Fatigue

The potential and pitfalls of chatbots in nonprofit work; Sidewalk Labs sidesteps privacy questions in Toronto; and more.


  • Beth Kanter and Allison Fine consider the potential and the pitfalls of using chatbots in nonprofit social justice work, and make specific recommendations for organizations thinking about incorporating them into their work.

  • Tech and politics: Writing about the attention arms race for Locus, Cory Doctorow observes that most humans become inured to specific manipulative tactics over time, ultimately comparing our once-upon-a-time weakness to Farmville to the political data and influence company Cambridge Analytica, whose influence—if indeed, the company did influence the 2016 campaign—will not necessarily last any longer than Zynga’s did.

  • At least six states have introduced legislation this week that would enforce net neutrality rules within their boundaries, Cecilia Kang reports for The New York Times. North Carolina, Illinois, and other states are considering the same.

  • Cyber-insecurity: A new federal bill proposes to make credit reporting agencies pay hefty fees if their data hoards are hacked, which happened to Equifax in 2017, Laura Hautala reports for CNET.

  • John Lorinc reports for Civicist on the unanswered questions about Sidewalk Labs’ proposed smart neighborhood in Toronto.

  • Apple’s new privacy feature that protects users from being tracked from website to website is costing the ad-tech industry millions in revenue, Alex Hern reports for The Guardian.

  • The commissioner of New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Anne Roest, is stepping down later this month, Matthew Flamm reports for Crain’s. Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Samir Saini as Roest’s replacement.

  • Companies like OurBus and Boxcar are creating new commuter bus routes from the suburbs to New York City based on demand form potential riders, Ronda Kaysen reports for The New York Times.

  • Sustainable thinking: “Institutions function in relationship to one another, so when you have an institution that is being destroyed, the system begins to tear,” Masha Gessen tells Audie Corning in an interview for The New York Times Magazine. “A great example of that is the travel ban—the reason the judiciary was able to act so quickly was that civil society, which is also an institution, had sprung into action. The whole democracy depends on its existence. We’re seeing civil society fatigue with the different iterations of the travel ban, which is basically the exact same travel ban all over again, and that’s what I’m really worried about. Gradually, the fatigue is starting to stick.”

  • TL;DR: Maybe don’t buy that coat on Instagram.

  • bethkanter

    Thanks for linking to our piece on Robots