SIGNS OF HOPE
Community-based solutions to ticketing and fines; 18F and the Department of Defense collaborate, saving millions; and more.
The Internet Public Speaks: Since yesterday, more than 1,000,000 tweets have included the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed, according to Topsy.
As Manny Fernandez and Christine Hauser report for the New York Times, the massive wave of support for the 14-year-old Texas boy arrested for bringing his clock invention to school included President Obama, who tweeted his support for Ahmed Mohamed and invited him to the White House.
The police now say they won’t pursue charges against Mohamed, the Dallas Morning News’ Avi Selk reports. The boy’s new Twitter account has 72,000 followers. As Selk reports:
The joke to his big sisters, Ayisha and Eyman, is that Ahmed was invisible on social media before an outcry over his arrest made him an online sensation. Their tech whiz of a brother had no Twitter account, no Facebook, no Instagram or Snapchat. So the sisters set him up on Twitter as @IStandWithAhmed—a slogan that the world had given the boy as his story spread overnight. The young women stared at their phones Wednesday morning, stunned as the phrase became one of the most popular memes of the day.
These two photos of “an Arab-looking man of Syrian descent in a garage w/his accomplice building what appears to be a bomb” also got a lot of retweets.
This is civic tech: The winner of St. Louis’ GlobalHack V last weekend, which focused on creating solutions to improve the working of the city’s court system, was Inveo, which, according to Matt Meniette, Global Hack’s executive director, “developed a platform called CommuniSee that allowed residents to easily look up and resolve tickets through a variety of methods (e.g. by name and birthdate or through a simple map). Their solution also introduced a new way for residents, municipalities, and the private sector to collaborate to reduce the number of outstanding fines and fees: a tool for corporations or nonprofits to pay off outstanding fees in exchange for volunteer work and help hard-working individuals (many of whom may already be volunteering in their community) get a fresh start.”
A recent consulting project between the Department of Defense and 18F saved the DOD $150 million by taking a “more technically informed approach to procurement,” Federal Times’ Aaron Boyd reports. That’s more than the entire $105 million currently requested for the whole U.S. Digital Service.
April Glaser and Alison Macrina report for Slate on how the citizens of Lebanon, New Hampshire, came out in force Tuesday night in support of their library reinstating its Tor relay for safe, anonymous web browsing, which had been suspended after an inquiry from the Department of Homeland Security. By evening’s end, the library’s board voted to restore the relay. Glaser and Macrina report that “dozens of libraries” have contacted the Library Freedom Project as a result of the controversy, “hoping to set up their own Tor nodes.” They add, “This week’s victory for Lebanon Libraries is a sign of hope in a post-Snowden world.”
The Open State Foundation has uploaded its full Politwoops archive of more than 1.1 million deleted tweets by more than ten thousand politicians in thirty-five counties to the Internet Archive.
Tech and the presidentials: If you want to see how people watching last night’s GOP debate responded in real-time on Bing Pulse, check out this page. The three questions that came “from social media,” as CNN anchor Jake Tapper put it, raising the issues of medical marijuana, guns, and climate change, were a refreshing break from typical debate questions that tend to focus on personalities and the horserace.