Innovation Cell

Sexism at Apple; another TurboTax for voting; and more.

  • The Columbia Journalism Review and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism have published an extensive (12.5k words, so probably weekend reading) research paper by Rafia Zakaria on Islamophobic and anti-Muslim speech online and the real-world consequences of that speech.

  • Nitasha Tiku reports for BuzzFeed that Y Combinator’s Sam Altman is helping build the “TurboTax of voter registration,” which he and his team are calling VotePlz. (TurboVote, as you probably know, is already taken.)

    If you read the whole thing, you’ll notice Tiku gets some zingers in. “In this way, VotePlz seems constricted by the same naivete as other recent acts of Silicon Valley interventionism, such as investor Shervin Pishevar’s plans for an app that would reduce police violence or even Altman’s research on building a new city from scratch. Tech moguls are flexing their muscle in the civic arena more often these days, but passion projects tend to come with a lot of promises and little accountability.”

  • Abhi Nemani takes to Medium to argue that we should broaden the definition of public servant.

  • The Pentagon is apparently going to start doing business with more startups, with plans for a third Defense Innovation Unit Experimental outpost in Austin, Patrick Tucker reports for Government Executive. The expansion may mean that the “innovation cell” (!) is making headway. Previously, critics have complained that it wasn’t breaking things fast enough.

  • On Wednesday, Mic’s Melanie Ehrenkranz posted an article based on the emails of current and former Apple employees detailing the small and big ways that the company tolerates and sustains a “sexist, toxic work environment.”

  • On Thursday, Gizmodo’s William Turton thought it was worth his time to share additional details about one particular incident and basically tell the woman who reported it along with the rest of the internet that she was overreacting—that the “rape joke” (his scare quotes) wasn’t a big deal. Never mind that in the original story Ehrenkranz notes that this is not the only offense but the last in a series, or that what apparently prompted Turton’s piece is learning that the Mic article sparked “an internal email thread among 12 employees” (shocking! so newsworthy!), or that this tipster is on the Apple team that LOLed at the “rape joke” so of course he thinks they’re not the bad guys.

  • The Center for Investigative Reporting has announced that in partnership with Google News Lab they are launching Reveal Labs, a program that will help foster investigative reporting in a network of newsrooms around the country.

  • Maeve Shearlaw reports for The Guardian on the growing popularity of Estonia’s e-residency initiative, which only costs 100 euros, and allows foreigns to run their business out of that country (which might appeal to business owners in the UK worried about how Brexit will affect their work). (h/t Adam Bard)

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