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First POST: Happy Pi Day

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 14 2012

By Kimberly Vardeman (originally posted to Flickr as Summer Berry Pie), via Wikimedia Commons


  • Rick Santorum's somewhat surprising wins in both Alabama and Mississippi last night was reflected in Google search data, where he was leading Mitt Romney in those states in the last two days.

  • The Santorum campaign also sent out an e-mail yesterday announcing his "Pubic Schedule."

  • A New York Times op-ed by a top executive at Goldman Sachs, titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” is trending across the United States on Twitter this morning. Explosive.

  • Speaking of resigning, in a blog post, a former Google employee wrote that he left the company because the "Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus." He also writes, with regard to Google +, "sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it."

  • A new Pew report indicates that many Internet users don't agree politically with their friends on social networks. Is this news?

    Among the SNS [social networking sites] users whose friends post political content, 25% always agree or mostly agree with their friends’ political postings; 73% of these SNS users “only sometimes” agree or never agree with their friends’ political postings. When they disagree with others’ posts, 66% of these SNS users say they usually ignore the posts; 28% said they usually respond with comments or posts of their own; and 5% said it depends on the circumstances.

    According to the study, 47 percent of users have hit the “like” button in response to political comments or material posted by someone else, while 38 percent have made a positive comment in response to a political post, behavior that the study found to be more common among Democratic users. Based on the survey, around 40 percent of the adult population say their friends post political content from time-to-time, though liberal users are more likely to have such politically interested friends. But 64 percent of those who say they receive political information on social networking sites say they only agree with their friends sometimes, while 66 percent of those users said they usually ignore material they disagreed with.

  • In his article about talks between Mashable and CNN, Brian Stelter from the New York Times used a Facebook "like" by Mashable executive editor Adam Ostrow as a source. Stelter’s exact phrasing: “There was a social media hint about the potential acquisition early Monday morning when Adam Ostrow, the executive editor of Mashable, “liked” on Facebook Mr. Salmon’s story for Reuters. Mr. Ostrow did not respond to a request for comment.”

    We here at techPresident would “like” to lodge a formal protest; the correct phrasing should be “Facebook-liked,” meaning an online social gesture that may or may not be a statement of affiliation, or interest, or snark, or a tease, or disapproval.

  • In Sunshine Week news, USPIRG has just released its rankings of all fifty states on their online spending transparency. Most of the news is refreshingly good. In a case of watchdogs watching the watchdogs, the website Government Attic has obtained copies of logs identifying thousands of FOIA requests from agencies, data provided to the chairman of has obtained thousands of FOIA requests made by chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Darrell Issa.

  • Also, in recognition of Sunshine Week, the White House provided an update on its implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will begin posting monthly lists of Freedom of Information Act requests to the department's three highest offices, and introduce a new way for the public to submit FOIA requests to the agency's senior leadership offices online, and to track these requests at any time.

  • The Encyclopedia Britannica will stop its print edition after 244 years, the New York Times reported, and focus on its online edition, which half a million people currently pay $70 a year to access. The print edition is $1395.

    [The president of Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.] said that he believed Britannica’s competitive advantage with Wikipedia came from its prestigious sources, its carefully edited entries and the trust that was tied to the brand. “We have very different value propositions,” Mr. Cauz said. “Britannica is going to be smaller. We cannot deal with every single cartoon character, we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity. But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won’t be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct.”

  • Notable

  • Google looked at search data for the two Senate candidates in Virginia, Tim Kaine and George Allen, and found them to have been virtually tied for the past month. It does not appear that Google took Senate candidate Hank the Cat into consideration.

  • A new website plays an important role in a new White House jobs proposal.

    Online American Job Center: In the coming months, the Administration will also unveil a new, integrated online American Job Center at which will provide a single point of access to resources oriented to the needs of an individual or business. This online tool will mean 24-7 access to key information to help people find a job, identify training programs, and tap into resources to gain skills in growth industries. The website, which will incorporate information from key federal programs and critical local resources, will also serve a resource for the brick-and-mortar Job Centers throughout the country.

  • The CEO of Invisible Children has released a new video where he seeks to address some of the criticism raised by the popularity of the Kony 2012 video. So far this video has just 200,000 views.

  • Graphic images of the victims of the apparent shooting rampage of Afghani civilians by a U.S. soldier have been circulating online and fueling anger among Afghans.

  • The UN special rapporteur on torture has accused the U.S. government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning.

  • Rep. Bob Turner (R - NY) has announced he will challenge New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Turner won the seat previously held by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) in an intense campaign last fall, but his district is likely to disappear in the redistricting process. The Gillibrand campaign has already begun linking Turner to Rush Limbaugh.

  • Speaking of Limbaugh, on the White House’s We the People site, which is increasingly becoming a focal point for a variety of public campaigns and grievances, one petition demanding the removal of Rush Limbaugh from the Armed Forces Radio Network has over 25,800 signatures, while a counter-petition has over 1,100 signatures.

  • Several liberal and non-partisan groups have launched a campaign against the influence of corporate money in politics that includes a $25,000 cash reward for the first employee who can document their employer's secret use of corporate funds to influence an election. Weirdly, the group offering the $25,000 prize, Americans United for Change, doesn’t mention it on their home page.

  • Prosecutors have subpoenaed the tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester from around the time he was arrested during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in October. The protester, Jeff Rae, has posted the subpoena on Twitter, where he said it has received 13,000 views.

  • Several Facebook users have overrun the page of Virginia Republican caucus chairman Ryan McDougle with detailed posts about their female health issues to protest his stance on abortion. While the posts were eventually deleted and comments disabled, Daily Kos still has screenshots. A female state senator in Ohio has introduced a bill that would require men to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and get a notarized affidavit from a partner before getting a prescription for a drug like Viagra. She says the bill is in response to other legislative attempts to legislate "a woman's womb."

  • Search Engine Land notes the paradox that even though a majority of respondents to a Pew survey said they preferred Google as a search engine, they then objected to search personalization and data mining for that purpose.

  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the Department of Commerce, rejected ICANN's bid to continue overseeing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, saying it must change some of its governing policies. ICANN's blog recently came out with a thought paper that "offers guidance for anyone who prepares an order that seeks to seize or take down domain names" to help preparers of legal or regulatory actions.

  • Google has posted an annotated video from one of its search quality meetings where employees discuss tweaks to the search query process.

  • A college student, software developer and free speech activist shared his impressions of arrested LulzSec hacker Sabu from online communications he had with him. The FBI denies that it let the Anonymous attack on Stratfor proceed on purpose, saying that it did not find out the details in time to have prevented the breach. However, the FBI was able to, with Sabu's help, persuade the hackers to store data stolen from Stratfor on an agency computer.

  • A New York Times article on how hotels are revamping their offerings to attract young people notes the following observations from hospitality experts.

    Mr. Hanson, [dean of the hospitality program at NYU] said wall-to-wall — and free — Wi-Fi service was not only demanded but expected. “High-speed Internet is almost like air to Millennials,” he added, with most considering it as essential as beds and towels. Hotel owners are also installing power consoles in rooms and public areas so that charging all those cellphones and laptops is easy and accessible. “Gen Y’ers don’t want to have to unplug lamps or crawl under the bed to get their laptops and P.D.A.’s plugged in,” Ms. Klauda said....When young travelers have a problem at a hotel, they are less inclined to complain to the hotel manager, as their predecessors generally do; they go online and post on Twitter about it.

  • At last weeks Black Hat Europe security conference, Chris Wysopal, security researcher and chief technology officer of Veracode, presented research that said U.S. federal government created software as less secure than their private sector counterparts.

  • Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, is teaching a computer science course at Stanford this spring, even though he has previously called university education a waste of time.

  • The United States is coordinating with the European Union in an investigation of the pricing practices of e-book publishers and Apple, and the E.U. is also open to a settlement. The president of the Author's Guild criticized the investigation.

  • International Headlines

  • Sri Lanka's Defence Ministry has ordered news outlets to receive prior approval befor sending out mobile phone alerts about the military or police.

  • Edits and deletions to the "lobbying" section of the Wikipedia page for German carmaker Daimler have raised eyebrows because they were conducted by a user from a Daimler IP address. A Daimler spokesperson said that any changes had been done independently by employees.

    But research conducted by SPIEGEL ONLINE reveals that the Stuttgart-based company has a history of editing unflattering information on Wikipedia. Someone using the IP address, which also belongs to Daimler, made a total of 24 changes to the Wikipedia article on Daimler back in 2005 and 2006. Some of the edits targeted information relating to the firm's relationship with the Nazi regime. The user erased passages relating that, during World War II, "prisoners of war and slave laborers worked at a facility" built by Daimler-Benz in Ludwigsfelde, classified at the time as a "model National Socialist company," building aircraft engines.

  • Google is partnering with Historypin to create an interactive online gallery of the life of Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.

  • The 23-year old college student who ran the linking site TVShack will be extradited from the UK to America over copyright infringement charges.

  • Demand for a British-designed credit card-sized computer called Raspberry Pi particularly aimed at children to encourage their interest in programming has been unexpectedly high.

  • As part of a boycott and a protest in a response to high gas prices in Colombia, Twitter users have been using the hashtag #notanqueo meaning "I won't fill up."

  • India is working on creating an online lab network to allow students to conduct science experiments remotely.

  • In India, the next hearing in the criminal case against Google, Facebook, and other sites has been scheduled for May 23rd. The case stems from the Indian information-technology law and the policing of content available on the site.

  • On the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, users expressed some frustration with the official explanations for the collapse of a section of a high-speed rail line. The New York Times examined the language many Chinese Internet users use as a "subversive lexicon" to escape censorship, for example:

    Getting soy sauce. “A humorous way for netizens to distance themselves from a sensitive or political topic.” The etymology derives from an on-the-street TV interview about a celebrity scandal. A man interviewed at random, according to China Digital Times, issues a profanity and says he has no connection to the matter, proclaiming, “I was just out buying some soy sauce.”

With Raphael Majma and Micah L. Sifry

This post has been corrected.