Gun dealers v. Starbucks dataviz; widow sues Twitter for violating Anti-Terrorism Act; and more.
The proposed bill in New York to require state smartphone vendors to sell only phones that can be decrypted or unlocked by the manufacturer or OS provider has had one unexpected boon: it has drawn New Yorkers’ attention to, and even generated excitement about, the NYSenate.gov relaunch (which I wrote about last October) and how New Yorkers can use it to express support (“aye”) or rejection (“nay”) of proposed legislation, as Zack Whittaker has encouraged ZDNet readers to do.
For the Chicago Tribune’s innovation vertical, Amina Elahi reports that Chicago’s civic tech scene has in many ways stalled, which Smart Chicago Collaborative’s Dan O’Neil attributes to a disconnect between activists in the street and civic technologists. This extends to campaign tech, too: “There may not be a game-changer in political technology this election cycle as campaigns lean on the widely available and affordable data analytics tools and techniques pioneered by Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012,” Elahi concludes.
I Quant NY’s Ben Wellington crunched the numbers again and found that 28 percent of New York City is not patrolled by the closest precinct house. Reasons that might matter? First of all, it would perhaps make reporting crimes easier, because the logical place to go would be the closest precinct house. Then, Wellington also wonders whether centrally-located precinct houses could improve community-police relations.
Data visualization company 1point21 Interactive has created a map that clearly shows the 6 to 1 ratio of gun dealers to Starbucks in the United States, Tanvi Misra writes for CityLab. Gun sellers (64,747 licensed as of December 2015) even outnumber the total number of coffee shops in the U.S. (55,246 in 2016).
There were multiple explosions in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday, but Facebook did not deploy its safety check feature, Nadine Freischlad reports for Tech in Asia. Following terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, Lebanon, last year, Facebook was criticized for activating the feature for the former but not the latter, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they would activate it for more “human disasters” in the future.
The Twitter Government and Elections team last night tweeted that Trump dominated 38 percent of the #GOPDebate conversation, a hefty lead over Cruz, at 22 percent, Bush at 11 percent, Rubio at 10 percent, and Carson at 9 percent.
Speaking of Twitter, over at Motherboard, Sarah Jeong has written a thorough and fairly engrossing history of Twitter’s Rules, from the first 568 to the now 1,334, and all the little additions and subtractions in between. She concludes, in part: “In a way, things were easier when Twitter was still the free speech wing of the free speech party. In the golden age of Twitter’s free speech brand, the company was often lauded for doing the “hard” thing when standing up to governments worldwide. In retrospect, this corporate hardheadedness was easier to pull off than what they’re doing now, where speech is policed in the name of free speech…The Twitter of today strikes an uneasy balance between its old self and the unapologetic, ideologically-unburdened censoriousness of Facebook and Instagram. It remains yet to be seen whether the company has the vision and creativity to live out its new identity.” It’s well worth a stroll down memory lane.
In other Twitter news, the widow of an American killed in a terrorist attack in Jordan is suing Twitter for violating the Anti-Terrorism Act, Jonathan Stempel and Alison Frankel report for Reuters.
The app Stolen, which allowed users to collect and trade Twitter profiles, has shut down after being overwhelmed with complaints and concerns about the potential for harassment and abuse. If, like me, you don’t understand what the appeal was in the first place, or you want a better understanding of all the things that could or did go wrong, Holly Brockwell interviewed Siqi Chen, the CEO of the company behind Stolen, for Gadgette.
It’s never too late for resolutions: Although we missed it when it originally went up, an email from 18F’s Melody Kramer drew our attention to a blog post she co-wrote with Britta Gustafson on 18F’s New Year’s resolutions, which include developing metrics for measuring progress, improving documentation, improving communication when asking for help; asking for help, make it easier to contribute and to reuse tools they’ve built; etc. The full list is worth a perusal.