Sourcing

The government’s new Federal Source Code policy; “data journalism” is overrated; and more.


  • This is civic tech: Tony Scott, the U.S. Chief Information Officer, takes to the White House blog to announce the release of the government’s new Federal Source Code policy, which will make source code available for sharing and re-use across federal agencies and require that at least a portion also be released for public use. Commenting on Twitter, Mike Bracken, the former director of the UK’s Government Digital Service, said, “Well done @POTUS…Platform strategy, central team, procurement reform, shared code = better, cheaper public services.”

  • Here’s Civic Hall member Sam Daley-Harris, founder of the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation, talking with Thom Hartmann about how political activists need to combat cynicism.

  • Tech and politics: If you signed up to make a monthly donation to the Donald Trump campaign and now want to cancel, the Trump website makes its pretty hard to do so, James Dennin reports for Mic.com. “The site layout makes it appear that once you’ve set up a donation, you may only switch from one valid credit card to another,” he reports. (The Hillary Clinton campaign, by contrast, makes it fairly simple for a donor to cancel a recurring contribution.)

  • This reminds me of how Ross Perot returned to the political stage after temporarily dropping out of presidential race in 1992: he asked people to call an 800-number to say whether they wanted him to keep running, and when you called the number you were automatically thanked for supporting him.

  • A rare longitudinal study of voters in 2012 built by surveying users of Microsoft’s Xbox (yes, they can do that) produced this surprising finding: big swings in presidential polls do not prove that lots of voters are changing their minds; they mainly reflect changing inclinations to respond to pollsters. That is, as Andrew Gelman and David Rothschild write in Slate, “When there was good news for Mitt Romney, more Republicans opted to respond to the poll; when Obama was riding high, Democrats were more likely to respond. The result was that large and systematic changes in nonresponse had the effect of amplifying small changes in actual voter intention.”

  • Reporting for our Rethinking Debates project, Nick Gaines looks at how one of the French presidential election debates of 2012 crowdsourced questions via Facebook and gained viewers.

  • Speaking of debates, Hadas Gold reports for Politico that the Commission for President Debates is asking debate hosts to be ready to add a third podium to their stages, just in case a third-party candidate like Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party clears its 15% polling threshold for invitation.

  • Deep lobbying: Jeffrey Eisenach of the American Enterprise Institute has spent much of the last decade opining against net neutrality without detailing his intimate relationship with Verizon, The New York Times’ Eric Lipton, Nicholas Confessore and Brooke Williams report in the second part of a series on hidden corporate influence at Washington think tanks, And sometimes the lobbying is even deeper and more subtly hidden. As they point out, a letter to the FCC chairman opposing net neutrality, signed by more than a dozen top DC think tank economists and scholars who all said they had no financial stake in the issue, cited more than a half dozen studies funded by the telco lobby. And when two senior fellows at more liberal think tanks weighed in with some scary estimates at the cost of regulating the internet like traditional phone lines, they didn’t disclose the fact that a consultancy they worked counted Verizon and AT&T as clients.

  • Whither the new journalism? Andy Carvin, a pioneer in participatory journalism, has announced that his news start-up Reported.ly will be suspending operations as of the end of August because its funder, First Look Media, has decided to stop supporting it.

  • Longtime media curmudgeon Michael Kinsley argues in Vanity Fair that the new “data journalism” as exemplified by Vox and the Upshot is overrated.

  • Millions of Chinese internet users are paying close attention to how their country and its athletes are doing at the Rio Olympics, and as Leah Liu reports for ForeignPolicy.com, they’re not taking any slights—like criticism of their star swimmer Sun Yang—lying down.