Illusions

Silicon Valley's political awakening; why change evades change-makers; and more.


  • In his opening speech at the Obama Foundation Summit yesterday, Anand Giridharadas said meaningful change evades aspiring change-makers “because powerful illusions guide their project.”

    These illusions are: “First, the illusion that the world can be transformed one starfish at a time. Second, the illusion that you can change the world without changing people. And, third, the illusion that you can change the world without being rooted in it.”

  • This is civic tech: The California Civic Data Coalition has released almost two decades worth of California election data, on every candidate, ballot measure, and election in the government database that tracks money in politics.

  • Code for Orlando co-captain and National Advisory Council member Andrew Kozlik shares a version of the closing speech he gave at the Brigade Congress earlier this fall.

  • Benjamin Powers reports for Pacific Standard on a grassroots network that links on-the-ground observations about the changing environment by individuals, many of them from indigenous communities, with scientists who can help make sense of different trends and anomalies. Anyone can register and submit reports through the app or website; the global network already has more than 2,000 members representing 488 communities.

  • Spanish chef Jose Andres has helped orchestrate the delivery of more meals in Puerto Rico than any other single agency or organization, including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and FEMA, Kim Severson reports for The New York Times. “Since he hit the ground five days after the hurricane devastated this island of 3.4 million on Sept. 20, he has built a network of kitchens, supply chains and delivery services that as of Monday had served more than 2.2 million warm meals and sandwiches,” Severson writes. Although communication has been a challenge, the network has made do with satellite phones, WhatsApp, and paper maps to keep track of stations.

  • Life in Facebookistan: 19 civil rights groups have sent a letter to Facebook about the “hateful content” on the platform that has been “used to divide the country,” and to ask the company to do something about it, Jason Schwartz reports for Politico.

  • Yesterday, Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch responded evasively to tough questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee member Senator John Kennedy, Cale Weissman reports for Fast Company.

  • Kurt Wagner and Tony Romm from Recode were liveblogging the whole thing, in case you want to catch up.

  • Wired’s Issie Lapowsky has a few suggestions for questions that Congress should ask tech executives with regards to Russia.

  • Two 20-year-old college students build a Google Chrome browser extension that diagnoses the likelihood a particular Twitter account is a partisan political bot, Lauren Smiley reports for Wired.

  • Politics and tech: Moira Weigel reports for The Guardian on the political awakening of leftie technologists.

  • Attend: Our D.C. friends might be interested in checking out the first event held by the Open Markets Institute, on whether tech giants are too big for democracy, on November 8. Learn more here.