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First POST: Stunts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 8 2014


  • USAID spokesman Matt Herrick denies that the ZunZeneo mobile-messaging project was "covert," says that the GAO felly vetted it, and also says the agency's role was not hidden from potential CEO candidates for its front group. In addition, he says the AP's claim that USAID hoped to spur the formation of anti-government "smart mobs" were only "case study research and brainstorming notes," not an official goal of the project.

  • Cuban officials say that ZunZeneo was not the only tech-powered project aimed at "subverting" its government, according to Marc Frank of Reuters. They also pointed to a program, Martinoticias, that tried to use social media to get around Cuba's jamming of US radio and TV signals but spamming cellphone users.

  • Narendra Modi's campaign to be India's next prime minister is "borrowing heavily" from Barack Obama's use of data, Harinder Baweja reports for the Hindustan Times.

  • The Open Technology Institute's policy director Kevin Bankston is urging President Obama's big data review to include "internet surveillance" conducted by the NSA as the biggest big data issue to address.

  • Operating under the Chatham House Rule, which prevents direct quotation, Stephen Buckley reports for Poynter about a day he spent with a dozen media gurus brainstorming with Pierre Omidyar about his vision for First Look Media. His takeaways: Omidyar "and his team haven't figured out their focus" and they haven't resolved how to balance the benefits of hiring well-known individual journalists with building a larger brand. They're also trying to avoid being just a "problem-pointing" site and want to "provoke intelligent discourse that gives their audiences options for actually solving the problems" their investigative stars surface.

  • Cryptome publishes a decrypted email that it claims is from Jesselyn Radack, one of Edward Snowden's lawyers, to Glenn Greenwald, that asks if her client will be making a "surprise appearance" at this Friday's Polk Awards. (It's an open question whether Greenwald will appear in person, but Raddack's alleged email implies he will be there in person.

  • OKCupid's co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan once donated to an anti-gay congressional candidate (Rep. Chris Cannon, in 2004). This leads Uncrunched's Michael Arrington to call OKCupid's recent blast against Mozilla for elevating Brendan Eich to its CEO "a PR stunt…nothing but a PR stunt."

  • Nick Troiano, a 25-year-old independent candidate for Congress in PA's 10th district, cites Nicco Mele's book "The End of Big" as inspiration, particular his discussion of government as a platform.

  • Boston's new Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order Monday night opening up the city's data, BetaBoston's Dennis Keohane reports.

  • A new report from the Harvard Kennedy School's Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management takes a close look at how the Boston Police Department made effective use of its social media presence on Twitter during the Boston Marathon crisis.

  • Waldo Jacquith, the US director of the London-based Open Data Institute, is doing an "ask me anything" session on GitHub.

  • Philadelphia's first chief data officer Mark Headd is joining civic tech provider Accela as its new technology evangelist, Jason Shueh reports for Government Technology magazine.

  • San Francisco is cracking down on Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term rentals.

  • In Crain's New York, Matthew Flam looks at the prospects of NYC using its underground conduit system--built for telephone lines more than 100 years ago--to run more fiber to deliver more affordable broadband.