No More End-to-End-Cyber: Why I've Resigned from Software Engineering Radio

, Jan 14, 2017

I’ve just announced my resignation from Software Engineering Radio, a podcast I’ve been involved with for quite some time.

The TL;DR of the explanation: I refuse to have ads from US arms manufacturers placed into a podcast against my will.

I first appeared as a guest on SE Radio talking about REST a very long time ago, interviewed by Markus Völter, the podcast’s founder. I joined again as a guest talking about monoliths and microservices, before becoming one of the hosts. I recorded a number of episodes with an amazingly great set of guests, including Camille Fournier, David Heinemeier Hansson, Michael Nygard, Jay Fields, Vaughn Vernon, Kyle Kingsbury, Mark Nottingham, and Adrian Cockcroft. I enjoyed the chance to spend time talking to my guests tremendously, and I’m pretty sure quite a few listeners enjoyed the results, too.

For a long time, SE Radio has been run by the IEEE Computer Society, the organization Markus Völter handed the podcast over to when he resigned from it. This has had positive effects, such as taking on Robert Blumen as an editor, who does a great job maintaining the herd of cats that is the show host team.

The decision to run ads was discussed with the podcast hosts, and while I prefer podcasts that don’t have ads, I understand that they’re a great way to offset the cost and potentially even make some money. But the first ad to appear in the SE Radio podcast was one by Northrop Grumman, and it was not only one that I found very questionable from an ethics standpoint, but also intolerably stupid (“your leader in end-to-end cyber”, you’ve got to be kidding me).

I might have tolerated this, but the straw that broke the camel’s back were some discussions about editorial policies regarding politics and ethics discussions in the podcasts itself. This, in combination with running an ad for technology for today’s battlefield (which, you know, “is increasingly cyber”), was just too much.

Sadly, SE Radio is now part of the IEEE Computer Society, an organization with strong ties to the US military and its vendors, and my and some other hosts’ attempts to do anything about this led to no resolution. The IEEE CS is free to not care about the views of its hosts. I’m free to spend my free time somewhere else.

Which is actually something I’m currently actively planning on doing; stay tuned for some podcast-related news sometime soon.