You Gotta Serve Somebody

Trump's presser with Putin prompts GOP sound and fury; the problem with PDFs; and more.


  • This is civic tech: “The civic engagement space has become much more interesting post-election,” Christie George of New Media Ventures tells Philip Rojc of Inside Philanthropy. “A lot of donors thought it might be flash in the pan, but there’s been a lasting wave of interest and momentum.”

  • Wired’s Simone Weichselbaum takes a close look at how the New York City Police Department is working with Elucd, a local civic tech startup (and Civic Hall member) on developing a sentiment meter for understanding how local residents view the police. The program is still in early stages and as she reports, “many mid-level police supervisors haven’t figured out how to respond to the monthly satisfaction, safety, and trust scores. Beat cops have yet to be introduced to the sentiment program, and it’s been discussed during some CompStat meetings.”

  • Here’s a recap of BetaNYC’s recent project showcase on how the Fund for the City of New York’s community planning fellows and NYC’s civic innovation fellows are using geographic information systems and open data to improve the operations of local community boards.

  • Here are all the reasons why the UK Government Digital Service is committing to publishing content as HTML and not PDF, explained by Neil Williams.

  • Civic Hall is looking to hire two junior staffers, a marketing and welcome desk associate, and a membership and welcome desk associate.

  • Trump watch: My pal (and Civic Hall founder) Andrew Rasiej has long joked that most politicians can’t tell the difference between a server and a waiter, but we never imagined the following answer from President Trump to a reporter’s question about who he believes—the US intelligence community or President Putin—regarding election interference in 2016:

    So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server — haven’t they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that, I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, [CIA director] Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server.

  • Here’s what you need to know about that server, courtesy of Motherboard’s Jason Koebler. The FBI has an image of it, and he writes, “[The] physical piece of hardware is less valuable for an investigation than the onsite image and data extraction from a machine that is up and running. The idea a physical server would add any value doesn’t make any sense.”

  • Infowar news: Jonathon Morgan and Renee DiResta write for Just Security about why cybersecurity needs to do more to respond to today’s information warfare, and also why fact-checking efforts are too little too late. They write: “Narrative solutions to information war — refuting false statements one by one, or trying to counter-propagandize — are ineffective and inefficient in a vast many cases. They’re necessary tools to have and to develop, but we should try to preempt incidents in which they’re ever required. The cybersecurity model — including identifying patterns of infected nodes in the information distribution network, and shutting down or quarantining the infected area — facilitates that ability to preempt.”

    The UK Electoral Commission says the Vote Leave campaign group broke the law by exceeding spending limits on the Brexit referendum.

  • Life in Facebookistan: A new report by Media Matters’ Natalie Martinez of top Facebook pages covering political news finds that for the period from January to July 2018 partisan pages got more engagement than nonpartisan ones, and right-leaning pages got significantly more interaction than left-leaning pages. The report debunks the notion that conservative media content on Facebook is being censored or disfavored. The House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings this morning with representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter testifying.

  • If you think Facebook’s has played loosely with its users’ privacy, just imagine what AT&T will do now that it has acquired Time Warner and adtech company AppNexus, Nick Start writes for The Verge.