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First POST: Unfreezing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 28 2014


  • Cory Doctorow explains why the FCC's proposal to allow Internet service providers to charge for "premium" service is like letting the phone company favor one pizza parlor with better phone service, in language you can use to explain net neutrality to your dullest relative.

  • Tech analyst Steve Kamman makes a critical point about the FCC's consideration of a "fast lane" option for Internet service providers: it's all about ratifying artificial scarcity, and if the FCC's new rule is approved, it will create an "obvious incentive … to degrade regular service to force traffic onto their 'premium' lanes."

  • Susan Crawford explains why the future of "fair and equitable Internet access" is in municipal broadband networks.

  • For background, read Bill Bradley's piece on "How mesh networks can bridge the digital divide," in NextCity.

  • The White House review of big data is surfacing concerns about the potential for discrimination in housing and employment that may be arising from new ways of sorting and targeting consumers, Eileen Sullivan of AP reports. The results of the review are expected to be released next week.

  • This professor of sociology hid the fact that she was pregnant from the Internet, and it wasn't easy, reports Matt Petronzio for Mashable.

  • ICYMI: After saying little about the NSA case for most of the ten months, last week former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted whistleblower Edward Snowden for fleeing to Hong Kong and then Russia, claiming that he could have worked under US protections for whistleblowers and asserting that his disclosures have "intentionally or unintentionally…gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups."

  • Didn't Snowcrash foresee this? Cyrus Farivar of ArsTechnica reports on the re-opening of a police substation in a poor part of Menlo Park, CA, just blocks from Facebook's corporate headquarters. The station's renovation, rent and one officer's salary, he says, are being "substantially paid for by Facebook, to the tune of $600,000 over the next two years."

  • Jason Tanz of Wired reports on "How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other." Funny, we thought that was what eBay did. Oh, and Tanz cites public opinion data showing that Americans' trust in each other is still well below what it was fifty years ago.

  • In New York magazine, Kevin Roose rebuts Tanz, saying the rise of "sharing economy" companies is more a result of economic "desperation."

  • The Tea Party Patriots respond to a Washington Post story pointing out how little of the millions it has raised that has gone to Tea Party candidates, while paying its staff and consultants extravagantly, by emailing members:

    In less than five years, we have placed over a quarter of a billion (with a b) email messages directly into the inboxes of conservative Americans. In the mail, we have disseminated over 34.7 million messages into mailboxes of our citizens. Over 1.2 million people have signed online petitions or taken some other activist action from email communications and over 600,000 have signed hard-copy petitions or taken some other step in activism related to our principles.  Since October, we have generated over 3 million calls into congressional offices supporting our issues.

  • The New York Police Department is going to continue experimenting with using social media to improve relations with the public, J. David Goodman reports for the New York Times. He quotes Zachary Tumin, deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives and the co-author of a business book with police commissioner William Bratton as saying, "“This is a very, very big move for this department. It’s about unfreezing it. It’s about encouraging the men and women in command positions to take action and use the discretion of their positions with which they are entrusted.”

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti's charming Instagram habit earns this plaudit from John Della Volpe at Harvard's Institute of Politics: “People are spending billions of dollars giving voters what they don’t want, which are tricky ads. We spend no time giving voters what they do want, which is a truer connection with their government and opportunities to engage.”

  • This interactive music timeline from Google Research will eat at least five minutes of your day.