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First POST: Command Lines

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, January 14 2015

Command Lines

  • The White House is unveiling a new report aimed at supporting more community-based broadband. As Amy Schatz reports for Re/code, "in reality, the White House isn't offering much new" beyond reiterating what the FCC has been saying about the topic. Still, with President Obama going to Cedar Rapids today to highlight the issue and the White House planning a June summit on local broadband access, the issue has never gotten more attention in Washington.

  • Sophisticated software aimed at reading the emotion behind human facial expression was good enough to predict someone's voting preference with 73% accuracy, based on watching their reactions to clips of the Obama-Romney debates, Raffa Khatchadourian reports for The New Yorker in the course of a long piece on the emerging industry of facial recognition.

  • Blockchainiacs, arise! Scott Rosenberg has long been one of the few journalists who writes about code and the Internet with complete technical fluency while making his work understandable to non-techies. That's why his long and detailed discussion on Medium's Backchannel of the potential of the blockchain, the technical innovation underlying BitCoin, to revolutionize not just commerce but all human interaction, and fix some underlying design problems that plague the web, is worth your attention.

  • Rosenberg tops off his piece with a brilliant counterpoint quote from writer-developer Maciej Ceglowski, who challenges the romanticism powering the blockchainiacs, saying:

    There is a tendency in computer-land to seek technical solutions to political problems. In my opinion, the focus on the blockchain (and related ideas) falls into that misguided category. The idea that we should look to algorithms and technology to reclaim our freedoms is fundamentally undemocratic. It presupposes a technical elite who would ‘fix the Internet’ for everyone else. While I can see how this appeals to romantic ideas of hacking the system, I see it as a dangerous trend at worst, and a distraction at best.

  • The Knight Foundation announced an additional three-year $3 million grant to Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism to support work in areas including computational, algorithmic and data-driven journalism.

  • GovTech profiles the new civic start-ups in Tumml's incubator program, including two focused on transportation (a carpooling service and a crowdsourced parking app), a platform for informed political engagement called Simpolfy, and two focused on food delivery for healthy school lunches and employing low-income youth.

  • Here's a great list of state and local IT blogs that cater to government tech professionals, curated by Nicole Blake Johnson of StateTech Magazine.

  • Uber's new charm offensive includes sharing anonymized usage stats with Boston city planners, Vlad Savov reports for The Verge.

  • AfriLeaks has launched, reports the Guardian. Here's techPresident's report on its creation.

  • In yesterday's First POST, the link to Aldon Hynes' post about Hack4Dean was incorrect. Here's the right one.

  • Personal Democracy Forum 2015, taking place June 4-5 at New York University, is now open for early-bird registration. Lock in your tickets at our best, lowest price. Confirmed speakers include Sunil Abraham, Cory Doctorow, Harold Feld, Tristan Harris, Sandy Heierbacher, Nanjira Sambuli, Astra Taylor and Zephyr Teachout.