Hand Waving

The appearance of potential impropriety; how tech companies directly helped the Trump campaign; and more.


  • Although this story by Bianca Wylie about a botched procurement and design process for an anti-harassment app comes from the city of Toronto, the problem sounds all-too-familiar. “The number of problems apparent throughout this purchasing process, from solution to design to vendor, is a reminder of how easy it is to talk about civic digital innovation while operating in a completely opposing and problematic way,” Wylie writes. “One opportunity moving forward is to proactively invite all City ABCs to a procurement forum to discuss purchases coming up in the next 12 months that will be requiring IT procurement and thinking with Toronto’s tech and civic tech community on ways to work on them. All the hand waving about tech in Toronto is worth nothing if the software the City ends up actually buying is bad tech.”

  • Writing for Government Technology magazine, Chris Bousquet reflects on the use of data in emergency response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

  • PDF Ukraine was last week, and you can watch a video of the entire event on their website.

  • Data viz daily: Daniel Willis made a map that shows the percentage of homeless students in California schools.

  • The shooting in Las Vegas has made people on Twitter sadder than ever, according to Hedonometer.

  • Trump watch: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have re-routed their personal emails to computers run by the Trump Organization, Brad Heath reports for USA Today. (But her emails!) The move coincides with increased public scrutiny after their use of personal emails for official White House business first came to light. (But her emails!) A former federal prosecutor told Heath the move “certainly creates the appearance of potential impropriety.” (But her emails!)

  • Tech and politics: Sen. Ron Wyden has asked six manufacturers of voting machines what steps they are taking to safeguard against cyberattacks, according to a press release from Sen. Wyden’s office.

  • Russian-backed Facebook ads targeted voters in Michigan and Wisconsin, Manu Raju, Dylan Byers, and Dana Bash report for CNN. Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan was the smallest across the country; he won by a mere 10,700 votes. Wisconsin was also a close race, decided by only 22,700 votes.

  • Writing in BuzzFeed, professors Daniel Kreiss and Shannon McGregor argue that direct assistance from Facebook, Google, and Twitter was probably far more beneficial to the Trump campaign than Russian trolls. They quote Trump’s director of digital advertising, Gary Coby, who told them, “I required that if people wanted to work with us, they needed to send bodies to us in Texas and put people on the ground because Hillary had this giant machine, well-built out with digital operations, and we’re just a few guys and a big Twitter account,” he told us…Google, Twitter, and Facebook, we had people who were down there constantly and constantly working with us, helping us solve our problems in relation to how we’re using the platforms…If we’re coming up with new ideas, bringing them into the fold to come up with ideas of how their platform could help us achieve our goals.”

  • Snapchat hasn’t found Russia-backed ads on its platform, but Reddit and Yahoo keep mum on the subject, Tony Romm reports for Recode.

  • Media matters: Dan Gillmor reports that the Cronkite School at Arizona State University has launched a new collaborative lab to create, test, and promote innovations for a more robust news ecosystem.

  • Moment of zen: “They came for coffee. The walked away with capital.”