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New US Digital Service Looks to Avoid IT Catastrophes

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, August 13 2014

USDS' Mikey Dickerson at the 2009 MySQL Conference (Photo by Jorge Bernal)

At a time when the public's trust in institutions is at historic lows, the federal government's use of technology has an unusual place in the national discourse. After the first Internet president's administration was responsible for the high-profile failure of Healthcare.gov, the issue seemed ripe to drive significant reform on Capitol Hill. Even if some 10 million adults gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act after "Obama's trauma team" made successful fixes to Healthcare.gov, negative public perception has lingered, and for good reason. Under the radar, other projects have continued to sputter, like a $300 million dollar Social Security government IT boondoggle that still has not delivered a working system for submitting disability claims. The crash of the FCC's dated website under the weight of 1.1 million comments this summer didn't help, either. At the same time, the confidence of the technology community has been damaged by revelations of dragnet surveillance and surreptitious backdoors planted in software. Now, the executive branch has launched two new initiatives aimed squarely at these issues, 18F and the just-announced US Digital Service, Alex Howard reports. Read More

First POST: Public Enemies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 13 2014

James Bamford, our foremost chronicler of the NSA, talks to Edward Snowden; Black Twitter's hashtag activism and the Michael Brown killing; dissecting the 1.1 million comments on the FCC's Open Internet proposal; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Jumping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 12 2014

The US Digital Service arrives; what hashtag activism is really good for; unmasking some anti-net-neutrality sock puppets; new voting technology advances; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Dueling

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 7 2014

The RNC's hopes to reach young urban Uber-users; the DCCC's science of small-donor fundraising; a new mobile app for voter information launches; and much, much more. Read More

Google Street View Cars Measure Methane Gas Leaks

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 1 2014

Screenshot of the three EDF maps: Boston, Indianapolis, and Staten Island

Cities degrade. Potholes may jar us and delays due to construction may irritate us, but it is impossible to perceive the full extent of a city's decay. Environmental Defense Fund, however, has partnered with Google Earth Outreach to make visible one environmental hazard of aging infrastructure: natural gas leaks. Earlier this month they published maps of leaks in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island. The project was the first for which Google Earth Outreach deployed Street View cars for environmental research purposes.

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First POST: Angry News Feed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 23 2014

How Facebook's News Feed may be accentuating negative political polarization; new tools for visualizing political corruption; how posting your cat's photo online gives away your location; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Unequal Relationships

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 11 2014

A rush to legislate new data collection law in the UK is drawing pushback; how the cellphone unlocking movement is a great example of "internet activism"; why journalists should fear Facebook; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: First They Came For the Muslims

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 9 2014

The Intercept details NSA and FBI surveillance of Muslim-American civic leaders; Om Malik urges Google and Facebook to take their big data responsibilities more seriously; the New York Public Library attacks the digital divide; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Don't Forget

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

How Google is starting to implement the "right to be forgotten" decision in Europe; more Facebook research experiments on its users; Lawrence Lessig teams up with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Trafficking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, June 23 2014

Booker-Rubio bill to expand Wi-Fi spectrum launches; House members cryptoparty on the Hill; Chicago's new sensor network has fans and detractors; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Cheers

How to not overreact to the Sony hack; the FCC admits it lost nearly 680,000 open internet comments; a great civic app wish-list; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Dealing

As North Korea's Internet mysteriously goes down, doubts remain about the source of the Sony hack; Facebook's Russia dilemma; some big news in open government data; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Brewing

How Democratic tech firms are jockeying for 2016 presidential roles; the FEC inches back into regulating the Internet; why Tumblr is a social justice movement hotbed; and much, much more. GO

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