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First POST: Pressure

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, July 2 2013


  • The Guardian: "Barack Obama has sought to limit the damage from the growing transatlantic espionage row after Germany and France denounced the major snooping activities of US agencies and warned of a possible delay in the launch next week of ambitious free-trade talks between Europe and the US."

    Also: "The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has attempted to head off criticism that he lied to Congress over the extent of government surveillance on American citizens, with a letter to senators in which he apologised for giving "erroneous" information."

    Meanwhile: Leading the Washington Post coverage of Edward Snowden:

    "Fugitive Edward Snowden has withdrawn his request for Russian political asylum, a presidential spokesman said Tuesday, apparently because he was unwilling to go along with President Vladimir Putin’s requirement that he stop any activity damaging to the United States." (Snowden is a "former NSA contractor" in the Guardian's most recent piece.)

    The Snowden affair has revived a rolling argument about who gets to be an "objective" journalist and who is an "advocacy" journalist that your First POST editor really doesn't want to get into. We'll observe instead that competing newspapers have long differentiated themselves by focusing on different aspects of the same story, influenced by the sensibilities and predilections of their editors and publishers. (Who reads like an "objective" journalist and who reads like an "advocacy" journalist can often depend on editors with crusades of their own.) So there are many outlets focusing on different things, the Post advances a Beltway argument while the Guardian questions it sharply, and debate roils along.

Around the web

  • New York Times Dealbook, Nathaniel Popper and Peter Lattman — "Winklevoss Twins Plan First Fund for Bitcoins." Does anyone have a pool going on how long it takes before they say Bitcoin was their idea all along?

  • Boston Review: Terry Winograd has a fascinating interview with Evgeny Morozov. Tearing through the layers of rhetoric that can make Morozov such a frustrating read, Winograd extracts from him this kind of sensible anecdote:

    I am however quite old-fashioned and excessively utopian in that I believe that it wouldn't be such a bad idea for citizens to know what they do and have some basic understand of why it matters—even if we have the option of achieving a better outcome with them doing it without any awareness. Look at gamification: We can now easily design a scheme that will encourage people to engage in climate-friendly behavior without having a shred of comprehension about what they do, why this matters, and what the fuss about climate change is all about. You just award them ‘points’ for soliciting behavior that someone somewhere has deemed environmentally friendly.

  • In Next City, Nick Grossman, an entrepreneur in residence at New York venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, argues that technology is creating more and more room for "informal economy" — that is, outside of formal government regulation and oversight — in Western societies that have spent the last 100 years regulating those economies out of existence.

  • Houston, Tex., is implementing ideas that came out of a hackathon event to put designers, developers and government officials in the same room.

  • Robert Samuelson: "If I could, I would repeal the Internet."

    A sarcastic David Weinberger: "Excellent idea! Really well-argued! In fact, why stop there?"<?p>