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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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