First Post



A eulogy for the ways things were before social media took over; should Reddit be turned into a workers’ coop?; and more.

  • Hossein Derakhshan, aka “Hoder,” who was once known as Iran’s “blogfather” for his influence on the online scene there in the early aughts, and who spent six years in prison for blogging, now writes a heartbreaking reflection on Medium on how much he, and we, have collectively lost in the web’s rapid transformation from blogging and hyperlinking to social media mongering. Just read the whole thing.

  • Speaking of the rise of social media: 63 percent of Twitter and Facebook users say that each platform serves as a source of news, a new Pew Research Center/Knight Foundation report finds. But Twitter news users are more attentive to news about national government and politics, international affairs, business and sports. Meanwhile, Facebook users are slightly more likely to post and comment about government and politics.

  • The New York Times media columnist Farhad Manjoo suggests that Reddit be turned into a workers’ coop where moderators can be rewarded with stock options, building on a proposal from Reddit board member Sam Altman. Why stop at Reddit?

  • On the other hand, Sam Biddle of Gawker argues, pretty convincingly, that Reddit “can’t be saved” from the rampant misogyny and abusive behavior of its core users, however much they dress it up as “free speech.”

  • Union Square Ventures’ Albert Wenger says that Hillary Clinton’s reference to needing better jobs and workplace protections in the age of the “gig economy” needs a completely different frame, focused on a universal basic income and informational freedom.

  • If you are wondering why Clinton’s campaign is asking her supporters to send her their birth dates, it’s so they can better integrate data about them, Derek Willis of the New York Times explains.

  • The Intercept’s Micah Lee explains in step-by-step detail, how to communicate securely online “in a way that’s private, secret and anonymous.”

  • Here’s a fantastic in-depth “blueprint for designing hackathons” written byJeanne Brooks and Lam Thuy Vo, drawn from their experience organizing Hacking Journalism events.

  • More than 95 percent of the 220,000 individual requests to Google under the “right to be forgotten” provision have come from ordinary members of the public rather than high-profile public figures, The Guardian’s Sylvia Tippman and Julia Powles report. They note, “The data, which has not been revealed publicly until now, was found during an analysis of archived versions of Google’s transparency report and details the numeric breakdown of each request and associated link by country and issue type. The underlying source code has since been updated to remove these details.”

  • This is civic tech: Our Jessica McKenzie reports on DataLook’s “Data for Good” replication marathon, which is underway now and aimed at getting civic hackers to adopt successful projects from around the world and replicate them in their own cities and states. Interestingly, they’re using an open Slack channel to coordinate the effort.

  • Microsoft’s Technology and Civic Innovation team in New York sums up its first year, and while I’m obviously biased (Microsoft is one of the founding sponsors of Civic Hall), I must say it’s a pretty impressive set of accomplishments.

  • The White House is holding a “Demo Day” on August 4th focused on tech inclusiveness, CTO Megan Smith announced during a conference in Aspen.