Polish Tragedy

The murder of Gdansk's mayor is a loss for democrats worldwide, including us at Civic Hall and PDF.


  • Pawel Adamowicz, the longtime Mayor of Gdansk, was stabbed to death Sunday during a public charity event. As Civic Hall and Personal Democracy Forum founder Andrew Rasiej writes in this appreciation of his life and work, Adamowicz was a champion of democracy and human rights, and good friend and sponsor of the annual Personal Democracy Forum Central-Eastern Europe conference there, a spinoff of the annual PDF here.

  • Huge protests against his murder have broken out all over Poland, and as this powerful video from last night’s rally in Gdansk shows, Adamowicz was deeply loved by his people. Make sure to watch til the end.

  • This is civic tech: The Ford and Sloan Foundations have announced $1.3 million in new grants to thirteen projects focused on “the sustainability, maintainability, and security of open-source digital infrastructure.”

  • Apply: New Media Ventures is looking for proposals for its 2019 open call, focused on projects that aim to shift power to improve our democracy, due February 11th.

  • Instead of deleting Facebook, author Anand Giriharadas cogently argues for The New York Times that what’s needed is federal law protecting consumers online privacy, and he starts with an intriguing opening: ensuring that big tech platforms aren’t endangering American troops with their data sharing practices.

  • Related: In the Washington Monthly, the Knight Foundation’s Sam Gill and JLabs’ Judy Estrin argue in a smart essay that it’s time we start thinking of the problems generated by ubiquitous surveillance capitalism as “digital pollution,” borrowing from the environmentalist paradigm for addressing industrial pollution.

  • Tech and politics: 350.org’s Chief Product Officer Hanna Thomas writes that it’s time to get rid of your organization’s digital department (something 350.org doesn’t have), because “‘digital’ is no longer a useful distinction.” Read the whole thing, there’s a lot of good stuff here!

  • Text-messaging startup Hustle has laid off more than one-third of its staff after working with more than 1,300 Democratic campaigns during the 2018 midterms, Bloomberg’s Josh Brustein reports, a victim of the boom-and-bust cycle that often plagues political tech.

  • In the New Republic, some guy named Sifry reviews L.A. Kauffman‘s terrific new book How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance. The book looks closely at two iconic events—the 1963 March on Washington and the 2017 Womens Marches—and as I discuss in the review, Kauffman argues that how mass protests are organized is far more important in terms of their long term impact than their immediate demands.

  • Tech workers at Google are organizing to fight forced arbitration clauses in their contracts, saying that they are an obstacle to addressing harassment issues, and as Nitasha Tiku reports for Wired, they are picking up support from workers at companies like Facebook, Uber and elsewhere. More details here.

  • Bird, the electric scooter company, is demanding that Boing Boing take down an article explaining how to lawfully hack the street scooters written by Cory Doctorow, and the EFF’s Kit Walsh explains why the foundation is standing up in support of Boing Boing’s First Amendment rights.