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First POST: Intellectuals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 12 2013


  • Josh Levy and Renata Avila of Free Press have penned an eloquent call for "The Decentralized Web," tying together the rise of the handful of web giants that each want to be our all-purpose data holders (and use various forms of walled gardens to pen us in) and the newly exposed national surveillance state. Most interestingly, they offer several moves individuals can take to fight back, including: "Ditch Google and turn to alternative search engines and email providers…Get off Facebook…Learn about encryption and off-the-record chat." Read the whole thing.

  • Don't miss Jillian York's response to Henry Farrell in the new issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. She tackles his recent essay on "The Tech Intellectuals" and presses on a weakness (that he's already admitted) which is how few women get recognized as "tech intellectuals" in the first place.

  • Speaking of which, the Data & Society Research Institute, a new think/do tank in New York City founded by danah boyd, has issued a call for its inaugural class of fellows. The institute is dedicated to addressing social, technical, ethical, legal, and policy issues that are emerging because of data-centric technological development. (Full disclosure: Andrew Rasiej and I are on the advisory board.)

  • So it turns out that the White House vetted the people who got to ask immigration-related questions of Vice President yesterday, at an event hosted by Skype and sponsored by Bing, Politico's Reid Epstein reports. Skype also reached out to some people, like entrepreneur Anil Dash, to solicit their questions.

  • The AP's director of photography, Santiago Lyon, blasts the White House's "draconian restrictions on photojournalists' access to the president" and calls the administration's regular output of its own media "propaganda."

  • The final version of the SEC's Volcker Rule cites "Occupy the SEC" 284 times, writes Cathy O'Neill. But Occupy had no impact, you say.

  • A We the People petition calling on the White House to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act just went over 100,000 signatures, the number required to generate an official response.

  • The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein takes House Speaker John Boehner to task for once again breaking his pledge to post all legislation online 72 hours before a vote, this time the case being the bipartisan budget deal.

  • Adam Green and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the e-activist group he founded with fellow MoveOn veteran Stephanie Taylor five years ago, gets raked over by Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro and Ruby Cramer. The piece pokes at some quirky tactics, but mostly features anonymous quotes from rankled Congressional-staffer types who don't like PCCC's aggressiveness.

  • Goodbye Anonymous: The Huffington Post announced new rules for its millions of commenters: log in through Facebook, log in through your regular Huffington Post account, but either way you have to at least use your first name. The announcement does notes, "If, for whatever reason, you fear posting a comment under your name -- if you are a whistleblower, or fear harassment, or any other reason -- you can apply for the right to comment anonymously." Your name (and Facebook account) is required on that application, however.

  • Responding to Tuesday's story in the New York Times on the rising number of Internet hoaxes getting credulous coverage, Michelle Goldberg reports in The Nation that "Linda Tirado Is Not a Hoax." That is, Tirado, whose eloquent post on Gawker about the mistakes she has made while poor made her Internet famous and slightly rich, didn't hide the fact that she had a middle-class upbringing. So even New York Times stories that aim to set things straight often don't.

  • More voices are calling on the New York City Police Department to open up its crime data in a more vigorous way. On the Reinvent Albany blog, the new crime map is getting panned as something that "as an exercise in open government…is severely lacking…[it] would have turned heads in 2000 or maybe 2005, but is not particularly impressive in 2013."

  • On the Tow Center for Digital Journalism's blog, fellow Alex Howard piles on, and endorses Ingrid Burrington's recent piece here at techPresident on the "ideology of data," which noted that the city's vaunted Compstat crime database is itself subject to human manipulation.