Category Archives: Uncategorized

Introducing the Civic Features Collection (also in the top nav)

I’ve been inspired for some years now at the potential social impact of embedding social good and civic features into otherwise mainstream technology platforms. After years of building technology projects in DC that only reached 20% of our email list, the ability to reach millions of regular people in the apps they already use is alluring.

I’ve collected examples over the years to help make the argument and increase the practice internally. The similar examples I’ve collected for my Companies Mobilizing Customers Tumblr, which tracks the politicization of users in mainstream apps, have recently been featured in the New York Times (“The Uber-ization of Activism“) and at Fusion (“Meet the Apptivists: The volunteer lobbyists helping keep Airbnb, Uber, and other startups alive“). Given the attention being paid to in-app political campaigns, I thought it would make sense to also share the public-good civic features in a more visual format. Unlike the Companies Mobilizing Customers Tumblr, I’ll try to provide more context and commentary on the featured features. Today, for example, Facebook’s state-sponsored cyber-attack feature is in the news, because it’s how the State Department learned that individual employees’ social media accounts had been targeted by Iran. Check it out.

In praise of echo chambers, and Nuzzel

I once spent an afternoon during my time at the MIT Media Lab with a marker board and Kshitij Marwah. We drew out the various news products we could make using link-sharing data from once-removed contacts in users’ networks. We thought we might help people discover content they were likely to like sooner, by surfacing trending links before even their own network had discovered and shared them.

A version of this idea has successfully been productized by the team at Nuzzel. Once a critical mass of your contacts share a link (8 seems to be the magic number in my network), the app sends you a push notification with the story. The app primarily looks at shares within your immediate network, but also has an extended network view. With its timely but manageable updates, it fits squarely within a new generation of apps designed to live in your phone’s notifications shade.

Screenshot by @nmonroe
Continue reading In praise of echo chambers, and Nuzzel

Yahoo!’s employee diversity

Yahoo! has responded to Google’s release of employee diversity statistics with its own numbers. Also like Google’s report, Yahoo! has broken out tech and leadership categories versus the overall employee population. The numbers still aren’t great for African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans, but the regular release of these statistics will allow us to hold these companies accountable — from within and from outside — for improving diversity. So, without further blog post, here are Yahoo!’s employee diversity visualized on their new logo:

62% male, 37% female

Race at Yahoo!: 50% white, 39% Asian

50% White, 39% Asian, 4% Hispanic ethnicity, 2% Black, 2% Two + races, 2% Other / not disclosed Continue reading Yahoo!’s employee diversity

Tally Your Next Panel

I just built a quick app with friends old and new. It’s called Tally, and it lets event attendees and media consumers call out the all-too-frequently terrible gender ratios on panels and in Who’s Who lists. We took an existing social practice, where feminists take and share photos of panels with awful gender ratios, and built software to support it.

Tally’s a very simple app: You just enter where you are (or what you’re reading), and the number of men and women represented in this particular slice of the public dialog. The tool generates a representative pie chart graphic for you to share with others, send to the organizers, or just document. Positive ratios are adorned with a happy star, and negative ratios earn a storm cloud.

A recent Tally chart of #FortuneTech's gender ratio
A recent Tally chart of #FortuneTech’s gender ratio

Continue reading Tally Your Next Panel

Entrepreneurship in Civic Tech

Liveblog of a Code for America event in San Francisco.

The phrase “civic technology” has been claimed by those using technology to advance government, activism, political campaigns, neighborhood involvement, journalism, humanitarian relief, urban planning, and ever more realms. These fields overlap, in many cases. Broadly, we might define ‘civic tech’ as technology deployed on behalf of the common good.

Code for America’s definition is “technology that’s spurring civic engagement, enhancing citizen communications, improving government infrastructure, or generally making government more effective.”

Civic Entrepreneurship

Dharmishta Rood introduces the Code for America Accelerator program, which is open for another week. She points to the success of two Texan police officers who founded Street Cred in the previous cohort. She’s joined by a roster of panelists to discuss the tactical strategies and steps of civic entrepreneurship: Continue reading Entrepreneurship in Civic Tech

Shit Tech Companies Say, When Laying Off Thousands of Employees

The Next Web pulled together snippets of the press releases tech companies share when laying off thousands of employees. I removed the specific company names (to focus on common language) and created a quick word cloud:

Word Cloud

Not surprisingly, the not-great news of “our business has to changed at the scale of firing thousands of people who were once necessary” is frequently spun into “we’re pro-actively realigning our business to be even better in a modern global industry!” There are so many positive words in here! Perhaps the fired employees could benefit from this strategy, as well, by incorporating some of this language into their resumes. They didn’t get laid off, they aggressively realigned their position in a global market.