You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Step Right Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 18 2013

Step Right Up

  • Coming soon: "AskThem," a version of "We The People" (the White House's e-petition portal), but for every elected official in America, as well as any verified Twitter account. It's from the veteran civic hackers at the Participatory Politics Foundation. (Full disclosure: Yours truly is on the AskThem advisory council, along with Zephyr Teachout, Nick Grossman, Tiffiniy Cheng, Nicco Mele and Tom Steinberg). Sign up here to be notified when it launches.

  • The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has just unveiled a gorgeous new portal into the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. It's a data-rich view into the US mortgage market, built on top of nearly 19 million mortgage records from more than 7000 financial institutions. And soon: easy-to-use tools for filtering those records, and an API for researchers and coders.

  • Wanna get your hands on the Indiana Republican Party's "Red Meat List"? No, it's not a list of BBQ joints; it's the state GOP's master fundraising list, filled with "information for thousands of Republicans from grassroots supporters and precinct committee leaders to top-dollar lobbyists and donors." And, reports the AP, it's all public record, since former school Superintendent Tony Bennett's office put them on Department of Education servers.

  • Former Star Trek star and web icon George Takei is going to anchor a weekly web series for the AARP teaching seniors about the web and new tech trends. One of the subjects he's planning to cover is the "sharing economy." "The idea appeals to me," he told the Washington Post. "We're overconsuming." Most of Star Trek's original fan base are now qualified to be AARP members. OUCH!

In other news around the web:

  • President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has decided to cancel an October trip to the United States, state dinner and all, because her government was not satisfied with President Obama's explanation of the NSA's spying on her and other Brazilians. (h/t Glenn Greenwald)

  • The NSA's international spying operation, highlighting the 29 countries that have been identified as targets, in one handy map.

  • The secret court overseeing the NSA's surveillance programs has released a recent ruling explaining why it continues to find the collection of Americans' phone records constitutional. Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU responded, "the opinion only confirms the folly of entrusting privacy rights to a court that hears argument only from the government."

  • Brain Fung explains how Chattanooga, home of the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" gigabit-per-second fiber optic network, beat out Google in delivering high speed municipal broadband to its citizens.

  • A fandom is is a subculture of fans that share a common interest. Ari Rabin-Havt explains how the Harry Potter fandom, known as the Harry Potter Alliance, has grown into a network of 140 chapters and 100,000 activists who are engaged in a multiyear battle with Warner Brothers.

  • David Callahan offers "Seven Ways Occupy Changed America--and Is Still Changing It," on the second anniversary of the movement's birth.

  • "Anger is more viral than joy." Is that really a discovery about online behavior? Apparently a new study of Weibo users in China that used emoticons to characterize 70 million micro-messages, discovered this obvious fact.