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First POST: Finding Nemo

BY Nick Judd | Friday, February 8 2013

The End of Hyperlocal?

  • NBC has shuttered EveryBlock for good. The site was a prolific aggregator of local information, bringing together government data, news reports and forum posts about almost any neighborhood in the nation. Its founder, Adrian Holovaty, left in August — long after it was acquired by MSNBC.

    EveryBlock was founded with the help of a $1.1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and another project, OpenBlock, turned the code open-source with another infusion of Knight money.

    Both projects are now defunct. In a blog post yesterday, OpenBlock maintainers OpenPlans reveal that they are working on a project that may be a successor to the now-shuttered hyperlocal aggregator.

    NBC Universal Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Vivian Schiller told us in an email: "Hyperlocal is not part of our focus for the future."

    A commenter twists the knife:

    ... [T]his closure underscores the very, very sad reality of what journalism has become - a profit venture for tech entrepreneurs' that is sucking up capital, grants, and market share only to be jettisoned when it is not profitable enough.

    How many millions of dollars were spent on this failed project so a few people could monkey with code while journalists making $30,000 a year were laid off by the hundreds? And how much of that money did these guys just pocket and walk away with?

Finding Nemo

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a new app that asks users to identify what kind of precipitation is coming down where.

Republican data plans

  • Republicans knocked on doors 14.5 million times in 2012 to support Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions and the broader GOP cause, according to the Republican National Committee, but it just wasn't enough. Data-driven decision making and better technology management are part of the Republican Party's plans for renewal — and techPresident has a look behind the scenes.

Around the web

  • Joe Green is out at NationBuilder, and moving on to Andreesen Horowitz.

  • Former Tea Party organizer Mark Meckler writes that open government offers the promise of "self-governance."

  • We've avoided talking about MOOCs — massively open online courses — for a long time now. But a piece in The Awl by Clay Shirky, which does more to question the politics of access to education now and to gesture vaguely at the promise of some better and more equitable Internet future than it does to champion the MOOC as-is, has a lot of Internet-and-society thinkers aflutter.

  • BBC reports that kids as young as 11 are using "malicious code" to acquire ill-gotten virtual currency in online games, which we're noting mostly to pour cold water on the idea that this is in any way news. "Script kiddie" is a term dating back at least as far as the 1990s used to demean any malicious actor who uses someone else's code, or some other simple and poorly written software, for their own ends. Why kiddie? Because it was kids who were doing this then, and it's kids who are doing this now, even if there were fewer actual dollars involved back in the day.

  • ICYMI: Betabeat editor Nitasha Tiku's scathing, spot-on essay on race in the tech industry and the tech press.

  • A petition asking the U.S. to intervene in the case of a Russian activist believed to have committed suicide in a Dutch prison is the first to pass We the People's new 100,000-signature threshold.

  • A hacker has writes that with Knight's next grantmaking challenge, focused on open government, it should support projects for which the government is the client, not citizens.

  • You know what's lame? Having to pay money to electronically access records your tax dollars already paid for.

  • UN Dispatch anoints "The @CoryBooker of Uganda."

  • Here's an idea: Look at the technology stack of newsrooms.

  • A scalp for Politwoops: a spokesman for Rep. Raul Labrador lost his job over an ill-advised tweet in response to a racy Super Bowl commercial about the sitcom "Broke Girls." How you "likey" them now, Phil Hardy?

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

monday >

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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