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First POST: Civics Lessons

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, May 5 2014

Civics Lessons

  • Code for America's director of organizing (and friend of PDM) Catherine Bracy blogs about an important shift in CfA's focus, from creating capacity inside City hall to "organizing the community to participate…especially those who have traditionally been left out of the public decision-making process." In sum, she says, "civic tech doesn't work unless it works for everyone."

  • Speaking of civic tech: Our Eilis O'Neill reports on the PoplusCon unconference that just concluded in Santiago, Chile. Its theme: "lowering the tech barriers for civic startups" worldwide.

  • Meanwhile, back in the land of self-interest: In Politico, Tony Romm profiles Netflix's uphill battle for influence in Washington, DC for Politico, complete with this revealing quote from a former company lobbyist: "Here they are jumping in, making a big stink in DC about net neutrality and Comcast, [but they] don't really have a team to match that voice in Washington if they think they're going to get something done." Netflix has two lobbyists in its employ in Washington, compared to more than 100 for Comcast.

  • The normally placid race for California Secretary of State may turn on issues like updating the state's database for tracking campaign money, reports Fenit Nirappil for the Associated Press.

  • Doug Henwood, the author of the well-regarded book Wall Street, takes a close look at the enthusiasm for Bitcoin among libertarians and leftists alike and finds it wanting. Reminding us of the failure of competing private bank currencies in 1800s US, he writes in The Nation:

    Bitcoin could never establish itself as a currency in any serious way without regulation and some sort of insurance scheme, because investors and consumers would not trust substantial savings to it. But were Bitcoin to legitimate itself through regulation and become a serious money, it’s impossible to imagine that states would tolerate it for long. It would be simple to outlaw cryptocurrencies, enforcing a ban at the point of conversion from state money to cryptomoney without attempting to crack the coin’s infinitely complicated algorithm.

  • EFF has launched a new extension for the Chrome browser which blocks unscrupulous advertising trackers, called Privacy Badger.

  • Will Oremus explains for Slate readers why Twitter isn't dead at all.

  • In the Wall Street Journal, Joe Parkinson, Sam Schechner and Emre Peker round up all the ways that Turkey has become "one of the world's most determined Internet censors."