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First POST: The 113th Congress

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 3 2013

  • Biting the hand that feeds: Trade groups representing Google, Microsoft and Facebook applaud the inclusion of an R&D tax credit extension in the fiscal cliff deal, according to The Hill. Silicon Valley isn't the only sector to cash in on the fiscal cliff deal.

    Pandodaily's Sarah Lacy has ripped into Congress for its handling of the fiscal cliff debacle, taking the opportunity to reiterate Silicon Valley's disdain for Capitol Hill.

    "Tech pubs haven’t covered this much– unlike every other media outlet on the planet– so I’m no expert on what it all means and whether it’ll pass the House of Representatives and all that," she wrote.

    It did pass the House and was signed by the president — by autopen, natch. And it included provisions that make Silicon Valley's more politically aware corners less dubious of the cliff deal, if for equally dubious reasons.

  • Gun nuts: After the Lower Hudson Journal-News published the addresses of Westchester County, N.Y. gun owners in an interactive database, a debate flared up about privacy and data. It's the latest example of the growing disconnect between what people think is private and what has always been public, but only recently searchable. At Reuters, Jack Shafer weighs in:

    Exactly how publishing public-record data constitutes privacy invasion is a topic worthy of a Poynter Institute seminar. By its very definition, the public record is not private. Under New York state law, the information the Journal News obtained from Westchester and Rockland county authorities can be obtained by anybody who asks for it. And even though it will deflate the sails of the boycotters, their protest is futile. No law prevents individuals from making the same pistol permit request from the counties and posting their own maps if Gannett and the Journal News surrender and delete theirs. I’d wager that somebody has already scraped the data from the Journal News site and will repost it if the paper goes wobbly.

  • From the wonky-even-for-you-dept: On The Volokh Conspiracy, David R. Johnson and David G. Post have published a post suggesting that Facebook's recent move to end a mechanism for public comment on its terms of service and privacy policy is a chance to rethink how online terms of service should work.

  • Time Warner Cable will not carry Current TV after was announced that Al Gore's network was purchased by the Qatar-based, Qatar-state-owned Al Jazeera, and its spots on cable networks would be replaced by a new American version of the news network. Yahoo reports that neither Comcast or DirecTV, which also carry Current, have announced plans to drop the network.

  • White House photographer Pete Souza has released a "Year in Photos" photo set on Flickr. (Via Alex Fitzpatrick)

  • We're just now seeing a Dec. 27 op-ed from former special assistant to the president and now Harvard visiting professor Susan Crawford observing that partly due to the way Internet service providers are regulated, Americans pay more money for slower Internet access.

  • Open government guy, former New York State Senate and World Economic Forum staffer, and civic hacker Noel Hidalgo is now at work heading up Code for America's New York office. (No link)

  • What 1.5 million 311 service requests look like.

  • Proponents of the DATA Act, which would create a unified and machine-readable database of all federal spending, are gearing up in hopes of getting on the agenda for the 113th Congress, which convenes today for the first time.

  • East Bay Express carries an optimistic look at civic hacking and its potential for problem-ridden Oakland, Calif.

  • Probably the wrong account:

    Deleted from Rep. Jan Schakowski's (D-Ill.) Twitter account was a link to the "Computer Man" video.

  • Glenn Greenwald thinks Twitter's compliance with French law governing hate speech is a bad idea. Around this time last year, Twitter created a mechanism to deny access to Twitter posts in countries where they might be against the law. It was heralded at the time as a way to balance access to Twitter everywhere with censorship of certain speech — such as hate speech in much of Europe — in particular places.

  • The European Commission has launched an open data portal in public beta.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

GO

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