Hong Kong and Puerto Rico in revolt; Facebook's big fine; and much more.
This is civic tech: The Knight Foundation is committing $50 million to support cross-disciplinary research at 11 American universities and research institutions focusing on understanding how tech is transforming our democracy and the ways we receive and engage with information. The funding includes the creation of five new centers reflecting different approaches to understanding the future of democracy in the digital age, Knight announced. The funding is part of a larger $300 million commitment the foundation made earlier this year to strengthen journalism and democracy.
Chalmers, a web-based app designed by Toronto non-profit Ample Labs, has just launched, using AI to help connect homeless people to the social services they need 24/7, Laurie Monsebraaten reports for the Toronto Star.
Pitch in: Brian Kettenring is developing “a new online publication for community, labor, and digital organizers in the US” and he’s seeking input (via a short survey) on how best to shape its scope, focus and direction.
Physicist Jessica Wade‘s Women in Red project, which is working to close the gender gap of biographies on Wikipedia in English, gets profiled by Maya Salam in The New York Times. Wade has added 670 profiles so far.
Apply: Bloomberg Associates is looking to hire a media and digital strategies urban fellow to spearhead two research projects, one “mapping the technologies and digital capabilities that are used to deliver city government services across leading global cities using a common framework” and the other “researching digital leadership in city governments across the globe.”
Tech and politics: Deep inside this profile of New York Times’ reporter Daniel Victor, who is based in Hong Kong, comes several fascinating glimpses into how the pro-democracy protestors there are using tech to battle the China extradition law. Demonstrators vote directly on what actions to take by using online discussion forums; protestors sometimes send images to reporters anonymously using the AirDrop feature on their iPhones; and unlike demonstrations in the US where people show up with Instagram-ready signs, protestors are wary of social media and work to hide their faces for fear of later being charged with crimes.
Speaking of island nations in revolt: Politicians hiding their secrets using the text-messaging app Telegram should take note of what’s happening in Puerto Rico, where the publication of 889 pages of texts exchanged between the island’s governor Ricardo Rossello and top aides and cabinet members has set off a popular explosion against widespread corruption that many are calling a revolution. CNN’s Brian Stelter explains how Puerto Rico’s nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism, which has broken many important stories over the years, played a key role in the developments. Here are some of the most controversial remarks from the leaked texts. Follow the hashtag #RickyRenuncia for details.
Life in Facebookistan: Last week the Federal Trade Commission finalized a settlement with Facebook, imposing a record-breaking $5 billion on the company for past privacy failures. Tony Romm reports for The Washington Post how and why the agency stopped short of tougher punishments it originally had in mind, like imposing fines of tens of billions and imposing more direct liability on the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Romm reports that staff investigators at the FTC had concluded that Facebook “breached” its earlier consent decree and “computed a maximum fine that reached into the tens of billions.”
What sharing economy? Don’t miss Andy Newman‘s first-person account in The New York Times of what it’s like to be a app-based food-deliveryman on the streets of New York City. These are “the most vulnerable workers in digital labor,” says Maria Figueroa of the Cornell University Worker Institute. “People think digital economy or the future of work, we’re all going to be these hipsters sitting by their computers or driving these luxury cars,” she adds. “That’s not the case with these guys.” One app, DoorDash, subtracts the amount a customer tips from the total it pays a worker.
More cities are imposing bans on the use of facial recognition technology, Sam Fulwood reports for ThinkProgress.
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