I recently published an email discussion in which a friend posed challenges to the adoption of privacy-preserving tools and platforms. Blogger Vova stated: "So What if Google Sends me Targetted Ads?".
There is real value in exploring opposing viewpoints to digital privacy. I will begin this short series by 'steelmanning' one of the common complaints about privacy tools, which is that they are too difficult too set up and manage. But first I will review what it means to steelman an argument.
When you try to formulate your opponent's view in the most robust way possible, you are steelmanning their argument. Unlike 'straw manning' an argument, which presents a weak and unfair version of your opponent's view, the steelman version shows generosity towards your opponent.
Wikipedia has a good overview of the different types of 'man' arguments. It also explains 'iron manning', which is closer to straw manning in that it is manipulative, not charitable.1