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First POST: Tools

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 28 2014

Tools

  • The new installment of the Knight News Challenge is focused on strengthening the free and open Internet. $2.75 million will go to those with a good enough idea--the deadline for the first round of applications is March 18.

  • David Meyer reports for Gigaom on the rise of consumer-friendly privacy tools like Mailpile.

  • Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation explains why they're backing open source encryption tools. (Maybe Knight can send them a check?)

  • WTF? The Houston City Attorney has issued a cease and desist order against Uber, demanding that it stop "transmitting or aiding in the transmission of form e-mails to City officials." He adds, "the excessive number of e-mails has gone unabated, to the point that it has become harassing in nature and arguably unlawful." Needless to say, Uber isn't backing down. An editorial in the Houston Chronicle adds context and support.

  • Valleywag's Nitasha Tiku reports on how an enterprising freelance engineer took advantage of Google Maps' loose verification system to post fake numbers for the FBI and Secret Service, and then recorded real service calls to those agencies. He says he acted after repeated efforts to get Google to fix those flaws were ignored.

  • A group protesting the Citizens United ruling managed to secretly videotape their protest from inside the Supreme Court, where cameras are strictly not allowed, Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports.

  • A homeless person helping explain the value of a startup called HandUp moves an audience of techies to tears at the Launch conference.

  • In the movie "Her," the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix, works at a fictional company that writes personalized letters on behalf of busy people, sometimes even writing both sides of an ongoing relationship. In Wired, Evan Selinger profiles BroApp, a "clever relationship wingman" tool that sends "automated daily text messages" and promises "seamless relationship outsourcing." Selinger notes the app might be a parody, but it's awfully close to where things are going, he argues.

  • Fresh: Our Miranda Neubauer reportson the challenge of getting New York City's community boards to modernize their use of tech, and the ongoing work of local Code for America brigade BetaNYC.

  • Alec Ross reflects on Ukraine's future for CNN.com, noting that it is the top outsourcing destination in the region for information-technology services, but mourning that corruption and authoritarianism are stymying the country's nascent civic tech sector.

  • Leading Russian democracy activist and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny has been placed under house arrest for two months and forbidden from using the Internet or talking to the media.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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