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First POST: Spirit Guide

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 13 2013

Spirit Guide

  • Forrester Research says that the recent NSA disclosures "may reduce US technology sales overseas by as much as $180 billion," due to rising mistrust that American companies may be selling compromised products, Bloomberg reports. Matthew Prince, the CEO of CloudFlare, tells the Washington Post that his company, a web security firm, "is getting 50 to 100 calls per day from customers demanding more answers about the firm's involvement" with the NSA, but his inability to say anything about that is "seriously hurting his business."

  • The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says "I think it's clear that some of the conversation this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen," regarding Edward Snowden's leaks. But he decried journalists, who "got to the deepest darkest place they can and make the most conspiratorial case for the what intelligence community is doing."

  • Harvard professor Yochai Benkler writes in the Guardian that "The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. The American body politic is suffering a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body."

  • The Web We Want program is offering minigrants for "action research on surveillance to map the policies, laws and practices of your country and benchmark them against the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance."

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee moved a bill setting up a special journalist shield yesterday, but not without some serious mischief-making when it came to defining who could be a journalist covered by the proposed law. Mike Masnick of Techdirt zeroes in on Senator Chuck Schumer, who explicitly said the bill would "distinguish journalists from those who shouldn't be protected, WikiLeaks and all those." And Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested that no 17-year-old drop-out with a blog should be covered. ZOMG!

  • Senator Ed Markey is pushing for more details from cellphone companies on the data they share with the government, and how often federal officials have prohibited recipients of their requests from sharing the details.

In other news around the web

  • New York Magazine's Steve Freiss reports that after dismissing the Obama campaigns relentless emphasis on data-driven campaigning, Republican operatives have changed their tune. "At the Republican National Committee annual meetings in Boston last month," he writes, "copies of [Sasha Issenberg's] The Victory Lab were ubiquitous, toted around by GOP strategists and aides in the midst of midterm campaign prep." Now, he says, "they seem to have embraced Issenberg as a spirit guide." (h/t @sissenberg)

  • Michael Slaby, the chief integration and innovation officer of Obama 2012 and the campaign's CTO in 2008, has written an interesting article for the New Republic based on his work as a Shorenstein Fellow last spring at the Harvard Kennedy School, entitled "The Obama Campaign Helped Create a New Map of Understanding. Here's How Others Can Use it." it's adorned by sentences like:

    • "The ubiquity of social platforms and the behaviors they have made habitual play an essential role in moving us beyond a world where fragmentation is the defining characteristic of media and communications."
    • "Viewing the world as graph, we no longer fit fixed roles in a hierarchy of media where publishers use media channels controlled by companies to reach consumers."
    • "All nodes must embrace the uniqueness of each relationship with each other node."

    I believe this is Slaby's way of keeping the Republicans currently reading Sasha Issenberg's book from figuring out what to do next.

  • The wag behind @huffpospoilers, who has unpacked nearly 4,000 overstated Huffington Post headlines, writes an open letter to Arianna Huffington about his frustration with "link-bait."

  • The e-magazine Tea Leaf Nation has been acquired by Foreign Policy Group. Founded in 2011, Tea Leaf Nation specializes in scouring Chinese social media to detect emerging trends and spot news stories.

  • Zach Edwards, the CEO of, asks "What can the political advocacy community learn from the open government community?" His answer begins: "Open data doesn’t necessarily create an open government, but an open government can’t exist without open data. Similarly, open political data doesn’t necessarily mean an open political community, but you can’t have an open political community without open political data."

  • NASA set aside cheap airplane fuel for Google's Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and their fleet of seven jets and two helicopters. The special arrangement was to support scientific flights helping NASA measure greenhouse gases, but has been stopped amid concerns that it was used for non-government flights, reports the Wall Street Journal.

  • The old money of San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood isn't thrilled about the new tech zillionaires moving in next door, according to Vanity Fair.