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First POST: Messiness

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 8 2014


  • This video of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio doing their best to ignore Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout as she approaches Cuomo during the Labor Day parade is going viral online, reports Adam Sneed of Politico. The Democratic primary in New York is this Tuesday.

  • Commenting on this encounter, Lawrence Lessig calls Cuomo "the Nixon of New York."

  • The Buffalo News interviewed Tim Wu, Teachout's running mate, who is challenging western NY Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, and Wu flunked on his knowledge of the region.

  • Speaking of not knowing anything, here's a video of liberal Democratic NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, campaigning with Hochul in Manhattan, and admitting he doesn't know anything about her backing by the National Rifle Association.

  • Wednesday, September 10 is the Internet Slowdown, a day of protest against the FCC's "fast lane" proposal, organized by Fight for the Future and Demand Progress.

  • Civic techies need a common language to describe and evaluate their work, I write.

  • Speaking of civic tech design, the current controversy over the posting of nude private photos of women celebrities on Reddit has generated this post from Yishan Wong, the site's CEO. Reddit considers itself "not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community" which maximizes the role and responsibility of its members to do the right thing (Reddit's ownership by Conde Nast was not discussed in the post). Wong writes:

    We uphold the ideal of free speech on reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because we believe that you - the user - has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so. When you know something is right, you should choose to do it. But as much as possible, we will not force you to do it.

  • The photos' available on Reddit led to a huge surge in traffic and much internal debate, reports Mashable's Seth Feigerman. A sys admin named Jason Harvey told him, "I had an obvious responsibility to keep the site up and running, but seeing that all of my efforts were due to a huge number of people scrambling to look at stolen private photos didn't sit well with me personally, to say the least. We hit new traffic milestones, ones which I'd be ashamed to share publicly….A lot of members on our team could not understand what we were doing here, why we were continuing to allow ourselves to be party to this flagrant violation of privacy, why we hadn't made a statement regarding what was going on and how on earth we got to this point. It was messy, and continues to be."

  • TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas puts her finger on the "something rotten in the state of social media"--that is, she writes, "Slowly but surely the freedoms that initially drew us into these glittering social spaces are being withdrawn, as barred gates drop into place — limiting our usage options, and controlling and constraining the social content we see. The walled gardens shrink, getting narrower in outlook as the logic of their underlying content-filtering algorithms becomes evident."

  • Gawker's Michelle Dean talks to author Astra Taylor about why she believes the Internet is making us more unequal.

  • Interesting fact: 3 out of 5 top tech companies in America were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

  • How India spies on its citizens.