A homemade digital clock gets a 14-year-old Texan arrested; it is crazy easy to buy a good online reputation; and more.
Teach our children well: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing today that within ten years all city schools will be required to offer computer science to all students, Kate Taylor and Claire Cain Miller report for the New York Times. Only one percent of the city’s students now get to take computer classes. Half of the $81 million to be spent to achieve this ambitious goal will come from private donors, including the AOL Charitable Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Fred and Joanne Wilson.
De Blasio might want to dispatch a few of his yet-to-be-hired computer whiz teachers to Irving, Texas, where a 14-year-old high schooler named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested Monday after his teachers called police because he brought a homemade digital clock to school and they mistook it for a bomb. As Avi Selk reports for the Dallas Morning News, the school’s principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a signed statement while being interrogated by cops and he’s now been suspended for three days. Mohamed has “vowed never to take an invention to school again,” Selk writes.
The boy’s case is now blowing up online, Nicole Stockdale reports for the Dallas Morning News, with many supporters using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed.
This photo of Ahmed Mohamed as he was walked through school in handcuffs, surrounded by cops, was shared by his sister. Yes, he’s wearing a NASA t-shirt.
The city of Irving was last in the national news after its mayor claimed to be blocking the establishment of a “sharia law” court in the city. Politifact investigated that claim and found it to be false, noting that all that happened was “a few Muslim individuals teamed up to offer Sharia-governed, non-binding mediation services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including in Irving, with the declared intent of complying with state and federal laws.”
“A perfect shitstorm of Islamohobia and technophobia appears to have congealed outside Dallas,” writes Markus Wohlsen as the lede of his article responding to the case, telling readers of Wired how to make their own homemade clock that isn’t a bomb.
Isn’t it interesting what the internet public rallies around? Ahmed Mohamed’s case, which has instantly galvanized nerds and social justice warriors alike (some of whom are the same people—I’m thinking of the amazing Anil Dash, who is at the center of organizing support for Mohamed), is arguably the polar opposite of the Donald Trump phenomenon: smart instead of dumb, embracing the “other” instead of demonizing him.
Future, imperfect: “For less than an expensive dinner out at a 5-star restaurant,” Kashmir Hill of Fusion was able to give “a completely invented business a sterling online reputation.” Her expose of how she created and popularized something called the “Freakin’ Awesome Karaoke Express” should stop you in your tracks.
A drone belonging to an animal rights group was shot down over a fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) that included a pigeon hunt, reports Elise Viebeck for the Washington Post.
Civic tech news: “The rise of civic tech was the main topic at the morning session of Techonomy Detroit,” reports John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press. He writes: “Beth Niblock, [Mayor] Duggan’s chief information officer, said the city has benefited from strong civic tech movements launched by private or non-profit entities such as Data Driven Detroit, which helped create the Motor City Mapping database of Detroit properties. ‘This is such a strong civic tech presence in Detroit,’ Niblock told about 200 attendees in the audience. ‘They had to be strong because government wasn’t functioning’ in Detroit’s pre-bankruptcy days.”
The Citizen Engagement Lab has announced the OPEN-US Kairos Fellowship to “address the racial disparity that exists within the digital movement by pairing robust recruitment with a training and mentorship program that creates a new cohort of tech-savvy campaigners of color.” Eleven fellows will be placed for six month apprenticeships at leading national and state organizations