There were two awesome wins for democratic technology this week:
The House of Representatives just overwhelmingly voted to rein in the National Security Agency. By a vote of 293 to 123, the House approved a proposal by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and others that would limit "backdoor searches," a method of spying on Americans despite legal safeguards designed to prevent it.
Essentially, the Court ruled that adding “on a computer” to an abstract idea does not make it patentable. Many thousands of software patents—particularly the vague and overbroad patents so beloved by patent trolls—should be struck down under this standard. Because the opinion leaves many details to be worked out (such as the scope of an “abstract idea”), it might be a few years until we understand its full impact.
Over in Campaign, Russell Davis discussed why content can't truly blossom in walled gardens, and why the indieweb is important:
This little band of web idealists actually have quite a lot in common with some of the world’s largest corporations. They all embarked on the exciting adventure of building their own websites, experimenting with content management systems, blogs and Flickr accounts before being lured to the ready-made audiences offered within the confines of Facebook, LinkedIn etc. [...] And, now, everyone’s not quite so sure; these are precarious places. Do you want Facebook to decide how many people your "free" content reaches? As strange as it sounds, maybe corporations should be investigating the IndieWeb – they might be fellow travellers.
Teens don't necessarily agree. VentureBeat listed the apps they actually use:
Teens. Since the beginning of humanity, they’ve always represented what the future of humanity would look like. Now, thanks to a new survey, we have an idea of what kinds of websites, apps, and online services the future of humanity will enjoy– at least for the next few years of existence. Then, an entirely new crop of startups replaces the upstarts that recently rose to power.
This is how we interface with our government: We beg on our knees, we queue all night for shelter, and we get aggressive letters in the mail. Our services disdain those they are envisioned to help. [...] This disdain shows in huge, controversial, life-changing ways. We take 260 days to get disability benefits to our veterans. We spend $3,000 to room a family for a month while the family begs for $900 in cash instead.
And finally, we were enthused by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Mozilla teaming up on a community platform for journalism:
The collaboration among representatives of the three organizations grew out of conversations that began last October at an industry conference, according to Sasha Koren, the Times’s deputy editor of interactive news who is also part of the steering committee. [...] The project, which will have about a dozen members, will be led by Mozilla’s Dan Sinker, who heads the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews initiative, which develops digital-news tools.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!