Skip to main content

Here's some links that piqued our interest this week. #knowledgefriday

3 min read

There were two awesome wins for democratic technology this week:

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reign in NSA backdooring 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.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court unanimously voted to strike down an abstract software patent:

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.

Jake Solomon calls for empathy in civic service design:

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!

Knowledge Friday: Links we loved this week

3 min read

It’s the last Friday of May, and the end of our third week at Matter. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, and whatnot.

Here are some links we loved this week.


New Curbs Sought on the Personal Data Industry (NY Times)

The FTC has called on Congress to protect consumers against the collection and sharing of their digital data by data brokers.

Political consequences of the Google debate (Feuilleton)

From German politician and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel:

“Every time we ‘search’ for something on Google, Google searches us and captures information about ourselves which can not only be sold for targeted personalised advertising, but is, essentially, also available to our bank, our health insurance company, our car or life insurance company, or – if the need arises – to the secret service. There’s no such thing as a free lunch – we pay for these services with our personal data – and, unless we are careful, at the end of the day with our personal and social freedom as well.”

Venture Capital Firm Appoints Machine Intelligence As Board Member (io9)

A Hong Kong-based VC firm has appointed a machine learning program to its board. They say that it’s “an ‘equal member’ that will uncover trends ‘not immediately obvious to humans’ in order to make investment recommendations.”

Silicon Valley’s PRISM Problem (Medium)

“Along this road are over half a dozen companies named in the broadest civilian surveillance initiative in public memory.”

You’re probably using the wrong dictionary (

“He says, for instance, that in three years of research for a book about Alaska he’d forgotten to look up the word Artic. He said that his dictionary gave him this: ‘Pertaining to, or situated under, the northern constellation called the Bear.’”


Dance Camera West, Dance Media Film Festival

If you happen to be in Los Angeles June 6 – 8th and 13th and like contemporary dance and/or film, consider checking out Dance Camera West. I’ve been wishing to go for almost 10 years now. Of course I never made it when I actually lived in Los Angeles. Dance Camera West is an organization that supports contemporary dance and dance media. This year’s shows include Globe Trot, a crowd-sourced dance film made up of one second of choreographed dance from 54 filmmakers around the world.

Beyond distributed and decentralized: what is a federated network? (Institute for Network Cultures)

Wait, so is it distributed, decentralized, or federated? I’m still confused.

Try Out Fira Sans: a Free, Open Source Typeface Commissioned by Mozilla (Do Not Lick)

Mozilla recently released an open source typeface, Fira Sans. Check it out.

Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism (The Atlantic)

I’m already a little behind on my , but here’s a curated list that should keep me reading things written in 2013 until 2015 rolls around.

Behind the scenes of Star Trek TNG

This week LeVar Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to the web. In the spirit of great shows I watched growing up, here’s a clip from one of my favorite episodes of Reading Rainbow.