Array of Things

What $3 million in sensors will do for Chicago; Google hires part of "Netflix for books" team; and more.

  • Women are being asked inappropriately personal and family-related questions on stage at major tech conferences, Margaret Gould Stewart writes in Medium, and it is a waste of an opportunity for the participants on and off stage alike. Stewart argues that interviewers should either pose the same questions to men, or to stop asking them full stop. She also complains that the conference gift bags are sometimes tailored exclusively to men, which would annoy me, too.

  • Array of Things: Susan Crawford reports for Medium’s Backchannel on the sensor network that will soon be taking up residence in Chicago, tracking and reporting air quality, pedestrian traffic, ambient noise levels, and more. With $3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, Chicago plans to deploy 500 devices by the end of 2017.
  • “I’ve seen innovation every damn day of my life and very little of it gets love from the likes of Silicon Valley,” writes Samala, in a piece published on Medium that touches on the tech culture in San Francisco and the greater Valley, neglected civic tech endeavors, and why she personally no longer believes that the Bay Area is “a mecca of innovation”:

    Put simply: “The industry is not building products and services that will change all lives for the better.”

  • Speaking of Silicon Valley, Geoffrey A. Fowler’s Wall Street Journal review of the iPhone 6s calls it the “stickiest iPhone yet,” a trap meant to wed us to Apple services and software and keep us there ’til death do us part.

  • And Google has hired most of the Oyster—the “Netflix for books”—team, Peter Kafka and Mark Bergen report for ReCode. This could mean that Google wants to launch a similar service down the line; if so, they’d be competing with Amazon.

  • Donald Trump shouts down reporter who asks about Fred Trump’s 1927 arrest during a Ku Klux Klan meeting, according to this interview transcript from New York Times reporter Jason Horowtiz. The story was first broken by Matt Blum in Boing Boing, which Trump dismissed in the Times interview as “one little website.” One little website can be one big thorn in one’s side.

  • Hollie Russon Gilman explains for Civicist how the new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals have civic participation written right into them. For more evidence that the hacktivist/build-with-not-for ethic has penetrated the U.N., see this U.N. Foundation-sponsored piece by Rosie Spinks in Good Magazine on “How Hackathons Could Make World Peace a Reality.”

  • After a year as the Chief Data Officers of LA, Abhi Nemani is ready to move on. These are his initial reflections on his time there.

  • Opportunity: The Knight Foundation is launching its second Cities Challenge in October, in which anyone can submit their idea for improving their city. The best ideas will receive some portion of the $5 million set aside for this challenge. See winning ideas from last year here and start thinking about your own proposal now. Applications will be available starting October 1.