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First POST: Ironies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 6 2014


  • Lawrence Lessig and his fight against political corruption in America is the subject of a long and positive profile by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker. Best lines: Joi Ito, who says, "He's always fighting the most important fights, but he hasn't won many, and the fights are all still continuing." And Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, asked if he could be one of Lessig's 50 billionaires funding an "atomic bomb" to blow up the campaign finance system: "Absolutely, I can see myself involved. Part of the challenge is the collective-action problem. A group of us have to do it at the same time."

  • How LinkedIn has managed to get a foothold in China. As Paul Mozur and Vindu Goel report for the New York Times, it's succeeded by partnering with two "well-connected Chinese venture capital firms," by censoring local content, and by depriving its Chinese-language users tools for creating or joining groups and for posting long essays.

  • Embrace the irony? When Evan Osnos lived in China, he writes in that Lessig profile, "the Chinese often complained that their government was riddled with corruption, and they asked me if America had similar problems. I usually replied that though our government has its crooks, the naked exchange of favors for money is minimized by the rule of law and a free press. Now I’m not so sure."

  • FireChat and its parent company Open Garden get profiled by Adam Cohen in the New York Times.

  • The "Pretty Easy Privacy" project, currently raising money in Indiegogo, is profiled by David Meyer in GigaOm. They're starting with a plug-in for Outlook and aim to make PGP use more accessible to non-geeks.

  • Australian activists are rallying against a government plan for mandatory data retention that would require internet service providers to track and record users' movements online.

  • Faced with long working hours and low pay, Facebook's bus drivers are trying to unionize, reports Steven Greenhouse for the New York Times.

  • Hundreds of Bluetooth-powered radio transmitters known as "beacons" that can be used to track people's movements and beam ads at their mobile devices have been installed in Manhattan pay phone booths, report Josepth Bernstein and Jeremy Singer-Vine for BuzzFeed. They add that the program was approved by the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications "without any public notice, consultation or approval."

  • Bored at work? Here is your very own BuzzFeed title generator.

  • Check out, which might be the future of news.