Affirmations

Civic hacking history; human decisions that go into Facebook's Trending Topics algorithm; and more.


  • Life in Facebookistan: Microsoft researcher Tarleton Gillespie offers a near-exhaustive list of all the human decisions that go into the algorithms that make up Facebook’s Trending Topics.

  • Conservative commentator Glenn Beck, one of several prominent right-wingers that met with Facebook brass Wednesday, writes on Medium that he was more upset with the behavior of his compatriots at that meeting than with company executives. He writes, “in my opinion, there is no evidence of a top-down initiative [by Facebook management] to silence conservative voices.” He also notes his consternation to hear fellow conservatives asking the company for what he calls “affirmative action for conservatives.”

  • In my opinion, conservatives upset with reports that Facebook may have been politically editing its Trending Topics have a deeper problem: the site’s American user base tilts urban, young and female. So even if the site treated all content equally, it would tend to surface and highlight content that is more likely to engage urban, young and female Americans.

  • California saw a two-day jump of 200,000 new online voter registrations after Facebook posted a reminder to its California users at the tops of their news feeds this past Monday, the secretary of state’s office announced. One-third of the registrations were by voters aged 17-25, while another 29% were by 26-35 year-olds.

  • This is civic tech: Writing for Civicist, Mark Headd responds to Dan O’Neil’s article about the success of the civic hacking community in Chicago, reflecting on his own experiences in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Headd argues that a big part of the reason a city’s civic tech community thrives is the critical role of city government.

  • BetaNYC’s Noel Hidalgo recounts some of the civic hacking history that led to Alpha.nyc.gov.

  • Here’s some geeky good news: iCarol, which makes call-center software, has announced its support for the Open Referral Human Services Data Specification. As Greg Bloom of Open Referral comments, this marks “a major step toward a future in which all resource information systems can speak a common language.”

  • New York City’s Technology Development Corporation, a city-funded nonprofit technology consulting corporation who sole client is the city of New York, is looking to hire a president.

  • Tech and politics: Our Jessica McKenzie reports on how Chris Rabb, one of the first political bloggers, used a combination of “high tech and high touch” to win his Democratic primary for state senate in Pennsylvania.

  • Opening government: Welcome to “Open Heroines,” a new group blog started by a global group of 90 women (and growing) who work in the fields of open government, open data and civic tech.

  • Mexico has launched a new “National Transparency Platform,” J. Tadeo reports for Global Voices.