns dozens of immodest domains to that point—,,—you get the point. No? Well Ayyadura has literally 100 more sites (103 in total) dedicated to making sure you do.

But press Ayyadurai, and he gets desperate, as his entire faux-fame rests upon semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.

Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email—he created "EMAIL," an electronic mail system implemented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. It's doubtful he realized it as a little teen, but laying claim to the name of a product that's the generic term for a universal technology gives you acres of weasel room. But creating a type of airplane named AIRPLANE doesn't make you Wilbur Wright.

The actual pioneers of email were breaking new ground more than a decade before Ayyadurai concocted his dental memo system. Electronic mail predates Ayyadurai's ability to spell, let alone code. Ray Tomlinson is best known for having sent the first text letter between two computers on ARPANET in '71—y'know, an email.
He also picked out the @ sign. A modest career. And despite Ayyadurai's insistence that, at the very least, he was the first to make use of the To/From/CC/BCC/etc fields we still use in Gmail today, this too is a personal fantasy. Tomlinson, who began working on early inter-computer messaging when Ayyadurai was a year old, explained to us how he became well-versed with these linchpins of modern email years before Ayyadurai drew them up on his own:

[We] had most of the headers needed to deliver the message (to:, cc:, etc.) as well as identifying the sender (from:) and when the message was sent (date:) and what the message was about. I chose the Latin word "re" meaning "about" for this. This apparently too obscure and was replaced with "subject:". However, "re:" is still use in the subject field to refer to the subject of the message to which the message is a reply. RFC 561 documents the headers as of 1973. Before that the standard was de facto. You could include any header you wanted in a message, but you had better use to:, cc:, etc. if you wanted the receiving program to understand.

These email underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the internet itself—a full year before Ayyadurai's EMAIL project.

It was rough around the edges, but it was email. The work of Tomlinson and his peers was limited, but so too was the internet—and both exploded together. But ask Ayyadurai, and he dismisses it all—these messages weren't email, but "messages" and nothing more, relegated to some inferior class of communications that he compares to everyday "text messaging and morse code." It was all just sloppy streams of letters until he made EMAIL—and only then did the system behind Gmail, BlackBerry, and every computer on the planet see light.

6.4 Misuse #4: RFCs Demonstrate “Email” Existed Prior To 1978

The statement:

“… email underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the Internet itself.” (Biddle 2012)

misuses the term “email” since Requests for Comments (RFCs) were simply written documentation, not a computer program, nor software, nor email ---- the system of interlocking parts which is the full-scale emulation of the interoffice, interorganizational paper-based mail system.

RFCs were literally meeting notes following meetings by electronic messaging researchers. RFCs, such as RFC 733, were written documentation not a computer program or code or system. Moreover, statements such as, and others like it:

“In 1977 these features and others went from best practices to a binding standard in RFC 733.” (Biddle, 2012)

are hyperboles and conflation of RFCs.

Mr. Sam Biddle, neither a computer scientist nor a software developer, who wrote the statement referenced above, in an article in Gizmodo referencing Ayyadurai as an “asshole” and “dick,” is known for his puerile, sensationalist, and yellow journalism. For example, a few weeks after writing this outrageous article on Ayyadurai, Biddle wrote an article about a virtual Internet dog name “Boo,” which had died. It was later found out that “Boo” had not died. Anderson Cooper, a CNN journalist, later exposed Mr. Biddle’s quality of journalism on his TV news show “The Ridiculist.”

What is unfortunate is that even scholarly “historians,” like Mr. Thomas Haigh, a leader of the SIGCIS group, and others either purposely wanting to deny the facts of email’s origin from 1978 at UMDNJ, or unconsciously cutting and copying the Gizmodo article, believing Biddle’s sensationalistic article to be the truth, continue to use Biddle’s article as a primary and scholarly source reference to deny email’s invention by Ayyadurai in Newark, New Jersey. Such tabloid articles are referenced as the primary source on Wikipedia and some major media to attempt to perpetuate false assertions that RFCs are email, and predate Ayyadurai’s invention.

Specifically, RFC 733, for example, is a document that was drafted in November 1977, and was simply, at best, a specification attempting to provide a standardization of messaging protocols and interfaces. RFC 733 should not be conflated as “email underpinnings” (Biddle, 2012) and equated as email --- the electronic system of interlocking parts emulating the interoffice, inter-organizational paperbased mail system created by Ayyadurai at UMDNJ in 1978.The RFC 733 is explicitly described as:

"This specification is intended strictly as a definition of what is to be passed between hosts on the ARPANET. It is NOT intended to dictate either features which systems on the Network are expected to support, or user interfaces to message creating or reading programs."

RFC 733 did not even dictate which features of the interoffice, interorganizational paper-based mail process would be included, such as the basic components of the user interfaces for message creation and reading. Moreover, RFC 733 attempted to define a standard that was never even fully accepted nor implemented. (Crocker et al., 1977).

“Some of RFC #733's features failed to gain adequate acceptance.” (Crocker et al., 1977)

The very term “RFC” means “Request for Comments” and were typically lists, notes and at best specifications (Shicker, 1981) on what could be in the future, but were neither computer code nor software application, such as email, the system and software application developed by Ayyadurai.

“Prospective users, system designers, and service offering companies often compile lists of potential services [of electronic mail systems]… Nobody claims that these lists are complete, and most often it is admitted freely that these lists represent a first cut synthesis of services offered by other communication facilities. Unfortunately, these lists mostly convey just a number of buzz-words which everybody interprets in his own fashion.” (Shicker, 1981)

In summary, RFCs only proposed an interface for message format and transmission, but said little about feature sets of individual electronic messaging or mail systems. The RFCs’ authors, by their own admission, clearly state this was not their intention. RFCs were the definition of command-line terminology, at best, but certainly not email --- the system of interlocking parts intended to emulate the interoffice, inter-organizational paper-based mail system.

-- Origin of Email & Misuses of the Term “Email”, by Deborah J. Nightingale, Sen Song, Leslie P. Michelson, Robert Field

But Ayyadurai's claim that he revolutionized how those messages are sent isn't uncontested either. Dave Crocker, another eminent figure in the history of actual email, calls Ayyadurai's posturing "theatrical," rattling off a fat list of email clients—MSG, SNDMSG, HERMES, MS—that did pretty much what EMAIL did, years and years before Ayyadurai started coding. "For a 14 year old his work was impressive," Crocker told us over the phone. "What he's saying about it now as a much older adult is also impressive—but in a very different way."

It's possible Ayyadurai was the first to come up with the term "EMAIL." That alone would be a feat. "In 1971, we called them 'messages,'" explains Tomlinson, a man so accomplished he can casually mention such things. But even that claim is tenuous, as Crocker points to a scholarly journal titled "EMMS; Electronic Mail and Message Systems." It was published a year before Ayyadurai did anything. "Newsletters for a topic don't usually start before the topic has been invented," says Crocker.

It's also possible the idea of copying decades-old paper standbys like "blind carbon copy" occurred to Ayyadurai independently of ARPA's work, and that he put it together in a friendly software package. But that's about as much as Ayyadurai has on his side, PR team and media credulity notwithstanding. The fact is that the labors of people like Tomlinson and Crocker are the monkey to your Gmail's homo sapiens, explains Tomlinson: "Email has evolved — FTP is no longer used to transport email. Additional media may be used instead of plain text. Messages are stored in a myriad of ways — Gmail stores messages in databases on huge server farms, messages on my end are stored in files on an IMAP server, etc., but the essence, even the at-sign, remains the same." That explanation? The words of an "elite group of people who think they own innovation," according to Ayyadurai.

Except they have history on their side. They need no aggrandizement, no TIME article, no need to take the Washington Post on a ride, no baseless Smithsonian tribute (the museum declined to comment on Ayyadurai's false apotheosis). They've done their work. But anyone who cares about the history of the astoundingly clever and complex things we use daily might suffer from Ayyadurai's ego campaign. Ayyadurai is free to self-promote—and he's doing a hell of a job—but when he delves into revisionism, it's a rare ego trip we shouldn't let slide.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:34 am

The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?
by Mario Aguilar



V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is a fraud who has been masquerading for years as the pioneering mind behind email. At least according to a bunch of geeks who mobilized from all corners of the digital world to try to set the record straight.

The imbroglio began late last week with a routine news report and it was settled, appropriately enough, with a detailed email.

TechDirt reports that last Friday, The Washington Post wrote about what should have been a sweet acquisition by the Smithsonian Institution:

The Smithsonian has acquired the tapes, documentation, copyrights, and over 50,000 lines of code that chronicle the invention of e-mail. The lines of code that produced the first "bcc," "cc," "to" and "from" fields were the brainchild of then-14-year-old inventor V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't believe that Ayyadurai invented email in 1978. The doubters say that all Ayyadurai did was write a computer program called "EMAIL," which he copyrighted in 1982. While I in no way want to undermine Ayyadurai's accomplishments, there's a pretty strong case that he's full of it. The fact is that networked communication actually predates Ayyadurai's computer program by quite a few years.

While holding a copyright might be good enough for some people, the Internet cognoscenti weren't going to have it. When they saw that blasphemy in print, they took to Ayyadurai's Wikipedia page, wrote letters of complaint, and debated as only geeks can.
TechDirt dug up this wonderful email written by Thomas Haig to the SIGCIS email list. Randell points out that ARPANET sent the first message between two computers back in 1971.

This version of the story makes ARPANET contractor Ray Tomlinson the inventor of email. Tomlinson doesn't quite take credit for the invention, but he does seem to think that the system he was using back in 1971 was indeed email.
According to the description on his website:

The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.

These first messages were sent in late 1971. The next release of TENEX went out in early 1972 and included the version of SNDMSG with network mail capabilities. The CPYNET protocol was soon replaced with a real file transfer protocol having specific mail handling features. Later, a number of more general mail protocols were developed.

Notice that Tomlinson never goes quite so far as to call himself an inventor here, and in the page's FAQ, he acknowledges the contributions made to the technology both before and after he sent those first messages. That makes Ayyadurai's claim all the more strange—as if the most important part of the accomplishment was coining a term. Thomas Haig, from the email before, has no patience for the semantics game when it comes to this question:

They seem to be confusing copyright protection with patent protection, and implying that he would only have copyright on a program he created if it was the first of its kind. I could write a program called "OPERATING SYSTEM" tomorrow and hold the copyright, but it wouldn't mean I invented operating systems.

Well put! The Washington Post did publish a correction, which only half-admits that Ayyadurai didn't really invent email. Perhaps the truth is that email as we know it really shouldn't be considered a single person's invention. [TechDirt, The Washington Post, and Roy Tomlinson]


Update: In an effort to clear his legal obligations, Nick Denton (previous owner of Gawker) settled with Shiva Ayyadurai and two other Peter Thiel backed litigants. He received $750,000 which will probably go towards creating even more websites to "prove" that he invented email even though the time line indicates otherwise.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:08 am

If Fran Drescher Read Gizmodo She Would Not Have Married This Fraud
By Sam Biddle




In 2012, an enterprising young Gizmodo blogger published the story of Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT lecturer and renowned liar who pretends he invented email. Today, he adds another achievement to the resume, marrying Fran Drescher. Fran, you fucked up!

You had two years to discover that this guy is basically a big fake. And now look at you: stuck with the guy, doomed to nod along to his cyber-lies for a lifetime, as you grow old together and reminisce about things you didn't invent. The lesson here is clear: read Gizmodo daily, or your personal life is headed down the shitter.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:39 am

On Gawker’s Problem With Women. A former staff writer describes how a media company founded on whistleblowing and radical transparency failed its female employees.
By Dayna Evans
November 15, 2015



The following story — on the treatment of female editors, writers, and managers at Gawker Media — was scheduled to appear on on Friday, November 13. It had been originally written in July, kiboshed in August, reported further in October, and prepped to run in early November. On the day it was expected to be published (after edits and approval from Gawker’s editor-in-chief Alex Pareene and Gawker’s legal team), executive editor John Cook emailed me and Leah Beckmann (the story’s editor) and explained that he’d be killing the piece after deciding that he was “done with Gawker writing about Gawker.”

Cook also noted that I had not reached out to him for comment in the “the four-month reporting and editing process.” But on August 4, I had emailed Cook asking him to please “call me any time” to speak about the story, though he never did. He and I talked on the phone on Saturday and again on Sunday.

Cook’s decision to kill the piece was reportedly protested heavily by Gawker staff members on Friday, many of them insisting that they’d prefer to see it published on, if anywhere. In his email to me, Cook remarked, however, that he trusted that the piece would get picked up elsewhere, and that he hoped it would. We’ve made some minor edits to the original piece since Friday, but here it is in full.

From Gawker: An Oral History:

“Nick has issues working with women in general. I think it’s sort of a semi-purposeful thing where he doesn’t understand how to talk to them and how to listen to them.” — Alex Pareene

“Oh, that one is too silly for me to respond to.” — Nick Denton

On July 16, published a tabloid story about a male escort’s thwarted dalliance with a media executive. It did not go over well with readers, many of whom found it to be an irredeemably cruel intrusion on the private affairs of a not very public man. In response to the maelstrom of anger surrounding the story, Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which included its president of advertising, voted to pull the post, with founder and CEO Nick Denton arguing later that he’d been “ashamed” to have his name attached to it. The fallout was huge and rippling, inspiring two respected editors at the company, Max Read and Tommy Craggs, to resign in protest. Before the end of the following week,’s staff was offered a chance to walk away — with severance — so that a new, “20 percent nicer Gawker” could be built in its stead under then-acting executive editor John Cook.

The proper names above all belong to men, which is fitting because this is a story about the unseen women of Gawker Media. I no longer work at Gawker, and as of two weeks ago neither does the woman who edited this story, Leah Beckmann, who for four months served as interim editor-in-chief of At the end of October, a permanent EIC for the site was named: Alex Pareene, a well-liked former Gawker writer with undeniable qualifications for the job. This was the first bit of company news in a long while to receive uniformly positive notices both within the company and without, but there was a context to his hiring that didn’t receive due attention anywhere. As Beckmann told me a few months ago, when I was still on staff, “To say that Gawker treats men and women equally is simply untrue.”

Gawker Media, an allegedly progressive, whistle-blowing aggravator in the easily-bristled media landscape — one that was the first to break stories on Josh Duggar’s attempted infidelity, to expose Greg Hardy’s buried domestic abuse, to reveal The Daily Show’s staff gender inequality, to time and time again call out all sorts of people and publications for their wicked or misleading behavior — was deserving of a harsh critique. Gawker Media itself, despite its proud claims to enlightenment, has a woman problem.

The following excerpt from an interview Nick Denton did with The New York Times in July is a good place to start when searching for how Denton envisioned a future

“I’d like Gawker to be the best version of itself, taking the best of each era of the site. The scoops of John Cook. The investigations of Adrian Chen or J. K. Trotter. Pop culture from Rich Juzwiak. And some of Max Read’s excellent vision for the site. All the ingredients are there, and the talent. And I’d like to see other properties — category leaders like Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin and Jezebel — come out from Gawker’s shadow. “Gawker is your one-stop guide to media and pop culture. It is the place you come to learn the real story — the account you won’t (or can’t) find anywhere else.” That’s from Max’s memo at the start of the year.”

There are no women in Denton’s vision of an ideal, and when no stories by women were held out for praise in an introductory memo from now-official executive editor John Cook, many felt like they were absent from his vision of an ideal Gawker Media as well. This is a notable omission, given that the company’s flagship site was launched and defined by the sharp writing of Elizabeth Spiers, further shaped by the ferocious Jessica Coen and confessional Emily Gould, enhanced by fearless Maureen O’Connor and hilarious Caity Weaver (the site’s obvious marquee voice for several years), and managed by Emma Carmichael and Leah Beckmann and Lacey Donohue, adroit editors who did the sort of unseen work that gives a publication its internal momentum. When asked to name his ideal editor-in-chief of, Denton told the Times:

“I’m not going to talk about individual candidates. But we are looking for a mixture of news judgment, intellectual framework and humanity. The ideal candidate was actually a colleague of yours, David Carr, now sadly no longer with us.”

Denton was posturing for New York Times readers, but the message unwittingly sent to the female writers and editors of Gawker was that their boss would sooner name a dead man than any living woman for the position. This notion was then further confirmed in Denton’s treatment (or rather, maltreatment) of’s former features editor, Leah Finnegan, a woman whom many in the company assumed was in line for the editor-in-chief job herself — that is, if she happened to be a man named John. The lesson women are taught at Gawker is that they can either be rabble-rousers for a short time, or reliable composed workers to guarantee some modicum of job security. Lacey Donohue, Gawker Media’s executive managing editor, told me over the phone on Saturday that she agreed that “ and Deadspin and some of the bigger sites and central management that drive the company have been very masculine. I think the culture of screaming at people or [acting] dismissively, it isn’t acceptable. It isn’t appropriate. We need to just work better. The way to do that at this company is just to get more female managers.”

Diversity in general is a blind spot for Gawker Media. On Monday, John Cook published race and gender diversity statistics for the entire company: Overall it is 79 percent white and 57 percent male. In editorial, the staff is 61 percent male and 38 percent female, though given the fact that is almost 100 percent female, excluding the women-focused site from his stats would skew editorial to being only 28 percent female. The statistics were released by Cook after BuzzFeed did the same for their company in October, in an equally unsatisfying look at who exactly runs the media.

But as Anna Holmes wrote in The New York Times Magazine at the beginning of November, the idea of “diversity” at many companies is more and more just that: a hollow idea. “Bragging about hiring a few people of color, or women, seems to come from the same interpretive bias, where a small amount is enough.” In order to foster a diverse company or industry, generous support and integration (for lack of a better word) must be a continual commitment in growing talent.

In January, a black senior editor at, Jason Parham, wrote a post on his personal blog called Gawker Media’s Responsibility to Diversity, one that later inspired Cook’s release of Gawker’s diversity statistics. He was concerned in part by the creation of a new executive editorial team — cheekily called the Politburo, and featuring five male editors and two women editors — reflected a waning interest in editorial diversity. Nick Denton responded in a comment on Parham’s post with this:

“Let’s welcome, if not out-and-out racists, then at least the wide array of people with whom a conversation is possible: national greatness conservatives, Burkean Tories and business pragmatists, for instance; Christians and other spiritual people; economic liberals, libertarians and techno-utopians; and black and other social conservatives.”

Instead of focusing on a simple request, one familiar to any self-aware media company in 2015 — a commitment to “publishing and hiring more Latina voices, queer voices, black voices, and marginalized voices across its core sites” — Denton waved his hand and advocated for more or less the opposite.

And so of course the great remaking of Gawker ended this month with Gawker looking much the same as it did before. Despite his having paid lip service to the idea of reaching beyond the usual precincts to find a new executive editor and a new editor of, despite his having made lots of noise in the press about changing the face of the company, Denton wound up installing two male Gawker Media veterans in jobs that had been held by two male Gawker Media veterans before them. The memo that went out introducing Pareene as the new Gawker EIC also thanked Leah Beckmann for “stepping into the breach and helping out.” Beckmann had taken on the full-time role of Gawker EIC at a time when the site was wavering on the brink of chaos and implosion. During her tenure, had its highest traffic day in history. This recognition of her performance in the role came off both dismissive and gendered. Only a woman would be thanked for “helping out.”

This issue apparently operates differently elsewhere in the company. Denton would eagerly point to Heather Dietrick, the company’s president and general counsel, as evidence that women are valued at Gawker. Since Dietrick’s hiring, for instance, Gawker Media has assembled a formidable all-female legal team.
When asked at the end of July about her thoughts on Gawker’s treatment of women, Dietrick sent me this statement:

“I think this is a place that really values women, as evidenced by the powerful positions held by women — me as President, our Chief Strategy Officer, one of the heads of product, four out of the eight site leads — and it’s certainly a place that lets good people reach out and excel at whatever they choose. If we need to look closer at making sure we’re also raising up good people who are too shy or quiet to reach out, we absolutely will.”

On October 30, Chief Strategy Officer Erin Pettigrew stepped down, making her the third executive, after advertising and partnerships president Andrew Gorenstein and executive editor Tommy Craggs, to leave the online publisher’s six-member management board this year. Lacey Donohue insisted — after Gawker’s recent shakeups — that, “A lot more women are being asked to join the conversations than have ever been at my tenure at Gawker Media.” In her position as executive managing editor, she explained that she saw it as “part of her job” to guarantee more leadership roles for women. “We’ve started to take recruiting a lot more seriously,” she said. “I don’t think we’re fucking around.” And in fact, at Gawker’s all-hands meeting in October, John Cook’s first since accepting the Executive Editor position, he said that the company met with “nine men, seven women, and two of those people were African-American.”

I came to write this story as a result of several arguments I’d had with my male then-bosses and colleagues about what was perceived as a pay disparity in the many thousands of dollars between male and female employees hired at the same time in equivalent positions. At a company like Gawker, where the primary missive is radical transparency, there was very little shame in asking colleagues about their salaries or promotions, especially as the entire company began openly discussing the option of unionizing.

The union effort prompted my discovery of an egregious pay discrepancy, which I brought up with male writers and editors to their either mild interest or argumentative dismissal. At one point I was advised by a male superior — a man I like and consider a friend, and who is both progressive and feminist — to not “dick-measure over salary” when I became aware of distinct difference in pay among writers with equivalent jobs. As Joanne Lipman wrote in the New York Times in August, “[Men are] absolutely certain that they don’t have a gender problem themselves; it must be some other guys who do. Yet they’re leaders of companies that pay men more than women for the same jobs.” The debate over pay, worth, and skill kept spiraling until I found a new job and left the company.

Perhaps you’ve had a chance to read through a recently published text called Gawker: An Oral History. It’s $2.99 on Kindle, if you’d like me to Venmo you the money. As a person who not all that long ago walked away from Gawker Media, and who also grew up reading Gawker, Jezebel, and Deadspin, the little Kindle Single can actually be a delight — it’s not short on insights about the history of a company that changed the way we think about what the troubled media industry in this day and age should be or even aspire to be. There’s the stuff about Julia Allison; there’s the hiring of A.J. Daulerio to work at a gambling site despite not knowing anything about gambling; there’s — inevitably — the talk of what happened to Emily Gould, according to the many men around her at the time.

Gawker had already produced female stars, but Emily, one could argue, was the biggest yet. There was the notorious Jimmy Kimmel interview, the confessional posts and public resignation, and after she left Gawker, there was the New York Times Magazine cover story about her time at the company. Days before the story — which would embarrass both Denton and the company — was published, Denton saw a video of Gould mimicking a blow job on a plastic tube and fed it to Gawker writer Andrew Krucoff to post. Even now, in 2015, while being interviewed for the Oral History, Denton remarked:

“Why not? She’s a public person. I’m a public person. This was publicly available.”

But the big issue with Denton’s constant fighting with Gould was the way that attitude toward women permeated the company well into the future. After all, when your number one priority as a media empire is to criticize and rattle anyone who enters into your view, it can be hard to remember which subjects are worth the aggression and needling. This leads to targeting your own employees and writers because maybe they’re assholes, too.

Former Jezebel features editor and current head of content and editor-in-chief of Broadly, Tracie Morrissey, speaking to Brian Abrams for the Oral History, said:

“Emily really ushered in Trojan horse feminism without people realizing it. People were really uncomfortable with a woman in charge of her own narrative and using a platform for a selfish reason. That’s what men fucking do all the time. It was just such shit when she would get shit for it.”

Gawker Media was founded on excitement and freedom, which is what drew so many people to become fans and writers there, including myself; but excitement and freedom can lead to dismissiveness and insensitivity, harm and marginalization, often unforgettable and unforgivable damage. Emily Gould had this to say about Gawker in the Oral History: “Nick has a really sort of creepy relationship with women in general. It’s a tough thing for him. It was not like an ordinary workplace. I think a lot of it would never fly today.”

On the phone in July, when I originally hoped this story would run, Jezebel founder Anna Holmes gave me her perspective on the way she feels women are treated at Gawker Media:

“My feeling — now more than ever — is that Nick [Denton] has women in two sorts of positions at the company. The few women who actually wield power are, by and large, incredibly competent and dedicated and are expected to clean up other people’s messes and act as emotional caretakers and moral compasses. The women who are not in power, well, it sometimes felt to me like the company saw them as circus acts; provocative and good for pageviews but ultimately very disposable.”

She continued:

“This isn’t to say that some men at Gawker Media haven’t been considered disposable. But what IS notable is that men in positions of power are not expected or required to be as thoughtful and responsible as their female counterparts — many are in fact REWARDED and admired for their recklessness and immaturity, a recklessness and immaturity, that, as you know, has gotten the company in heaps of trouble over the past couple of years.”

What recently transpired with features editor Leah Finnegan is good proof of Holmes’ assertion. Finnegan had butted heads with Denton (a characteristic of which he is usually fond), and when she requested to be moved to edit at Jezebel instead of leaving the company entirely, Denton (through Heather Dietrick) encouraged her to take the buyout. Dietrick told Finnegan, “Nick is too far away from you creatively and doesn’t see a way to turn it around.”

But then again, maybe this disparaging attitude to women was only limited to, a site where aggressiveness and chafing has defined its voice for 13 years. Were the other sites feeling what many women at had long felt?

“My answer is always: hire women. The more you hire women, the more women will work for you because women will see that coming there, they won’t be treated like outsiders or freaks.” I spoke to founder and current Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz on the phone in July in an attempt to figure out if gender played a role in how she ran her sites. Newitz told me she’s always made an effort to keep a good gender balance, saying that “When I first started at Gawker, there was racial diversity among the site leads and gender diversity. It’s really shitty because I don’t think it’s a bias toward white men, I feel like what it is is more laziness toward trying to find people to make it diverse.”

Many staff writers and editors at Jezebel (former and present, who mostly spoke off the record) explained to me that the case for them was very different. Like Gawker, Deadspin, and the other Gawker Media properties, Jezebel is familiar with trials and trouble, and has gotten itself into murky waters, too. But the sense that I got in doing interviews with Jezebel staff writers and editors is that outside of a few controversies, for good or ill, Jezebel is largely left to its own devices by upper management and the executive staff.

This was working in the “pink ghetto,” as one editor put it.

Erin Ryan, Jezebel’s current managing editor, explained the isolation of Jezebel to me this way:

“[Nick Denton]’s statement that we should step out of the shadows is particularly egregious; we’ve been breaking stories and turning in original reporting since the site was founded. We turn in funny, original, edgy, and brave stuff every single fucking day. Nick just doesn’t read it.”

The inverse of this feeling of freedom, however, is one of neglect, and while many writers told me that they loved not having management involved in their business or their editorial decisions, there were two cases that were brought up where a little attention was desperately needed.

In August 2014, Jezebel published “We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It.” I remember when it appeared because I thought it was exciting to work at a company where people were directly questioning authority on their own site — rather than waiting for another outlet to pick up the story — while also recognizing how fucked up it was that they’d had to resort to this. “In refusing to address the problem,” the post read, “Gawker’s leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff and readers.” When I spoke to several Jezebel staff writers about their decision to publish it, the same narratives came up over and over.

“It took me four years to build up a callus where I didn’t care anymore and I was able to not read how much people hated me. That was so awful psychologically. It’s way worse for women and it’s way worse when you’re writing about women’s issues and it’s way worse when you’re forced to look at graphic images of sexual assault,” former Jezebel features editor Tracie Morrissey told me about the rape gifs that were littering Jezebel’s comment section. “No one did anything about the rape gif issue until we wrote a public story and called them out for it.”

The idea that the well-being of the women at Gawker Media was considered only when there was a public outrage over it is not just something that happened in a vacuum, nor is it something of the distant past. Only a few months following the rape gif controversy, the Gawker office seating chart was leaked to The Awl, a boys’ club oversight made without considering the real threats that were lobbied against women writers at the company (and on a larger scale, in the media) every day. That same month, reporter Anna Merlan published a report on how the police respond to violent online threats, which thoroughly covered how authority figures largely have no clue or no interest in protecting women who work or exist on the web.

Just as the concerns of women in editorial remain invisible barring extraordinary disclosure, so do their talents. Emma Carmichael, Jezebel’s current editor-in-chief and former managing editor of both Gawker and Deadspin, explained that she found “Gawker’s gossip sites often operate off of more or less ‘invisible’ female management behind the scenes.” She told me over email that “it’s hard for those women to get recognized for their work, because it’s not on the top of the masthead or on bylines, but they’re the ones pulling the strings each day. Their work isn’t missed until they leave out of frustration or get forced out. It’s a shameful cycle.”

At Gawker, as in much of the media, women are frequently managing editors or deputy editors, the kinds of jobs that require corralling stables of neurotic writers into successfully running a daily publication. This task can be thankless no matter where a woman works, but especially so at a place like Gawker, where bylines are associated with traffic and traffic is associated with success. To the reader, this labor is invisible, and internally, there was often a sense that this work was unappreciated as star reporters (who were often male) were feted and celebrated for major scoops and big stories. As senior writer Sam Biddle told me over email about editing Valleywag with Nitasha Tiku, who is now a senior writer at BuzzFeed, “As far as I could see, she received the same amount of support and attention from inside Gawker, but in terms of readership and media peer recognition, a lot of her work was skipped over, or undervalued, or even attributed to me. I don’t know how exactly to account for that but I think the entire media world reflexively rewards and pays attention to the work of men more than women.”

It is on the backs of women that many publications flourish, and that’s why it matters that Denton could hardly muster a female writer or editor’s name if he tried. Tireless invisible labor, after all, costs nothing to abuse.

While reporting this story, I encountered two kinds of people: the ones who couldn’t wait to read it, and the ones who suggested to me that there simply wasn’t a problem and I was thinking myself into a tizzy. Hysterical is another word for it. The former were mostly all women, with the exception of a one or two male editors who accepted that this story needed to exist while also admitting their own culpability. And while mostly all women were supportive of the story as a whole, in the process of reporting, I did find that the issue was far more nuanced than I had originally anticipated.

It became clear that Jezebel staffers were intrigued but quietly removed, while staffers were incredibly worked up about the issue, especially after seeing the way Beckmann and Finnegan (and women in’s past) were treated. Female writers at Gizmodo were aware of the problem but didn’t identify with it as fiercely, though a few told me about the childish, sexual humor men would often use in their Slack and Campfire chats and of a pay discrepancy that they discovered, too. One female editor at a heavily male website told me she was thrilled to see it written but could not speak to me on the record. It goes without saying that I cannot possibly speak for every woman who has worked at Gawker, past or present, but the hope is that women hired in the future will agree that whatever problem there was has now been extinguished.

An early draft began circulating among the senior staff in August, which led to phone calls from both male and female managers asking me to temper my arguments and walk back my claims, or kill the piece entirely. The first male writer that I let read the story was enthusiastic but insistent that I find more specific examples of how misogyny made it hard for women to do their jobs. Systemic sexism is that bad, especially when it comes to the internal negotiating women do with themselves over whether their experiences are real or imagined. At workplaces where men are the bosses, it is hard to overcome unconscious social bias, and most men don’t make it their business to try. Male editors, male writers. Value is determined by the people in charge.

“It’s so hard to point out a specific instance of ‘this is when sexism at Gawker affected me’ because it’s so generally engrained in everything we do,” Ashley Feinberg, a senior writer told me. “After all, we’re supposed to be a progressive company. We’re liberal. We’re (theoretically, of course) open to diversity. Of course everyone has an equal shot.”

She continued:

“But after we write the posts about Gawker trying harder, the posts slamming Silicon Valley for its rampant issues with gender, the posts championing an equal work force. After everyone gets done patting themselves on the back for being a ‘feminist man,’ you have to go back to your seat and watch the men in charge (and it is, at almost every site and in almost all of Politburo [Gawker’s governing editorial body] save for Lacey Donohue, men who are in charge) consistently drop stories, scoops, and tips into the laps of their male mentees.”

“It’s subtle, and it’s easy to excuse any time you point it out. ‘Oh, I was already talking to them about ‘x.’ ‘Oh, it just didn’t cross my mind.’ Which is the whole crux of the problem. It never crosses any guy’s mind. And it makes sense. If it’s not something that they have to be publicly making a show of or publicly being judged on, why would it? So it’s hard to be mad at anyone specific, because these men who are nurtured within a system of wildly pervasive but wholly tacit male favoritism get the best of both worlds. They get to make a show of being progressive and they also get to reap the benefits of a system they’re supposedly fighting against.”

Even in the eleventh hour of writing this piece, I almost scrapped what I had written, as I found myself being asked to question whether the incidents and stories I had experienced and been told about represented a serious, ingrained cultural problem at the company, or in the media at large. But these are facts: A male editor once referred to a female new hire as a “walking sexual harassment case.” There was a pervasive feeling at Gawker that young male reporters are favored for scoops and investigative projects and more thoughtful edits over their female equals.’s most internally-beloved female editor was pushed to take the buyout, even though her supposedly objectionable tone was identical to that of the company’s most valued male editors and writers. No one wants to be straightforward about sexism in their industries because hey, what if it really is in our heads?

In July, right around the time that I was debating quitting Gawker because of the ways I had seen my female superiors and colleagues treated, I emailed my mom, a woman with a doctorate in business who had spent several years working with and consulting in mostly male industries. I explained I was frustrated about gender inequality at work. As Joanne Lipmann noted in her Op-Ed arguing for exposing the gender pay gap, “It’s not that men are intentionally discriminating against women — far from it. I’ve spent the past year interviewing male executives for a book about men and women in the workplace. A vast majority of them are fair-minded guys who want women to succeed.” A Pew Research Center study from 2013 saw 57% of millennial men asserting that more needs to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace. Not surprisingly, 75% of millennial women felt the same.

This was the essence of my email to my mother — how could men who appeared to respect and admire the women they worked alongside be so callous to what many of us interpreted to be deep-seated sexism or gender favoritism?

She responded in four short lines:

“I’m sorry Dayns. But this is still a man’s world. You aren’t going to change that in your lifetime. Maybe your daughter?”

When women perform invisible labor, they often keep their grievances invisible, too. She’s right. It’s not going to change in my lifetime.

During’s brutal summer — one which saw Leah Finnegan’s departure and Leah Beckmann’s ascension, there were many heated conversations about the future voice and purpose of Gawker as a site, and who got to define what that meant. In one particularly spirited conversation I had with Keenan Trotter, a senior writer at, the topic of “worth” at a publication like Gawker was pored over. I suggested that a personal essay is just as valuable as an investigative piece if both have the power to change the way people think about and reassess the culture we live in. Trotter kindly suggested that my thinking on this matter could be why I was not considered as valuable as my equivalent male writers. He sent me a link to a story that was the result of the male staff writer hunting down an investigation handed to him from the obsessive mind of John Cook, our then-investigations editor. Trotter asked me, “I mean, would you really want to do this story?”

I responded to him: “I would do any kind of story if I was asked. But I was never asked.”

Ashley Feinberg later told me:

“Your value at Gawker is defined by how well your interests line up with those of the people in power. When you have the same predilections, the same fascinations as someone, you are obviously going to speak to them more; you’re going to become closer, and you’re going to trust them more. Because men are almost always going to have more in common with other men, that’s who they’re going to default to when it comes time to pass out a tip, a piece of advice, or more noticeably, a promotion.

“Which is why it’s hard to fault them for it entirely — women do the same thing to other women. The problem is that, because so few women are in positions of authority, it creates a terrible cycle where women have to work twice as hard to command the same sort of attention. Otherwise, you’ll just get drowned out.”

I sent Nick Denton three requests for comment on this story. In his first two responses, Denton asked for me to divert to Dietrick in his stead, which I did twice, but with questions about Denton’s attitudes specifically left unanswered by her. After enough goading, two and a half weeks after my first attempt to reach out to him, he responded to my third email, “Were there any more general questions, about the company as a whole, that are better answered by me?” By that time, I’d gotten all I needed.

Though this is a story about Gawker Media — a cohort of publications that I grew up reading and admiring, a place where I saw my writing grow and where I’ve worked alongside some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever met — it could be about any company in any number of industries. Gawker may pride itself on being a trailblazer in the stubbornly slow-to-adapt media, but only if starts to treat gender favoritism as the toxic epidemic that it is, will that reputation truly be deserved. After all, someone’s gotta do it.

This story was written by Dayna Evans, a writer for The Cut at New York Magazine. It was edited by Leah Beckmann, former interim editor-in-chief of Gawker and former senior editor at Matter. Illustration by Jim Cooke.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:18 am

Society for the History of Technology
by Wikipedia
February 8, 2017



The Society for the History of Technology, or SHOT, is the primary professional society for historians of technology. SHOT was founded in 1958 in the United States, and it has since become an international society with members "from some thirty-five countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa."[1] SHOT owes its existence largely to the efforts of Professor Melvin Kranzberg (1917-1995). A co-founder and its eleventh president was Eugene S. Ferguson. SHOT's flagship publication is the journal Technology and Culture, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Kranzberg served as editor of Technology and Culture until 1981, and was succeeded as editor by Robert C. Post until 1995, and John M. Staudenmaier from 1996 until 2010. The current editor of Technology and Culture is Suzanne Moon at the University of Oklahoma. SHOT is an affiliate of the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Historical Association and publishes a joint booklet series with the AHA, "Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture," under the co-editorship of Pamela O. Long, Robert C. Post and Asif Azam Siddiqi.[2] Pamela O. Long is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for 2014.[3]

The history of technology was traditionally linked to economic history and history of science, but its interactions are now equally strong with environmental history, gender history, business history, and labor history. SHOT annually awards two book prizes, the Edelstein Prize and the Hacker Prize, as well as the Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship and the Brooke Hindle Postdoctoral Fellowship. Its highest award is the Leonardo da Vinci Medal. Recipients of the medal include Kranzberg, Ferguson, Post, Staudenmaier, Bart Hacker, and Brooke Hindle. In 1968 Kranzberg was also instrumental in the founding of a sister society, the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC) in 1968. The two societies complement each other.

The Society for the History of Technology is dedicated to the historical study of technology and its relations with politics, economic, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science, and the arts. The society now numbers around 1500 members, and holds its meeting at a non-North-American venue every third year. SHOT also sponsors smaller conferences focused on specialized topics, often jointly with other scholarly societies and organizations.

Special Interest Groups

• The Albatrosses (technology of flight)
• SIGCIS: Computers, Information and Society
• EDITH: Exploring Diversity in Technology's History
• Envirotech (technology and the natural environment)
• The Jovians (electrical technology)
• The Lynn White Junior Society: Prior to the "Industrial Revolution"
• The Mercurians (communications technology)
• SMiTInG (military technology)
• The Pelicans
• The Prometheans (engineering)
• SHOT Asia Network
• TEMSIG: Technology Museums Special Interest Group
• WITH: Women in Technological History

Annual Meetings

• 2006 − Las Vegas, NV − October 12–14
• 2007 − Washington, D.C. − October 17–21
• 2008 − Lisbon, Portugal − October 11–14
• 2009 − Pittsburgh, PA − October 15–19
• 2010 − Tacoma, WA − September 29 - October 4
• 2011 − Cleveland, OH − November 2–6
• 2012 − Copenhagen, Denmark − October 4–7
• 2013 − Portland, ME - October 10–13
• 2014 − Dearborn, MI - November 6–9
• 2015 − Albuquerque, NM - October 7–11
• 2016 − Singapore - June 22–26


1. Society for the History of Technology (SHOT),
2. "Historical Perspectives," Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), ... klets.html
3. Felicia R. Lee, "MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows," New York Times, September 17, 2014, ... llows.html
• David A. Hounshell, "Eugene S. Ferguson, 1916-2004," Technology and Culture 45 (2004): 911-21. DOI
• Robert C. Post, "Back at the Start: History and the History of Technology," Technology and Culture 51 (2010): 961-94. Muse
• Robert C. Post, "Chance and Contingency: Putting Mel Kranzberg in Context," Technology and Culture 50 (2009): 839-72. DOI
• Robert C. Post, "'A Very Special Relationship': SHOT and the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology," Technology and Culture 42 (2001): 401-35. DOI

External links

• Official website
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:21 am

February 8, 2017



Call for Papers: Command Lines: Software, Power, and Performance, March 18-19, 2017

Command Lines: Software, Power, and Performance is a meeting that will draw together scholars from a variety of fields that study software. These fields include: the history of computing; science and technology studies; software studies; code studies; game studies; media studies; the study of women, gender and sexuality; studies of race, ethnicity and postcoloniality; and computer science and engineering. Command Lines is collaboratively organized by SIGCIS (Special Interest Group for Computing, Information and Society) and the Computer History Museum.

The Call for Papers is posted, with a deadline of December 30, 2016. The meeting will be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, on March 18-19, 2017.

For more information, visit our SIGCIS Meetings website.

By arussell at 2016-10-26

2016 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Dinesh C. Sharma, The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution (MIT Press, 2015).

Prize Citation: Dinesh Sharma has written a highly accessible book on a significant topic - the history of computing in India - that is well-grounded in sources and interviews. The Outsourcer is full of fascinating stories on the beginnings of computing in India. Sharma does an excellent job contextualizing this story within broader Indian history and the history of computing in the West. Trained as a journalist, Sharma has produced a book that is both carefully researched and engaging to the reader. He regales and rewards readers with a great selection of anecdotes. The committee is pleased to award the 2016 Computer History Museum Prize to Dinesh C. Sharma for The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution.

The Outsourcer is available from MIT Press.

By arussell at 2016-07-19

2016 Mahoney Prize

Winner: Andrew L. Russell and Valérie Schafer, "In the Shadow of ARPANET and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s," Technology and Culture 55, no. 4 (October 2014): 880-907.

Prize Citation: This paper expands our understanding of how networks emerged and evolved. It contributed additional evidence of the international nature of ICTs, in this case, within France. The paper is another example of the power of international collaboration among scholars. It provides a meaningful narrative of a key piece of French networking history that has been understudied in a polished essay.

The essay is available via Project Muse

By arussell at 2016-07-19

SIGCIS Workshop 2016: Convergence and Divergence

SHOT-SIGCIS Singapore Workshop

June 26, 2016

“Convergence and Divergence”

The Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS) 2016 annual Workshop will be held on June 26, 2016. The workshop begins immediately after the regular annual meeting of our parent organization, the Society for the History of Technology in Singapore.


By Admin at 2015-12-24

2015 Mahoney Prize

Winner: David Nofre, Mark Priestley, and Gerard Alberts, "When Technology Became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Compter Programming, 1950-1960," Technology and Culture 55 (January 2014): 40-75.

Prize Citation: This paper presents a history of the emergence of high-level computer languages, documenting co-evolving relationships between computer technology and communities of practice. In tracing the genealogy of a phenomenon that seems to us today second nature -- the "computer language" -- their work is a particularly worthy inaugural winner of a prize honoring Mike Mahoney, who did so much to conceptualize the history of that most evanescent technology, computer software.

By arussell at 2015-12-18

2015 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Rebecca Slayton, Arguments That Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 (MIT, 2013).

Prize Citation: Rebecca Slayton’s Arguments That Count advances the history of computing in several significant ways. Through careful, original research and clear writing, Slayton grants a wide audience access to the complex and highly controversial story of the role of computing in missile defense. Slayton’s book deftly unpacks the institutional and rhetorical aspects of arguments set forth by physicists and computer scientists as they wrangled over the feasibility of developing systems capable of stopping ICBMs. By demonstrating how scientists and computing experts crafted and sold their arguments justifying the development of risky, expensive technological solutions to geopolitical problems, this study yields insights that are relevant to the many other areas in which heavy investment in technological systems is championed as a solution to existential problem.

By arussell at 2015-12-18

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email?

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email? A Computer Historian Responds

Now includes both the original 2012 article comissioned by the Washington Post, a lengthy extension covering Ayyadurai's susequent claims added in August 2012, a second update focused on Ayyadurai's new book The Email Revolution: Unleashing the Power to Connect (Allworth, 2013), and a third update covering the evolution of Ayyadurai's public relations campaign over the next two years.

This page has become rather long, so here is the one paragraph version, focused on some inaccuracies in recent press reports (added September 2014): V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is not a member of the MIT faculty and did not invent email. In 1980 he created a small-scale electronic mail system used within University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but this could not send messages outside the university and included no important features missing from earlier systems. The details of Ayyadurai’s program were never published, it was never commercialized, and it had no apparent influence on any further work in the field. He does not “hold the patent for email” or have a copyright on the word email, though in 1982 he did register a copyright claim covering the exact text of a program called "EMAIL." The U.S. Government has not recognized him as the inventor of email and he did not win the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for his program. Electronic mail services were widely used in the 1960s and 1970s and were commercially available long before 1980. To substantiate his claim to be the "inventor of email" Ayyadurai would have to show that no electronic mail system was produced prior to 1980, and so he has recently created an absurdly specific and historically inaccurate definition of electronic mail designed to exclude earlier systems. Ayyadurai has not even been able to show that he was the first to contract “electronic mail” to “email” or “e-mail” – his first documented use is in 1981 whereas the Oxford English Dictionary shows a newspaper usage in 1979. Despite Ayyadurai’s energetic public relations campaign, which presents him as the victim of a racist conspiracy financed by corporate interests, he has not received support from any credible experts in email technology or the history of information technology. His claims have been widely debunked by technology bloggers and articles based on them have been retracted by the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

By thaigh at 2015-08-04

SIGCIS 2015 Workshop

SIGCIS Workshop 2015: Infrastructures
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Keynote Speaker:
Nathan Ensmenger (Indiana University)

"The Materiality of the Virtual: An Environmental History of Computing"

The Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS) will host our annual one-day scholarly workshop on Sunday, October 11, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is immediately after the end of the regular annual meeting of our parent organization, the Society for the History of Technology, details of which are available from ... l_meeting/.

Questions about the SIGCIS 2015 workshop should be addressed to Andrew Russell (Stevens Institute of Technology), who is serving as chair of the workshop organizing committee (e-mail:

Workshop Theme: Infrastructures

Across academic, artistic, and popular domains, curiosity and concern over the information and computing infrastructures that sustain economic, cultural, and social interaction has never been more salient. In contrast to the hype generated by the gadgetry of innovation prophets and venture capitalists, an emphasis on infrastructure highlights networks of labor and focuses on the human, material, and ecological cost and scale of information and computing technologies.

By Admin at 2015-05-28

Computer History Museum Prize

The Computer History Museum Prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding book in the history of computing broadly conceived, published during the prior three years. The prize of $1,000 is awarded by SIGCIS, the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS is part of the Society for the History of Technology.

In 2012 the prize was endowed in perpetuity through a generous bequest from the estate of Paul Baran, a legendary computer innovator and entrepreneur best known for his work to develop and promote the packet switching approach on which modern networks are built. Baran was a longtime supporter of work on the history of information technology and named the prize to celebrate the contributions of the Computer History Museum to that field.

2017 Call for Submission

Books published in 2014-2016 are eligible for the 2017 award. Books in translation are eligible for three years following the date of their publication in English. Publishers, authors, and other interested members of the computer history community are invited to nominate books. Please note that books nominated in previous years may be nominated again, provided they have been published in the timeframes specified above. Send one copy of the nominated title to each of the committee members listed below. To be considered, book submissions must be postmarked by April 15, 2017. For more information, please contact Jason Gallo, SIGCIS Vice Chair for Operations. Current information about the prize, including the most recent call and a list of previous winners, always may be found at

By Admin at 2014-11-16

2014 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Janet Abbate, Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (MIT Press, 2012)

Prize Citation: Gender is an important but under-examined dimension of computing. Janet Abbate’s book, Recoding Gender, unveils the gendered conceptions that shaped past and current assumptions of what specific work practices, personalities, and talents are essential to the field. Early studies of gender in computing focused on particularly prominent women (such as Grace Murray Hopper), or women’s contributions to famous projects (such as ENIAC). Recoding Gender instead uses women’s day-to-day experiences to reveal the obstacles encountered and the strategies developed by women who carved out professional careers as corporate programmers, software entrepreneurs, or academic computer scientists. Based on extensive oral histories, all made available online by the author, Abbate's book provides new material for the historical study of women in computing, offering at the same time new ground for current debates on women's under-represented position within computing. We expect it to enjoy a wide readership and to inspire further research.

By Admin at 2014-11-16

SIGCIS 2014 Workshop

Computing the Big Picture:

Situating Information Technology in Broader Historical Narratives

SIGCIS Workshop 2014

November 9, 2014, Dearborn, Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Jennifer S. Light, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

By Admin at 2014-06-27

2013 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Joseph A. November, Biomedical Computing: Digitizing Life in the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)

Prize Citation

In the mid-twentieth century, digital computers began to transform biomedicine. In Biomedical Computing, Joseph November presents an original and compelling account of the processes by which diverse communities in biology and medicine came to embrace digital methods and machines. Furthermore, while historians have demonstrated the influence of physical sciences on early computing, November also demonstrates the forgotten ways in which the demands of biomedical communities shaped computing. In addition to bringing an often neglected scientific community into clear view for historians of computing, Biomedical Computing establishes an important dialogue with the history of science. While historians of technology and business have found ample reason to study computing, Biomedical Computing makes the computer--and thus the history of computing--relevant for science and medicine audiences in general. We expect it to enjoy a broad readership, and to inspire new kinds of computer history.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:30 am

Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) is New Name for SPC. Name and Website Reflect Expanding Focus on Member Needs
by Systems and Software Consortium, Inc.
Herndon, Va.,
Mar 22, 2005



Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) is the new name of the Software Productivity Consortium, SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane announced today. SSCI is a non-profit consortium where leading aerospace, defense, IT, financial industry, educational and government organizations collaborate on the challenges faced in building critical systems. Coupled with its new identity, the Consortium also launched a new website ( to better inform its members, employees and the public about the evolving, dynamic and critical mission of SSCI.

SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane said, "Our focus is clearly on our members' needs. We have realigned our current offerings and are investing more heavily in new solutions that help members manage risk, advance the business value of their systems engineering activities, and drive business performance."

SSCI solutions are now focused on delivering value in three key areas:

* Value-driven process improvement, where SSCI's unique expertise in systems and software process improvement helps members implement high- maturity, measurable processes to increase quality and productivity
while reducing cycle time.

* Lifecycle strategies for complex systems, including minimizing risk, designing and validating architectures, defining system requirements and interfaces, implementing team approaches, and improving mission assurance.

* Integrating systems and software engineering through proven engineering methods for agile, secure systems development, effective project management, in-depth measurement and analysis, and automated testing and verification.

These solutions reflect an increased emphasis on serving members' needs in complex systems and software development.

Dr. Kane added, "Part of the challenge we face is keeping our members up to date and aware of industry changes and accompanying solutions developed through the Consortium. Our new name and website help us better serve our
members, and convey our core focus more efficiently."

SSCI will continue in its successful collaborative assistance through delivering software process expertise, much like in past contributions with Consortium members in key DoD programs like the DD(X) next generation surface combatant ship and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

About the Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI)

SSCI is a nonprofit partnership of the nation's leading systems integrators and federal government contractors, as well as selected government affiliates, exclusively focused on helping its members improve the business performance of their systems and software programs. SSCI delivers value by improving systems and software engineering tools and methods that members can apply to their programs resulting in better performance and greater efficiencies. The Consortium also offers members a trusted environment in which to collaborate on common problems and jointly invest in solution development. Current industry members include, BAE Systems, Boeing, Citigroup, CSC, EDS, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Unisys, UTC, and others. For more information see

... industry insiders, loyal to Raytheon/BBN, a multi-billion dollar defense company, had created their entire brand, bearing the ‘@’ logo, based on claims of having “invented email”. This group unleashed a vicious public relations campaign. This campaign aimed to discredit email’s origins, intimidate journalists who did not parrot their claims, and assassinate Shiva’s character, while defending and promoting Raytheon/BBN’s brand as the “inventor of email” in the lucrative and competitive cyber-security market.

The leaders of these attacks included David Crocker, a member of the ARPAnet research community starting in 1972, and “historians” and “experts”, either former or current employees of Raytheon/BBN or close associates.

-- The First Email System, by Robert Field
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:00 am

Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) to host first-ever 'Industry Panel' at SSTC in Salt Lake City
by Systems and Software Consortium, Inc.
Herndon, VA
Apr 14, 2005



SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane to lead discussion on strengthening industry-to-government collaboration at the Systems and Software Technology Conference in Salt Lake City.

Conference: Systems and Software Technology Conference (SSTC)
Salt Palace Convention Center
Salt Lake City, Utah April 18-21, 2005

What: Industry Panel

Date & Time: Tuesday, April 19, 2005, 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Salt Palace Convention Center Ballroom

Moderator: Dr. Jim Kane, President & CEO, Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI)

Theme: "Perspectives on Government-Industry Partnership"

Panelists: Paul Cofoni, President, CSC Federal Sector

Grover W. Hall, Vice President, Technical Operations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.

Dr. David F. McQueeney, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Federal

Bob Stow, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Technology, BAE SYSTEMS, North America

Lou Von Thaer, President, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems

As a new addition to SSTC, the SSCI Industry Panel will explore ways to foster and strengthen industry-to-government collaboration in the design and creation of large, complex systems. Hosted by Dr. Jim Kane, SSCI President and CEO, the Industry Panel will follow an earlier "Co-sponsors Panel" on Tuesday morning, when the senior defense officials who sponsor SSTC will discuss similar issues from a government point-of-view.

During the Industry Panel, Kane and the other executive panelists will offer their thoughts on current issues and future trends affecting DoD and the warfighter, while sharing lessons learned from key collaborative programs that industry supports within the service branches. Other potential topics will focus on the most effective and best-suited management and technology strategies available to foster positive government-to-industry collaboration and improve program success rates.

"The Industry Panel adds a new dimension to the dialog at SSTC," Dr. Kane said. "We are anticipating a highly interactive session between our panelists and our counterparts in government contracting organizations. We agree with the conference management team that this expanded interaction between industry and government will benefit all SSTC attendees."

About SSCI

SSCI is a non-profit consortium of the nation's leading systems integrators and federal government contractors, as well as selected government affiliates, exclusively focused on helping its members improve the business performance of their systems and software programs. SSCI delivers value by improving systems and software engineering tools and methods that members can apply to their programs, resulting in better performance and greater efficiencies. SSCI also offers members a trusted environment in which to collaborate on common problems and jointly invest in solution development. Current industry members include BAE Systems, Citigroup, CSC, EDS, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, UTC and others. For more information, visit

About SSTC

Now in its 17th year, SSTC is the premier joint services systems and software technology conference in the Department of Defense (DoD). Hosted by the DoD service branches and Utah State University, participants include stakeholders from the military, civilian government agencies, defense contractors, industry and academia. Learn more at
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:39 am

Former Washington Post ombudsman named News-Post editor
by Paige Jones
Jun 16, 2015




After a nationwide search and sifting through scores of applicants, The Frederick News-Post named veteran journalist and former Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton as top editor, the company announced Monday.

Pexton, 60, of Chevy Chase, will oversee the entirety of the News-Post editorial staff, which includes the daily paper’s reporters, editors, photographers, copy editors and page designers.

As the head editor, Pexton said he hopes to “lead the newsroom to be an integral part of the Frederick County community and the Frederick conversation,” noting his dedication to the job stems from his love of Frederick and passion for community news.

An inherently curious person drawn to the written word, the Los Angeles native launched his journalism career as a staff writer covering two towns in Connecticut in the early 1980s.

During his career, Pexton worked as a staff writer for various publications including The Montgomery Journal and The Navy Times before moving into management positions. He served as a managing editor and later deputy editor of The National Journal, a nonpartisan weekly magazine based in Washington about politics and government.

“There hasn’t been any job in journalism that I haven’t liked,” Pexton said with a laugh.

In 2011, Pexton became The Washington Post’s ombudsman, where he served as an intermediary between readers and the newspaper’s award-winning staff.

Pexton said serving in this role will help him at the News-Post because he understands “why people get upset” over content and how important it is for editors to explain to readers how journalists work and how the online world has transformed newspapers.

“I’m going to be as available as I can be in the community in addition to managing the newsroom,” he said.

Despite his Chevy Chase address, Pexton is familiar with Frederick, noting he and his wife Marcia Daft were first introduced to the city nearly 10 years ago through their many friends and acquaintances who live and work in the county. Pexton and Daft were married at the barn at The Lucy School in Middletown.

The small-town charm and tight-knit community enchanted Pexton and his wife, who serves as a professional musician and arts educator, and his fascination for the county later propelled Pexton to apply as the leading editor of the News-Post.

Geordie Wilson, the paper’s publisher, said Pexton was chosen from a pool of highly-qualified candidates who hailed from all over the country after the company received nearly 100 applications.

“Patrick, with his experience at every level of journalism, from community weeklies to The Washington Post is going to bring a new level of excellence to the pages of The Frederick News-Post,” Wilson said.

Will Randall, the vice president and chief operating officer of the New-Post, stated he found Pexton to be “insightful and smart” and that he will help the paper improve because “he really understands how to make news content stronger and more interesting.”

“We need to matter more to our community and I firmly believe Patrick is the right newsroom leader to get us to where we need to be,” Randall said in an email.
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