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First POST: Done In By Data

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, January 10 2014

Done In By Data

  • Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation skewers the chair and co-chair of the House Intelligence Committee for putting out a "fact-free" press release yesterday claiming that Edward Snowden's leaks "are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops." Says Timm, "We’ve seen this same scene over and over again in the past decade, and the results are always the same: the government serially exaggerates damage to national security in an attempt to make sure newsworthy stories are not published or to vilify whistleblowers."

  • National Journal's Dustin Volz reports on a meeting President Obama had yesterday with lawmakers to discuss possible legislative reforms of the NSA.

  • The first American phone company to issue a transparency report describing how often government authorities requested user data wasn't AT&T or Verizon Brian Fung reports for the Washington Post; it was progressive Credo Mobile.

  • The Harvard Business Review's Justin Fox has a fascinating interview with Fred Turner, the author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture, on "How Silicon Valley Became the Man." One snippet:

    Google treats its engineers extremely well, offers extremely flexible work spaces, has built essentially a culture of collaboration and creativity that looks very communal and very wonderful, even as around those engineers it has cafeteria workers who are making something very close to minimum wage, and often lack the ability to get proper health insurance. That’s the kind of old communal mindset right there, where you bring together a kind of elite, give them a shared mindset, all the resources they need to live in that mindset, and yet surround them with folks who are relatively impoverished, often racially different, certainly members of a different class. In that sense, the communes were already The Man. And we’ve inherited their legacy.

  • Disillusionist Evgeny Morozov has a new essay in the New Yorker that presses, with his usual style, on the contradictions in tech's latest cultural phenomenon, the "Maker" movement.

  • Bill Davidow explains in the Atlantic how Moore's Law has made mass surveillance cheap and easy.

  • Nancy Scola notes that Chris Christie was done in by data (or the lack thereof); that is, the non-existent "traffic study" that was the supposed excuse for the four-day snarl of traffic in Fort Lee was the thread that unraveled his aides' conspiracy.

  • Maya Wiley reports for The Nation on the success of Brooklyn's Red Hook Initiative's wi-fi mesh network, and argues that the city's new Mayor Bill de Blasio should make affordable high-speed Internet access a top priority in his efforts to reduce inequality city-wide.

  • Hitler's Mein Kampf was one of the most downloaded e-books of 2013 on iTunes.

  • The Chinese Communist Party has released an online game called "Beat Corruption."

News Briefs

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Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

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In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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