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First POST: Counting

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 9 2013


  • On the front page of the Washington Post: the Obama administration was "repeatedly warned" by "major insurers, state health-care officials and Democratic allies" that "had significant problems," but the White House chose to proceed with its October 1 launch. David Brailer, who was HHS's national coordinator for health information technology in 2006, when the Medicare drug benefit was rolled out, said that was initially built to handle half as many visitors as the Medicare enrollment site. Building a web site for just 60,000 people at a time, he told the Post, “is weird. The math just doesn’t add up,” he said.

  • The Verge's Adrianne Jeffries blames the launch mess on the government contractors that divvied up the $93.7 million contract to build the exchanges, along with other government rules "that made state-of-the-art, Silicon valley-style development impossible for this scale of government contract." Featured in her story is Alex Howard, now a fellow at Harvard's Ash Center for Democratic Governance, who says, "The firms that typically get contracts are the firms that are good at getting contracts, not typically good at executing them."

  • California's health exchange enrolled more than 16,000 people and 430 small businesses in its first week of operation, the state's health commissioner announced. The state's health exchange site received nearly one million visits during that week.

  • In general, people going to individual state health exchanges are having a better experience than at Washington state says that more than 9,400 people had signed up for coverage last week, reports The New York Times. New York reported more than 40,000 sign-ups.

In other news around the web:

  •, the new advocacy organization for the national grass-roots tech community, has launched and its founder Gina Cooper explains in an oped for techPresident why you should take its Tech Community Survey.

  • NYC Mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio did his first Reddit AMA yesterday, covering everything from Airbnb to Occupy to his son's famous Afro.

  • Sadly for White House adviser and frequent Twitterer Dan Pheiffer, the letter "n" is next to the letter "b" on the keyboard.

  • NYTimes tech columnist Nick Bilton's forthcoming book "Hatching Twitter" is excerpted in next Sunday's Times Magazine. Bilton details the battles among the company's founders Evan Williams, Noah Glass and Jack Dorsey, and along the way draws a larger and compelling portrait of the cut-throat culture of Silicon Valley "entrepreneurs."

  • Is this what journalism will look like in the future? The Jersey Shore Hurricane News, an online upstart based solely on Facebook with more than 200,000 followers, gets profiled by the NiemanLab.

  • The New York Times editorial page is expanding its opinion section to cover more international news, announcing a diverse slate of monthly contributors from around the globe.

  • Speaking of the New York Times editorial page, Mercatus Center research fellow Eli Dourado is on it today with an oped suggesting that the way to rebuild a trustworthy Internet in the wake of the Snowden NSA revelations is to make the hardware that runs the network open-source and audible.

  • Bulk collection of everyone's private metadata has "never made more than a marginal contribution to securing Americans from terrorism," Harvard Law professor Yochai Benkler writes in the Guardian. His conclusion: "If the NSA cannot show real, measurable evidence of its effectiveness, evidence that doesn't collapse as soon as it is examined and isn't a vague appeal to amorphous, measurement-free "peace of mind", its bulk collection program has to go."

    Mom, please don't read the next item. Just skip this one, ok?

  • The crazy people at Cultivated Wit (the comedic design shop founded by Baratunde Thurston) have launched, highlighting such things as the fact that hundreds of people are getting salmonella because much of the Centers for Disease Control staff has been furloughed. (Even more amazing, no one had registered the domain "fuckyoucongress" before October 3, 2013)

    OK, Mom, you can keep reading.

  • Speaking of people unhappy with Congress, this error message is making its way around the web:

  • Conservative truckers are threatening the snarl traffic around the Beltway tomorrow. They're using Facebook to organize themselves. The NSA and FBI are expressing appreciation for that. (Not really, but who knows?)

  • AlJazeera is working on launching a new online channel aimed at engaging a younger generation. "They share, like, Tweet, comment, interact and forward," says its director of innovation, Moeed Ahmad. "To reach them requires a fresh approach."

  • Valleywag looks at the lack of diversity on the boards of the biggest tech companies.