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First POST: Jumping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 12 2014


  • Catching up to our British cousins, the White House announced Monday that it is launching a new U.S. Digital Service, to be led by Mikey Dickerson, a former Google engineer who was critical to overhauling, Nancy Scola reports for the Washington Post. We'll have more background on this later today.

  • One thing that hashtag activism often does right, says James Poniewozik in Time magazine, is media criticism. Case in point: #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

  • It's SharkWeek, and our friends at Upwell, the "big listening/networked campaigning" Team Ocean, tweet (with chart): "Every year, #SharkWeek conversation has nearly doubled…until now. Has #SharkWeek jumped the shark?"

  • On Vice, Lee Fang anatomizes the telecom lobby money behind Politic365, a news site that calls itself the "the premier digital destination for politics and policy related to communities of color" but whose staffers appear to be carrying a lot of water for the anti-net-neutrality camp.

  • Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media is nearly a year old, but as Dean Starkman reports for Columbia Journalism Review, it "is grappling with the same fundamental problems facing other news startups across the spectrum—how to make money and how to be distinctive—and, so far, hasn’t had much progress in finding a solution to either."

  • A Brooklyn judge has ruled that Zephyr Teachout is qualified for the New York State ballot, turning aside an effort by sitting Governor Andrew Cuomo to challenge her residency in the state. Hailing the ruling, the New York Times editorial board lambastes Cuomo for threatening an appeal of the judge's rule, writing: "That is political bullying, and the governor should back off and engage with Ms. Teachout as a serious candidate."

  • August is for soul-searching: That's what Ryan Holiday does on BetaBeat, discussing the fact that online news publishers like Vox and FiveThirtyEight and his own shop are all chasing pageviews (which they know they can get by mentioning sex) rather than serious content. He writes, "When I see the leaderboard on Betabeat during a high traffic day and it’s random stories about whatever, I get that feeling. What is this? What are we doing? I know the other stakeholders do, too. They question the purpose of the vertical altogether. What are we even trying to be here?"

  • Reading a newspaper in print for 15 minutes appears to increase a young person's sense of civic responsibility, while doing so online appears to decrease it, researchers at Gwynedd-Mercy University have found. Conversely, online news readers felt a greater ability to dissent than print readers--perhaps an effect of being exposed to open comment threads on articles online.

  • New, from our Miranda Neubauer: How the Open Source Election Technology Foundation is remaking the voter experience. Beyond supplying the tech behind online voter registration tools used by Rock the Vote and others, OSET is whipping up a suite of time-saving tools, including one that you might call "Waze for voting."

  • Related: The OpenElections blog interviews the Pew Charitable Trusts' Jared Marcotte, who manages its Voting Information Project work and related election technology initiatives.

  • Could the notification app "Yo" be bigger than Twitter? Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal thinks so, and he makes a plausible case.

  • HereHere NYC is a Microsoft Research project that makes weekly cartoons for city neighborhoods based on public 311 data. And it's also really cute.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is keeping its eye on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.