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May 14, 2020

First Post
Micah L. Sifry

Small Compensations

Civic tech responds: Working with North Brooklyn Neighbors and North Brooklyn Mutual Aid, BetaNYC has launched Essentially Open North Brooklyn, a community mapping tool identifying businesses in Greenpoint and Williamsburg that are providing services during the pandemic.

18F’s Alex Soble and Mike Gintz explain how rapid policy changes in things like SNAP eligibility can be more smoothly implemented as code.

Delib.net has started a new podcast called The Practical Democracy Project, featuring Dr. Rebecca Rumbul of mySociety.org as its first guest.

The Civic Tech Innovation Network of South Africa is looking for case studies from anywhere in Africa, as part of their effort to grow the civic tech field continent-wide.

Attend: The Association Civic Tech Europe is holding its launch webinar on May 19 at 11am.

Privacy, shmivacy: The US Senate just voted to give law enforcement agencies to power to look at your web browsing history without a warrant, an expansion of surveillance powers that a bipartisan group led by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) tried but failed to block, Janus Rose reports for Wired.

Tech and democracy: If the 2020 US election is close, then everything that Peter Beinart warns about in his comprehensive report for The Atlantic on the state of voting security will likely come true: Russian meddling combined with domestic conspiracizing will undermine public trust in the outcome.

Related: Say hello to Vote Early Day, a new coalition modeled on the National Voter Registration Day effort, that is pushing to popularize various ways of voting early that are available to millions of Americans.

Life in Facebookistan: 11,250 current and former content moderators will each receive a minimum of $1000 in compensation for mental health issues they may have developed as a consequence of working for Facebook, Casey Newton reports for The Verge. Moderators who are diagnosed with mental health conditions could receive substantially more. Facebook has also agreed to change its content moderation tools to reduce the impact of viewing harmful images and videos (gee, why didn’t they do that in the first place?).

Internal diversity and inclusion training programs at Google have been drastically cut back since 2018, April Glaser reports for NBC News. The cuts were in response to a backlash from conservatives, according to current and former employees she interviewed.

Deep thoughts: Futurist Jamais Cascio has long been looking over the horizon at what might be coming. In “Facing the Age of Chaos,” he warns that we’re entering a time of brittle systems that are failing catastrophically, in ways that are often nonlinear and incomprehensible, and that our increased anxiety make paralyze us and prevent us from making necessary choices. But he also suggests that “brittleness could be met by resilience and slack; anxiety can be eased by empathy and mindfulness; nonlinearity would need context and flexibility; incomprehensibility asks for transparency and intuition.” (h/t Jerry Michalski)

End times: This kid will make a great President some day!

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