A note on language; Maps and anti-racism; K-pop's downside; and much more.
A note to readers: It has come to my attention that my use of the term ‘Facebookistan’ in First Post is racially insensitive. I apologize for the hurt that this has caused. While it has never been my intent to denigrate people or countries that have the suffix -stan in their name by using the term, and instead what I was trying to convey was the idea that Facebook, as a gigantic company run by a single ruler with huge powers and a population of more than 2 billion under his rule, had colonized all of its users, I understand that the impact is landing differently. Going forward I’ll refer to Facebookia instead.
This is civic tech: Emily Jacobi of Digital Democracy has written an eloquent essay on mapping and white supremacy, noting how maps made by Westerners have long been used as a “tool to enable slavery, genocide and massive land theft,” and lifting up the centuries of indigenously-drawn maps as a counter-tradition. Longtime readers of the page may recall Dd’s long-running and careful work with the Waorani people of Ecuador, and how they have co-developed a participatory mapping process as well as specialized software called Mapeo to produce hyper-local and incredibly detailed maps of these communities and their relationship to the lands they live on. Read her words, and consider how Big Tech companies like Google arrogated to themselves the right to build highly detailed maps of the world, and how some communities understood Google Maps as a form of surveillance capitalism and resisted its spread.
After nine months of deliberations, over the weekend, 150 French citizens drawn from a random representative sample of the country’s population met in “La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat,” came to consensus on a broad series of policy proposals for addressing climate change, including voting to make “ecocide”—the knowing damage of ecosystems—a crime. Claire Mellier-Wilson, an observer, reports that the citizens assembly was quite productive, with its recommendations now going to French President Emanuel Macron on June 29th, and with the French media covering the process with some intensity. The assembly has called for three referendums to be held. As Democracy International notes, this is “the first time in French history that a citizen participation process leads to binding outcomes.”
Speaking of citizen deliberation, here’s Matt Stempeck’s second piece in his in-depth guide to “Next Generation Engagement Platforms,” this time focusing on private sector products Neighborland, CitizenLab and Delib. With rising demands in the United States to defund police and redirect local budgets, he also notes that these platforms may be useful to people pushing for more participatory budgeting solutions.
Civic Hall’s Tenzin Kyisarh, Curtis Davis and Fiona Teng 鄧穎恆 have compiled this in-depth look at “Innovations of This Protest Movement,” highlighting translations, interventions, crowdsourcing and more from black lives and the Movement for Black Lives.
Related: “Currently, only 2.7% of VC investment goes to women-led startups,” Allyson Kapin of the W Fund writes for Forbes. “And of all VC funding over the past decade, Latinx women-led startups have raised only 0.32% while black women have raised only .0006%.” She adds, “Investing in diverse-led startups isn’t about charity or altruism. Rather, this is about capturing an opportunity to back startups whose leadership understands untapped market needs. It’s about creating the future of tech to solve its biggest problems while addressing society’s structural issues in building economic power beyond the 1%.”
The pandemic has exposed deep weaknesses in state infrastructures like call systems and websites, as Colin Lecher reports for The Markup. In Florida, where more than 20 million calls to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, which handles unemployment claims, have come in, people have waited up to 12 hours to speak to an agent.
Attend: This Thursday, Code for America’s Brigade Network is hosting a webinar on “People Power: Connecting Community to Government During COVID-19” at noon EST.
Tech and politics: A lot of people are celebrating the effort of K-pop stans and TikTok teen activists who flooded the reservation pages for President Trump’s ill-attended campaign rally in Tulsa last Saturday, but technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci has a cautionary note: “People should think: Wait how will this be weaponized by someone else? (It will). What will happen to the public sphere? How could we design things for healthier outcomes no matter who the weaponizers are?”
Life in Facebookia: Retailers REI, Patagonia and the North Face, along with companies like Upwork and Dashlane, have joined in the #StopHateforProfit coalition’s call to pause their advertising on the platform until the company does more to stop the spread of hate, Allen Kim and Brian Fung report for CNN.
Privacy, shmivacy: A new Amnesty International report should raise concerns for journalists, human rights activists and anyone who thinks their phone use is private: It appears that in Morocco, the authorities are using a “network injection” attack that allow for “for the automatic and invisible redirection of targets’ browsers and apps to malicious sites under the attackers’ control, most likely unknown to the victim.” A forensic study of investigative journalist Omar Radi’s phone that even without clicking on any malicious links, his phone had been hacked from visiting any random website, since the attacker intercepted his cell signal and redirected it to a malware site without his knowledge. Amnesty is calling on NSO, the likely source of this practice, to halt its abuse. Using a VPN on your phone may provide some security, as well as regularly rebooting it, Amnesty adds.
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