Openometer

April Fool's & civic tech; a clash over the Snowden archive; and much more.


  • This is clvlc tech: The ‘Lectronic Frontier Foundation has a bunch of updates, including the announcement of Philadelphia’s new Smart-Ass City Initiative, the launch of a new civil liberties collider to be built by the UK and Australia, and the approach of the 21 millionth joke about crytpocurrency, after which no new Bitcoin jokes can be minted.

  • Vu Le, the author of the NonprofitAF blog, shares a sneak peek at Fundr, a foundation-grantee matching app that is still in development. If you are nervous about sharing your logic model, and also want to find likeminded partners, this app might be for you.

  • ICYMI, check out “World My Vote,” and a bunch of other great names for civic tech projects, courtesy of Matt Stempeck‘s Civic Tech Name Generator, which launched yesterday.

  • More seriously now, the District Attorneys of Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties are partnering with Code for America to automatically clear more than 50,000 cannabis convictions that are now eligible for expungement under Proposition 64, which was approved in 2016.

  • Congrats to Nancy Lublin, founder of Crisis Text Line (and longtime friend of Civic Hall) who is one of the six winners of the Skoll Foundation’s 2019 Social Entrepreneurship award. Awardee organizations receive $1.5 million in core support investments to scale their work and increase their impact.

  • I See Change is a civic tech citizen-science nonprofit that has developed creative ways of engaging local residents and government in solving community environmental challenges, and as Louise Lief writes in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, its multidisciplinary approach is a key to its success—but has also made it hard for traditional funders to support. That needs to change, she argues. “Such projects defy easy categorization but can tap into diverse streams of knowledge for many purposes, packing a bigger punch and resulting in greater impact.”

  • Life in Facebookistan: Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes to the Washington Post to outline some new rules “for the Internet” that he would like government to impose on companies like his. Interestingly, he calls for building on comprehensive privacy regulation in line with Europe’s GDPR (though back when GDPR took effect Zuck moved 1.5 billion Facebook users from the company’s Irish servers, which are under EU jurisdiction, back to the US, where consumer privacy rules are, shall we say, nearly non-existent.

  • Brent Harris, the company’s director of governance, announces that Facebook has begun a public consultation process on the design of its planned “Oversight Board.”

  • Old posts written by Zuckerberg have disappeared, Rob Price reports for Business Insider. Among the missing posts are ones that describe key moments in the company’s history, like promises he made at the time of its acquisition of Instagram that he has since broken.

  • YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan insists to Kevin Roose of the New York Times that while its recommendation engine may indeed show users more extreme videos, “it’s not in our business interest to promote any of this sort of content.”

  • Browsing TikTok, a video-sharing app, is how people waste time at work now, John Herrman writes for The New York Times.

  • Media matters: Barrett Brown takes to Medium to accuse the Intercept of covering up the reasons it decided to shut down its administration of the Snowden archive. The internal emails he shares from Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras suggest a serious rift between her and co-founder Glenn Greenwald.

  • The Knight Foundation’s journalism program has announced $6 million in new support to three organizations that work to help free and independent news producers develop sustainable business models: The Institution for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers and News Revenue Hub.

  • Tech and politics: For Politico, Jesus Rodriguez grades the Democratic presidential candidate websites on how well they communicate with Spanish-language speakers, and the results no es bonito. That is, they look like they’ve literally been run through Google Translate.

  • A network of several hundred inauthentic Twitter accounts, some fake and many run by human actors, is working in sync to promote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and smear his opponents as Israel prepares to vote next week, Ronen Bergman reports for The New York Times.

  • Of 954 presidential campaign staffers working in tech, digital media, data and analytics from the 2004-2016 cycles, Democrats over-hire from a handful of elite coastal universities, while Republicans hire more from a mix fo state public institutions and smaller regional private schools, Daniel Kreiss of UNC-Chapel Hill reports.

  • Food for thought: In the Spring issue of the American Prospect, some guy named Sifry reviews three new books on tech and society, Zucked by Roger McNamee, Custodians of the Internet, by Tarleton Gillespie, and The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, by Shoshana Zuboff. The latter of the three, in my humble opinion, is the most important book I have ever read on the intersection of technology, politics and society, but to understand why, you’ll have to read my review.

  • Last but not least, this essay by Irin Carmon in New York magazine, on what happened to her and a colleague when their reporting on sexual harassment in media for the Washington Post collided with the top men (and lawyers) at 60 Minutes, is a must-read on speaking truth to power.

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