Rand Paul’s app; why we shouldn’t let the sharing economy monopolize “social serendipity”; and more.

  • This is civic tech: In order to build a polyglot democracy that serves all Americans, including those with limited English proficiency, we need to think beyond translation, writes CTO Cayden Mak.
  • Campaigning? Fundraising? Rand Paul built an app for that, Nick Corasaniti reports for the New York Times. The app includes a game where players try to blow up his competition’s campaign logos, and pushes information about upcoming events in the area. Corasaniti also reports that the app will send push notifications “when he is about to vote on a bill in the Senate, asking his followers how they think he should vote.”

  • Yesterday, Nicholas Carr explained for Politico “How Social Media Is Ruining Politics.” But his reasons for saying so could be deployed in almost any “social media is ruining X” article: “What’s important now is not so much image as personality”; “The more visceral the message, the more quickly it circulates and the longer it holds the darting public eye.”

  • The D.C. start-up incubator 1776 now has a $12.5 million investment fund to dole out to innovative start-ups in D.C. and beyond, Aaron Gregg reports for the Washington Post.

  • Poderopedia, a project that maps the who’s who in politics and business in Latin America, has announced that they are developing a new version of the platform, and are committing to doing more journalism than they have previously. For more detail, read this tiny manifesto by founder Miguel Paz.
  • In a somewhat whimsical post for The Conversation, Ethan Zuckerman asks “Could the sharing economy bring back hitchhiking?” Zuckerman observes that much of the language used to persuade users to trust companies like Lyft and Airbnb could be used to defend hitchhiking as a normal and healthy practice.

    Zuckerman, for one, says he regularly picks up hitchhikers and appreciates getting to know his community in this way, adding that “social serendipity is too important an activity to be left to the advertising slogans of sharing-economy start-ups in the hope that they will make it happen as a side benefit.”

  • Facebook has submitted a patent application for a tool that would allow loan providers access to one’s social network information for the purposes of deciding whether or not to grant the application, Susie Cagle reports for Pacific Standard.

    From the application: “In a fourth embodiment of the invention, the service provider is a lender. When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individual’s social network who are connected to the individual through authorized nodes. If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected.”

    From Cagle: “In short: You could be denied a loan simply because your friends have defaulted on theirs. It’s the kind of digital redlining that critics of “big data” collection have been warning of for years. It could make Facebook a lot of money, and it could make the Web even less safe for poor people. And it could be just the beginning.”