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First POST: Tony Meow Now

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 22 2014

Tony Meow Now

  • The Upshot, the New York Times' new data-driven news vertical, has launched. Most interesting, from editor David Leonhardt's introductory note:

    Perhaps most important, we want The Upshot to feel like a collaboration between journalists and readers. We will often publish the details behind our reporting — such as the data for our inequality project or the computer code for our Senate forecasting model — and we hope that readers will find angles we did not. We also want to get story assignments from you: Tell us what data you think deserves exploration. Tell us which parts of the news you do not understand as well as you’d like.

  • Dan Gillmor, the first mainstream journalist to blog, who was way ahead of his time in saying "My readers know more than I do," should take a victory lap. The Times never hired him, but they have internalized his best idea.

  • Staff working for Australia's Prime Minister and Cabinet have apparently spent a fair amount of time discussing a web plug-in called "Tony Meow Now" that replaces pictures of Prime Minister Tony Abbott with cute kittens. The developer Dan Nolan and Ben Taylor filed a FOI request to get any internal correspondence related to their plug-in, and now the government wants them to pay $720 in fees to get 137 pages of internal correspondence. Says Nolan, ‘I don’t think there’s going to be any high-level stuff ... but it would be really interesting to see how a government department reacts to these weird new kinds of technology and culture jamming stuff, which previously they wouldn’t have had to deal with.’’ (h/t Mark Pesce)

  • Felix Salmon gets at the existential truth of Silicon Valley start-up life: it's a miserable lottery with very few winners and many self-exploiting failures. And yet, like past gold rushes, it is warping our culture.

  • Are they using gold-plated email? The Department of Health and Human Services pays $146.64 per month per user for email, a charge that "covers connectivity, storage, and other email services," and is independent of how many emails employees send or receive," the GAO reports in a footnote in a memo explaining the department's efforts to solicit support for the Enroll America nonprofit.

  • Tin Geber looks at whether apps can help fight sexual harassment, for us at WeGov.

  • Enter the dronie.

  • CrowdRise, the crowdfunding platform for nonprofit causes, is getting a new round of $23 million in investment, led by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures.

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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