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First POST: Broken Heroes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, January 9 2014

Broken Heroes

  • The Chris Christie #Bridgegate controversy has its own Twitter meme: #ChristieSpringsteenLyrics. Examples:

    "Traffic in NJ heavy due to highways jammed with heroes on last chance power drives." @EnriqueOther

    "The highway's jammed with broken heroes and orange cones. There goes my last chance power drive." @MrMediaTraining

    "Hey Little Girl is Your Daddy Home Is He Stuck in Traffic Leaving you All Alone." @coryharris

  • Mother Jones's David Corn wins the thread with "For his presser, does Christie have a Brilliant Disguise. Or will he be Dancing in the Dark and headed for a Downbound Train?"

  • Cory Doctorow fears "We are Huxleying ourselves into the full Orwell," and that "2014 is the year we lose the Web" due to the W3C's successful push for digital rights management in all web browsers. In plain English, what that means is the content industry's desire to own and control how people use technology to prevent piracy will trump users' autonomy and ability to judge for themselves, through transparent code, whether the tools they are using are safe.

  • Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures, writes that "Keeping the Internet Open in 2014" is an "All Hands on Deck" level problem, thanks not just to the W3C's DRM moves, but also the NSA's surveillance scandal, the rise of internet-filtering in places like the UK, and the moves by big telcos to gut net neutrality.

  • The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has voted to ask Edward Snowden to testify, via video conference, for the committee's investigation of US surveillance of European officials and citizens.

  • America Rising, a Republican opposition research outfit, is spending millions this year to build a Hillary Clinton video archive, Jon Ward reports for the Huffington Post.

  • Felix Salmon explains in Wired why data quants are winning across all sorts of societal sectors from baseball to politics to surveillance, but then points out that "what happens after the quants win is not always the data-driven paradise that they and their boosters expected. The more a field is run by a system, the more that system creates incentives for everyone (employees, customers, competitors) to change their behavior in perverse ways—providing more of whatever the system is designed to measure and produce, whether that actually creates any value or not."

  • Harvard professor Edward Glaeser lauds the city's office of New Urban Mechanics on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe and urges its new mayor to keep it going under his new administration, arguing that unlike the NSA's spying, which "increases the power that government holds over private citizens," NUM increases "the influence that citizens hold over the government." If only NUM had a fraction of the NSA's budget!

  • The "most Upworthy topics of 2013" were: Standards of Beauty, Body Image, Gender Inequality and Cancer. Lots of interesting data in the interactive chart that goes with Upworthy's report. Am I wrong to point out that the success of the top "Standards of Beauty" post had something to do with the photo of the scantily clad woman that promoted it?

  • Pay-offs for civic participation help, writes Nancy Scola in Next City.

  • Technology is helping power an artistic flowering in Africa, one that sometimes has a strong political tinge, reports The New York Times' Nicholas Kulish.

  • Demand Progress is accepting nominations for the Aaron Swartz Memorial Award.