Not sure how I feel about this. As long as government scientists have no more power than any other Wikipedian, I don’t see the problem, although I have intuitive alarm bells going off. Government employees will have certain motives and biases that will color their edits, but so does everyone else on Wikipedia, no?
Clever use of Tumblr to put a lie to the AP’s futile attempt to control their content.
A tribute to “fair use” and the AP’s misguided crusade against the hyperlink. All content on this site was generated automatically from the AP’s own RSS feeds. (Sorry, we forgot to include your magic DRM beans.) ♥
Aaron Swarz writes about going offline for 30 days.
I am not happy. I used to think of myself as just an unhappy person: a misanthrope, prone to mood swings and eating binges, who spends his days moping around the house in his pajamas, too shy and sad to step outside. But that’s not how I was offline. I loved people — everyone from the counter clerk to the old friends I bumped into on the street. And I loved to go for walks and exercise in the gym and — even though there was no one around to see me — groom. Yes, groom: shower and shave and put on nice clothes and comb my hair and clean up my nails and so on, all things a month ago I would have said went against my very nature, things I never did before voluntarily.
But most of all, I felt not just happy, but firmly happy — solid, is the best way I can put it. I felt like I was in control of my life instead of the other way around, like its challenges just bounced off me as I kept doing what I wanted. Normally I feel buffeted by events, a thousand tiny distractions nagging at the back of my head at all times. Offline, I felt in control of my own destiny. I felt, yes, serene.
Speaking of copyright zealotry, this is pretty funny. While there are good reasons to take down an advertisement that was leaked before you were ready to show it, they should have known this has Streisand Effect written all over it.
Each article — and, in the future, each picture and video — would go out with what The A.P. called a digital “wrapper,” data invisible to the ordinary consumer that is intended, among other things, to maximize its ranking in Internet searches. The software would also send signals back to The A.P., letting it track use of the article across the Web.
Any smarties know what they’re talking about? How do you watermark text? (via fimoculous.)
Mr. Rosen, the journalism professor, scoffed at the thought of editors dismissing Web stats. “What world are you living in if you don’t know where your users are flocking to?” he asked. “How can you edit your website?”
True, but I think there’s value in a product that is the result of editorial and aesthetic judgments of experienced professionals that you can choose to follow. The wisdom of the crowds is great, but it’s not an either-or proposition.
Recovery.gov's maps tell you where the money is going, and it's going to state capitals
Any time I’ve heard government officials talk about the future of Recovery.gov, I’ve heard them mention maps. Maps that will let you drill down to your neighborhood and see the stimulus spending right around you. Well, the maps were rolled out last Thursday, and there was even a congratulatory press release from Vice President Biden. Tell me if you notice anything interesting in this map of federal grant recipients from Recovery.gov.
Geography wizzes will recognize that almost all the bubbles on the map, which represent federal grants, neatly coincide with state capitals. Check it out for yourself right here. What this highlights is a deeper problem of stimulus spending data: reporting is only required to go to two levels down. Sure, we can see that the Department of Education gave the state of California (displayed on the map as a bubble in Sacramento) so many millions of grant dollars. And we may even know that California gave a subgrant to the Los Angeles School Board. But what happens after that is missing, and will likely remain missing under the Act’s transparency requirements and OMB guidance.
These maps are great, but I’d rather have deep, meaningful data in a structured format so I can make my own maps.
"The Manhattan Airport Foundation is a land-use constituency committed to the immediate development of a viable and centrally-located international air transportation hub in New York City for the benefit of all New Yorkers." (Via PJ.)
"The 1990s were lean years for him as a performer and recording artist. … Seebach’s problems with alcoholism took their toll on him and he died at the age of 53 from a heart attack at amusement park Bakken, where he was head of musical entertainment during the past several years."
Most down-to-earth account of the open government movement—its promise and its pitfalls—I’ve seen.
"What we’re trying to accomplish is to fundamentally change the default setting in the public sector when it comes to information and transparency in general," [Kundra] explained. "We want to by default assume that data is going to be public."
What’s a developer to do when his app won’t make it into the app store because it violates the terms of service? Be awesome: “[H]e’ll sell you access to the source code for $15, and you can compile the App yourself to load onto your own devices.”
Evgeny Morozov has an op-ed in the New York Times today that makes the case that cyberattacks are not an existential threat to the country or anything even close. He also argues that more secrecy around cybersecurity is exactly the wrong way to address the problem, citing the old geek adage “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” He even explains that “Much of the real computer talent today is concentrated in the private sector,” and that “It’s no secret that many computer science graduates perceive government jobs as an ‘IT ghetto.’”
So far so good. Bravo, in fact. Unfortunately, he suggests that “To inject more talent into government IT jobs, it is necessary to raise their visibility and prestige, perhaps by creating national Tech Corps that could introduce talent into sectors that need it most.”
As Jim Harper has noted, given that cyberattacks may not be as serious a threat as many assume, it might be better to allow the private sector (which has the talent and the incentive) to protect its own infrastructure. DHS and the military can protect the .govs and the military the .mils. The government could benefit from private R&D on run-of-the-mill cybersecurity, and they can focus on protecting critical and secret assets, which in any case should not be connected directly to the wider internet.
Google reader is starting to look a lot like Tumblr and Friendfeed. I wish it would let me find out which of my Google contacts are sharing publicly, though. Also wish I could set a threshold for number of likes.