YCombinator to lead research on basic income; life inside Facebookistan; and more.

  • This is civic tech: David Moore of the Participatory Politics Foundation (longtime friend of Personal Democracy Media and Civic Hall member) lays out a detailed vision of the “open data infrastructure for civic engagement” that the U.S. civic tech field badly needs. Believe it or not, we still don’t have open data for every elected official and candidate; nor do we have open standards for constituent communication data.

  • YCombinator’s Sam Altman announces a research project aimed at exploring the idea of a universal basic income. They want to give a basic income to a group of people in the U.S. for a five year period, and they’re looking for a full-time researcher to lead the project. (Who will presumably get something more than a basic income. Oh, the irony.)

  • Mark your calendars: Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE 2016, our fourth annual European sister conference, will be taking place in the historic city of Gdansk this coming March 17-18. The theme this year is Re/Disconnecting Citizens. For more details and to register, go here.

  • Janet Haven, longtime director of the Open Society Foundations’ Information Program, is joining the Data & Society Institute in February as its first director of programs. (Welcome to the neighborhood!)

  • Digital Democracy, which works to empower marginalized communities to use tech to defend their rights, is looking for a Community Engagement Fellow.

  • Tech and the presidentials: ZDnet’s David Gewirtz makes a valiant effort at decoding the presidential candidates rhetoric to determine where each of them stands on encryption.

  • The “Grassroots for Sanders” sub-reddit, which has more than 150,000 subscribers, has raised more than $1 million through its own dedicated portal for the campaign, the Burlington Free Press’ Jess Aloe reports.

  • More than half the people Donald Trump has retweeted so far this week have white supremacist connections, Jay Hathaway reports for New York magazine, citing data from Marshal Kirkpatrick’s data analysis service LittleBird. (Do note: the “connections” cited are things like following one of the top 50 White Nationalist accounts on Twitter or following at least three people who have used the hashtag #WhiteGenocide recently.)

  • Something to like: Remember Facebook’s experiment in giving its staff a taste of the slow internet service its poorer users experience in the developing world, which was supposed to help them be more “empathetic.” Well, the guy who signed off on that idea, Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, is now leading the company’s push to drop its “Like” button for a new, more varied feedback tool called “Reactions,” reports Sarah Frier for Bloomberg Business.

  • Frier’s story is filled with fascinating findings about life inside the heart of Facebookistan, including this gem about the impact of people “liking” stuff on the site: “In January, [company chief operating officer Sheryl] Sandberg went so far as to suggest that likes could help defeat Islamic State: By posting positive messages on the terror group’s Facebook pages, users could somehow drown out the hate.”