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First POST: Hot Spots

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 23 2014

Hot Spots

  • At Tsinghua University in Beijing, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did a half-hour public Q&A in Mandarin, the language of his wife Priscilla Chan, which he has been studying. He noted that Facebook, which is banned in China, is working closely with Chinese companies to reach global audiences through its advertising platform. Noting how relaxed Zuckerberg was speaking in Mandarin, tech writer Steven Johnson tweeted, "I think this will turn out to be one of those threshold moments we talk about 20 years later."

  • Neelie Kroes, the departing EU digital commissioner, has given a parting speech warning that "analogue Europe" is holding back "digital Europe" with its fears, reports Mike Masnick of TechDirt.

  • Johana Bhulyan is sticking to the Uber labor beat, reporting for BuzzFeed on the latest strike efforts by Uber drivers in New York and London, and protests in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer has written a book about the early Diaspora project, which took Kickstarter by storm with its goal of creating a more user-centric decentralized social network to replace Facebook: here's his Reddit AMA about what he learned. As he notes, "Diaspora never failed. It's a work in progress." (According to one estimate, it has more than 1.1 million users, though only a fraction of those are currently active.)

  • Speaking of decentralization: Here's a list of 21 technologies, mostly in energy and agriculture, that can power a modern life off the industrial grid.

  • Why did women stop majoring in computer science starting in the mid-1908s, after a long period when the number of women studying in the field was rising faster than men? NPR's Planet Money reports Steve Henn has an intriguing explanation: When the early personal computers started showing up in people's homes, they were "marketed almost entirely to men and boys" and the "idea that computers are for boys became a narrative."

  • Forty percent of American internet users have experiences some form of online harassment, with the highest proportion (70%) among young adults, a new survey from Pew Internet shows. One in four young women between 18 and 24 have experienced the worst form of harassment--being stalked online or sexually harassed.

  • Digital marketer Charlie Treadwell shares some secrets into how social media listeners at Symantec intervened in real-time to shift public opinion about the company's decision to split itself in two. This capacity exists: how are political campaigners using it?

  • Democratic tech powerhouse NGP VAN mined the massive voter contact data flowing through its systems and reports that "voter contact efforts [in 2014] are outpacing 2010 by a statistically significant margin." A nifty map shows the hot spots state-by-state.

  • Voter turnout expert Donald Green of Columbia University tells the Washington Post's Philip Bump that at best a strong voter contact operation can shift about two to three percent of the vote.

  • Partially pregnant? Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has written the FCC calling on the agency to reclassify broadband as a telecom service under Title II, but to enforce the classification with a "light touch," reports Mario Trujillo for The Hill.

  • Usefully taking the other side of the "Amazon is evil" argument, Vox's Matthew Yglesias writes that while it is true that the company is "on track to destroy the businesses of incumbent book publishers," that industry "adds almost no value" and writers and readers alike will be better off once it is destroyed.