NY Times Scribes David Pogue and Nick Kristof: Digital Impersonation and Moral Indignation

Two of the Grey Lady’s greatest voices graced BlogTalkRadio yesterday; one with a titter-worthy Twitter tale, the other enraged by enslavement of the fair sex in South Asia.

Interviewed on Zane Safrit, New York Times personal-technology columnist David Pogue recalled his ironic road from social-media critic to social-media convert.

CAPTION: David: Illicit aid accumulating Twitter followers.

David: Underhanded aid in accumulating Twitter followers.

“Interestingly, I didn’t start on Twitter. An imposter did!” he told host Zane Safrit.

“I used to employ an office assistant, whose husband unbeknownst to me, had signed up for a Twitter account using my name— and had been tweeting, with absolutely no knowledge by me, for months!

“When I finally discovered this, somebody said, ‘Hey, I’ve been enjoying following you on Twitter.’ And I was like, ‘But I’m not on Twitter,’” continued David, who also pens the popular “Pogue’s Posts” blog and who authored the new book, The World According to Twitter.

“So the guy wound up admitting it. And he’s like, ‘Hey, I’ll give you the password if you want.’ Darn thoughtful of him!

“By that time, I already had like 1,000 followers from not even being online. Fortunately, he didn’t do anything awful. He was tweeting stuff that I might tweet, like ‘On my way to [the Consumer Electronics Show] in Las Vegas!’

“So I had never really been into Twitter. I was sort of skeptical and thought is was yet another time-waster of the Internet. And I wrote as much in the Times when I first reviewed it.

“And then, one day I was at a grant-committee meeting, judging grant proposals, and someone had proposed needing money for a van that makes eyeglasses, that would go to Sub-Saharan Africa, where there’s no eye care at all, and make glasses for people on the spot,” added David.

“So the question was, Had this project ever been done before? And this guy sitting next to me opened his laptop and said, ‘Hold on a second.’ And he asked his followers. And in 15 seconds they said, ‘Yea, 1989, UNICEF—da-da-da-da.’ And they had all these links and it was just amazing.

“There was no other format, no other channel that could’ve come up with an answer that quickly, that effectively in real time.”

CAPTION: Nicholas: Nepalese slave-trafficking nothing to sneeze at.

Nicholas: Nepalese slave-trafficking nothing to sneeze at.

David’s colleague Nicholas D. Kristof, meanwhile, found nothing to laugh about in his latest literary endeavor.

Interviewed on SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association show, the Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the Times recounted a disturbing anecdote from his and wife Sheryl WuDunn‘s travels to South Asia while conducting research for their new, bestselling exposé, Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

“I had just come from doing interviews in Bihar, in northern India, and was truly horrified at what I’d seen in terms of these girls being trafficked into modern slavery,” he told host Sree Sreenivasan.

“I was at the border crossing into Nepal, where a lot of Nepali girls were being trafficked across into India, destined to the brothels of Calcutta or Mumbai.

“And there was an Indian officer who spoke great English and said he’d been sent by the intelligence bureau to monitor. So I asked him what he was monitoring,” continued Nicholas.

“He said he was looking for terror-related things and also pirated DVDs. He explained that there had been American pressure to try to curb—to try and keep an eye out for anything related to terrorism. Also for pirated intellectual property.

“Then I asked about these girls, who were being trafficked across that very border. And he shrugged and said, ‘Well, there’s nothing you can really do about that. Prostitution is inevitable.’

“His basic point was that it’s really sad that these Nepali girls are enslaved in brothels, but that they’re uneducated, they’re peasants, and that by staffing the brothels, they keep good Indian middle-class girls safe.

“They create an outlet so that the men can go to the brothels, and those men don’t harass the middle-class girls.

“I just about wrung the guy’s neck. But that might’ve undermined my humanitarian image.”

To hear David’s full interview, click here.

To read David’s Times columns, click here.

To hear Nicholas and Sheryl’s full interview, click here.

To read Nicholas’ Times columns, click here.

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