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They Found a Way to Limit Big Tech’s Power: Using the Design of Bitcoin

The New York Times – “Companies inspired by the cryptocurrency are creating social networks, storing online content and hosting websites without any central authority…When YouTube and Facebook barred tens of thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters and white supremacists this month, many flocked to alternative apps such as LBRY, Minds and Sessions. What those sites had in common was that they were also inspired by the design of Bitcoin. The twin developments were part of a growing movement by technologists, investors and everyday users to replace some of the internet’s fundamental building blocks in ways that would be harder for tech giants like Facebook and Google to control. To do so, they are increasingly focused on new technological ideas introduced by Bitcoin, which was built atop an online network designed, at the most basic level, to decentralize power. Unlike other types of digital money, Bitcoin are created and moved around not by a central bank or financial institution but by a broad and disparate network of computers. It’s similar to the way Wikipedia is edited by anyone who wants to help, rather than a single publishing house. That underlying technology is called the blockchain, a reference to the shared ledger on which all of Bitcoin’s records are kept. Companies are now finding ways to use blockchains, and similar technology inspired by it, to create social media networks, store online content and host websites without any central authority in charge. Doing so makes it much harder for any government or company to ban accounts or delete content…”

See also The New York Times – What is a Blockchain? Is It Hype? A technology based on a decentralized network may offer more control over what people do online.

Why Is Big Tech Policing Speech?

The New York Times – “Because the Government Isn’t. Deplatforming President Trump showed that the First Amendment is broken — but not in the way his supporters think….The giants of social media — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram — had more stringent rules. And while they still amplified huge amounts of far-right content, they had started… Continue Reading

Enabling the future of academic research with the Twitter API

Twitter Developer Blog: “…With the new Academic Research product track, qualified researchers will have access to all v2 endpoints released to date, as well as: Free access to the full history of public conversation via the full-archive search endpoint, which was previously limited to paid premium or enterprise customers Higher levels of access to the… Continue Reading

NYU Professor Creates COVID-19 Dashboard to Compare Country and State Data

“A new online dashboard, created by NYU Professor Alexej Jerschow, brings together COVID-19 data from U.S. states and countries around the world to compare cases, deaths, vaccines, and testing in a visual, user-friendly format.  The tool also integrates a range of policies governments have implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19—including school closings, stay-at-home orders,… Continue Reading

Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

“Welcome to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. This work-in-progress is a comprehensive quotation-based dictionary of the language of science fiction. The HD/SF is an offshoot of a project begun by the Oxford English Dictionary (though it is no longer formally affiliated with it). It is edited by Jesse Sheidlower. Please explore the menu links to learn more.” Continue Reading

A 2011 dictionary is reshaping the language of corporate reporting

Quartz – “A new corporate principle is: Never say you’re restating anything. The machines will hold it against you. Over the past decade, “restatement” is the word companies have most strenuously tried to avoid in the text of their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to an upcoming paper by academics at Georgia… Continue Reading

Pandemic Bar Exams Left Many Aspiring Lawyers Behind

Deborah Jones Merritt et al., Pandemic Bar Exams Lef Many Aspiring Lawyers Behind, Bloomberg Law (Jan. 6, 2021) – “A disorganized response by bar examiners to the Covid-19 pandemic disadvantaged many prospective bar exam takers this year, say four members of the Collaboratory on Legal Education and Licensing for Practice. The 2020 process reduced the… Continue Reading

Law Enforcement Statutory Database

National Conference of State Legislatures: announcement – “Legislative interest in policing and police accountability is currently at an unprecedented high. Deaths and other confrontations involving law enforcement continue to drive national conversations about policy and promote review of current state and local laws. From May 25, 2020 through the end of 2020, 36 states and Washington… Continue Reading

Please Stop Calling Things Archives

Perspectives on History: “Various disciplinary “archival turns” over the course of the past few decades have resulted in a tendency towards the over-casual use of the word “archive” as a shorthand to refer to, well, just about anything. While historians are not the most egregious of offenders, this exasperating tendency has led to an increasing… Continue Reading

Google Search and Maps will soon show vaccination sites with important details

Google Blog: “…Highlighting authoritative information and local vaccination sites on Search & Maps – To help find accurate and timely information on vaccines, we’ve expanded our information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages, with more rolling out in the coming week. We’ll begin showing state and regional distribution information… Continue Reading

Crowdsourced maps will show exactly where surveillance cameras are watching

Fast Company – “Amnesty International is producing a map of all the places in New York City where surveillance cameras are scanning residents’ faces. The project will enlist volunteers to use their smartphones to identify, photograph, and locate government-owned surveillance cameras capable of shooting video that could be matched against people’s faces in a database… Continue Reading