First Post



Netroots Nation gets back to its unruly roots, shouting down O’Malley and Sanders; how NASA got good at social media; and more.

  • Over the weekend at Netroots Nation, activists with #BlackLivesMatter, the Dream Defenders, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration interrupted the conference’s presidential town hall session with candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. As David Dayen reports for the New Republic, neither candidate rose to the occasion, presumably because they expected a traditional Democratic party event rather than a democratic power protest.

  • Netroots Nation, which was originally the Yearly Kos conference, has its roots in the unruly outsiders who “crashed the gates” of the Democratic establishment in the mid-2000s, but in recent years it has gotten much more professionalized, like a trade show for the liberal-left. This weekend’s events mark a shift back toward movement politics. And as Chris Savage of Michigan’s Electablog recounts, the confrontation during the town hall session was a “teachable moment” for white progressives.

  • BuzzFeed’s editor in chief Ben Smith looks under the hood of the escalating conflict between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Uber and sees “a high-stakes confrontation that will absorb his mayoralty and define the politics of Uber and its lesser-known siblings in the flexible, insecure new economy.” He reports that City Hall thinks the cap on Uber’s expansion in NYC, likely to be voted into law tomorrow, is a “boutique side issue” that only a “small set of excited tech people who are reading Mashable” care about, but warns that Uber has unlimited cash and will spend it to chip away at his popularity.

  • Here’s De Blasio in Saturday’s Daily News explaining how he sees the stakes in the Uber fight. He writes: “When you consider what’s at stake—from ensuring workers can make a decent living, to managing the surge of more than 2,000 new cars on our streets every month, to protecting consumers from overcharges, to making sure we have more accessible vehicles for New Yorkers with disabilities—it’s our responsibility to act.”

  • One sign that the fight is escalating: Uber’s chief strategist David Plouffe tweets last night: “Things are not on the level at NYC’s City Hall. Wasn’t the City Council told this was all about “congestion”? Not anymore.”

  • In the wake of a recent California Labor Commission ruling deeming an Uber driver as a company employee, and facing several similar lawsuits about its own workers, cleaning services company Homejoy has announced it is shutting down, Carmel DeAmicis reports for Re/Code.

  • Of the 34,340 people who gave money to Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and have also given in 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders has received donations from nearly 25,000 of them while Hillary Clinton has received support from just over 9,000 of them, data-mining firm Crowdpac has found, David Catanese reports for US News.

  • Senate candidates Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Kamala Harris of California are proving that the Senate doesn’t have to live in the digital dark ages: they are voluntarily filing their campaign finance reports electronically, reports Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity. (h/t Adam Smith)

  • Quartz’s Adam Epstein reports on how NASA learned to get good at social media. It’s a lovely case study, but it reads as if NASA didn’t do anything social or participatory until Twitter came along and a communications staffer, Veronica McGregor, made the spur of the moment decision to start an account for the Mars lander. In fact, as Jeanne Holm, who was then the agency’s chief knowledge architect, once told me, it was the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that showed NASA that it had a distributed network of volunteers (thousands helped collect and map the debris that landed across several states) and fans (the agency had just launched a new website and many people left heartfelt sympathy messages). Those realizations led to a wholesale shift in how NASA engages the public, the fruits of which we now see.

  • An ex-Google employee who now works for Slack, Erica Baker, says a crowdsourced salary spreadsheet that she and some coworkers started “got reshared all over the place” leading to discoveries about pay discrimination, some more equitable shifts in pay, as well as grumpiness from her managers, Kristen Brown reports for Fusion.

  • LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman says self-driving autonomous cars shouldn’t just be allowed, they should be “mandatory in the vast majority of spaces.”

  • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange tells Der Spiegel that since the site’s launch of a “next generation submission system” the site is “drowning in material now.”

  • New York City’s Big Apps competition launched Thursday night at Civic Hall with a focus on affordable housing, zero waste, connected cities and civic engagement, reports Miranda Neubauer for Capital NY.

  • With Greece’s formal economy collapsing, an informal “solidarity economy” appears to be growing, experimenting with alternative currencies to manage bartering and time banks, reports Emma Graham-Harrison for The Guardian. She notes, “There are many projects whose obsolete websites stand as the only memorials to their founders’ dreams, ranging from a project for unemployed young people in Athens to the votsalo (pebble) currency,” whose failure she reports in detail.