Countering web addiction; vote swapping to beat Trump in swing states; and more.

  • Alert, alert! Yesterday morning, anyone in the New York City area received an emergency alert on their smartphone asking for assistance locating a suspect in the Chelsea bombing on Saturday evening, the first time, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, that the emergency alert system has been used for such a purpose, Rafi Schwartz and Casey Tolan report for Fusion. It read, “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9–1–1 if seen.”

    “While the intent of this alert may have been to mobilize the public for what is shaping up to be a massive manhunt,” Schwartz and Tolan write, “the effect of everyone’s smartphones suddenly beeping and vibrating out en masse was decidedly less organized—particularly for a city already frazzled from the bombing itself.”

  • De Blasio later credited the system with “contribut[ing] to the successful apprehension” of Rahami within several hours, Carl Bialik reports for Five Thirty Eight. However, Bialik also chronicles the numerous ways the system is out-of-date and inefficient.

  • Self-care: Andrew Sullivan, the creator of the popular erstwhile blog The Dish, formerly The Daily Dish, writes in the pages of New York Magazine than an addiction to the web nearly killed him, and he went to extreme measures (if a meditation retreat in Massachusetts can be called extreme) to try to heal himself.

    “We all understand the joys of our always-wired world,” Sullivan writes, “the connections, the validations, the laughs, the porn, the info. I don’t want to deny any of them here. But we are only beginning to get our minds around the costs, if we are even prepared to accept that there are costs. For the subtle snare of this new technology is that it lulls us into the belief that there are no downsides. It’s all just more of everything. Online life is simply layered on top of offline life. We can meet in person and text beforehand. We can eat together while checking our feeds. We can transform life into what the writer Sherry Turkle refers to as “life-mix.””

  • Election season: If election coverage has got you feeling harried, take a step back with Christine Cupaiuolo’s just-published report, Rethinking Debates, which looks at how countries around the world are trying to increase engagement and participation in political debates.

  • Dan Gillmor writes in The Atlantic that journalists and debate moderators need to take some next-level steps to counter lies and misinformation from politicians. His suggestion?

    “Have teams of experts on the topics likely to be discussed examine the veracity of candidates’ claims. / If they determine that a candidate is lying, programmers kill the sound going to viewers’ TVs and other screens. While the line can be difficult to draw, I’d do this only for brazen lies—such as Trump’s easily proved lie that he publicly opposed the Iraq War before it started—not standard policy overpromises. / During the silences, of which there would no doubt be many, viewers would see the candidate’s lips moving. But there would be an overlay of text saying, “He’s talking about [insert subject] but making false statements; here’s the truth about this subject: … ” and so on.”

  • Vote swapping is back! John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes explain in the New York Times opinion pages how “Trump Traders” will target five swing states (Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas): “The system is simple. If you are thinking about voting for Mr. Johnson and live in a swing state, contact a friend who is voting for Mrs. Clinton in a safe state, and trade. Or, since it’s 2016 and not 2000, we recommend the new #NeverTrump app, which will organize your contacts into safe states and swing states, enabling an easy trade. The safe-state friend will vote for Mr. Johnson, and the swing-state voter picks Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Johnson still gets a vote, but not at the expense of a major Electoral College haul for Mr. Trump.”

  • Rankings: Government Technology has released the results of the 2016 Digital States Survey, in which ten states earned an A or A-.

  • Rick Paulas explains for Pacific Standard why American internet is so slow compared to the rest of the world.

  • Apply: There’s still time left to apply to be a Congressional Innovation Fellow before the deadline on September 30.

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