Turbulence

The voluntourism industrial complex; how Facebook trends center-left, on purpose; and more.


  • This is civic tech: Tired of hackathons that produce “zombie apps” with little uptake? Take a look at In.CoDe (Innovation and Collaboration for Development), an innovation development process that the Asia Foundation has been nurturing in Indonesia, as described here by foundation program director Andrew Thornley.

  • Related: New York’s Economic Development Corporation and Civic Hall are co-hosting the NYC Big Apps showcase night next May 12. RSVP here to see what Addicaid, Benefit Kitchen, CityCharge, IssueVoter, JustFix.nyc, and Treasures have achieved so far in their drive to make a better city.

  • Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice and Gene Kimmelman of Public Knowledge make the case in the Hill for expanding the FCC’s Lifeline program to include internet access.

  • On Civicist, guest contributor Ben Berkowitz of SeeClickFix says the open data movement should press for ways for citizens to be more open with their government and calls for a “standardized, machine readable way” for government to listen to its constituents.

  • In part two of his series of pieces on civic tech, David Fine of Placemeter offers a way of thinking about disruptive innovators like Uber that don’t start out with a civic focus but end up inserting themselves in to efforts to help cities modernize their services.

  • “What if art centers everywhere understood their mandate to be: ‘Ignite the public imagination of your community’?” That’s the question Deborah Cullinan, the CEO of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, explores in a post on Medium.

  • If you’ve ever felt the pull to go abroad and work on social change, stop and read this essay by Courtney Martin on “the reductive seduction of other people’s problems.” She notes, “There is a whole ‘industry’ set up to nurture these desires and delusions — most notably, the 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., many of them focused on helping people abroad.” I don’t know what’s better about this piece—the writing or the snapshots from “Humanitarians of Tinder.”

  • Tech and politics: While online organizing allows for many tiny acts of politics to rapidly congeal into mass moments, Oxford Internet Institute scholar Helen Margetts convincingly argues that the larger result is greater political turbulence, Nate Matias recounts in a live-blog of her recent talk at MIT.

  • Writing for Civicist, Dave Karpf argues that Donald Trump did far better than expected in the Republican nominating contest because of news analytics, the tools the media industry has come to rely on for measuring and responding to audience attention.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Little-noticed in Michael Nunez’s scoop in Gizmodo detailing how Facebook news curators pull together those “trending topics”—they “regularly avoid” sites with right-wing political perspectives like The Blaze and Breitbart. This has the editors of The Federalist, another conservative site, rightfully riled. It’s time that Facebook stopped dodging the fact that it acts like a media company with editorial judgment, rather than a software company applying neutral algorithms to how it surfaces information for its billion-plus users.

  • Trump watch: Free Press Action Fund executive director Craig Aaron explains why the organization is pressing tech companies and other major corporations to pull out of funding the Republican National Convention. While the organization doesn’t support or oppose candidates for office, he writes, “we do oppose racism.”

  • MoveOn Political Action, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President, is planning an “intensive campaign in key states” to oppose Donald Trump, its executive director Ilya Sherman announces.

  • 34,000 people have signed the #NeverTrump pledge, up 25 percent since Tuesday.