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First POST: Correlations

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 4 2015


  • This is civic tech: In Chicago, open government data tracking the work of city snow plows, scraped and displayed on, an app made by the Open City civic hacker group, shows that a relatively quiet dead-end street recently got a lot of attention from snow-removal crews. As Dan Mihalopoulos reports for the Chicago Sun-Times, the street, which was plowed five times during and after last weekend's winter storm is where City Alderman Ed Burke, the council's senior and most powerful member, lives. A few blocks away, streets were still unplowed.

  • Privacy reformers are not very impressed by the changes President Obama is making in the NSA's current surveillance programs, report Dan Roberts and Dominic Rushe for The Guardian.

  • CNN's Chris Moody takes a close look at Twitter's Washington operation, which focuses on helping politicians and public officials learn how to best use the communications platform. Says Adam Sharp, Twitter's head of news and @gov: "The best members of Congress who use Twitter are the ones who are using it themselves and using it in an authentic way. It's not something to be afraid of. Opening this new gateway for that direct one-on-one communication gateway with constituents is something we haven't had in a long time."

  • In the UK, Sophie Curtis reports for The Telegraph that the "government is making over 13,000 miles of publicly-owned digital infrastructure available to help improve access to high-speed broadband in areas of the country that are currently underserved" as part of an effort to reduce the UK's digital divide.

  • Fusion has a three-part "Tech Behind Bars" series, about the intersection of the correctional system and digital culture. This first story, by Kevin Roose and Pendarvis Harshaw, is primarily about prisoners' illegal cell phone use and the various ways prisons have tried to curb it. It's an excellent overview, but it's a shame they did not or could not get a prisoner to talk about their experience, even anonymously.

  • Amelia Greenhall, co-founder of Model View Culture and executive director of the Double Union women's hacker/maker space in San Francisco, skewers Stanford professor Vivek Wadhwa for being a fake ally for women in tech.

  • ProPublica's Ryann Grochowski Jones pokes holes in Uber's recent report that the service has reduced the number of drunk driving accidents. Turns out even Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which worked with Uber on the report, has backed on the claim, saying that the relationship between Uber use and lowered drunk driving is "purely correlational."

  • The Ford Foundation is requiring all grant-funded projects and research to be released publicly using Creative Commons licensing allowing others to use the material free of charge and without requesting permission, as long as credit is attributed.

(with Jessica McKenzie)