Summary of “Alan Rusbridger: who broke the news?”

News, the thing that helped people understand their world, that oiled the wheels of society, that pollinated communities, that kept the powerful honest – news was broken.
Some believed we had too much free news; others, that paid-for news was leaving behind it a long caravan of ignorance.
There might soon be entire communities without news, or without news they could trust.
Loads of reporters were at it: it was how the News of the World had won so many awards.
The News of the World, rattled by this new legal action, had offered to pay Taylor an enormous sum – £400,000 plus £300,000 costs – to drop the action.
The Daily Mail employed many outstanding reporters, but the relentless, bruising, sometimes brutalising editorial ethos of that paper had little in common with the BBC or the Financial Times, any more than Fox News had much in common with the New York Times or Washington Post.
We trust a public service broadcaster above all private news providers – but regularly revile it.
After two decades of disruption, it may be possible that none of the old conventional business models can still support serious news in the public interest.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Who needs democracy when you have data?”

“No government has a more ambitious and far-­reaching plan to harness the power of data to change the way it governs than the Chinese government,” says Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. Even some foreign observers, watching from afar, may be tempted to wonder if such data-driven governance offers a viable alternative to the increasingly dysfunctional­looking electoral model.
“Several petitioners told us they have been stopped at train platforms.” The bloggers, activists, and lawyers are also being systematically silenced or imprisoned, as if data can give the government the same information without any of the fiddly problems of freedom.
The government plan, which covers both people and businesses, lists among its goals the “Construction of sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, and judicial credibility.” To date, it’s a work in progress, though various pilots preview how it might work in 2020, when it is supposed to be fully implemented.
What information is available is deeply flawed; systematic falsification of data on everything from GDP growth to hydropower use pervades Chinese government statistics.
The Chinese government rarely releases performance data that outsiders might use to evaluate these systems.
Their accuracy remains in question: in particular, how well can facial-recognition software trained on Han Chinese faces recognize members of Eurasian minority groups? Moreover, even if the data collection is accurate, how will the government use such information to direct or thwart future behavior? Police algorithms that predict who is likely to become a criminal are not open to public scrutiny, nor are statistics that would show whether crime or terrorism has grown or diminished.
“It’s not the technology that created the policies, but technology greatly expands the kinds of data that the Chinese government can collect on individuals,” says Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute and the author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers.
The Xinjiang government employed a private company to design the predictive algorithms that assess various data streams.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany”

The remains of the oldest public library in Germany, a building erected almost two millennia ago that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, have been discovered in the middle of Cologne.
“They are very particular to libraries – you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.”
It is not clear how many scrolls the library would have held, but it would have been “Quite huge – maybe 20,000”, said Schmitz.
The building would have been slightly smaller than the famed library at Ephesus, which was built in 117 AD. He described the discovery as “Really incredible – a spectacular find”.
“It dates from the middle of the second century and is at a minimum the earliest library in Germany, and perhaps in the north-west Roman provinces,” he said.
“Perhaps there are a lot of Roman towns that have libraries, but they haven’t been excavated. If we had just found the foundations, we wouldn’t have known it was a library. It was because it had walls, with the niches, that we could tell.”
The building would have been used as a public library, Schmitz said.
The walls will be preserved, with the three niches to be viewable by the public in the cellar of the Protestant church community centre, which is currently being built.

The orginal article.

Summary of “No, private schools aren’t better at educating kids than public schools. Why this new study matters.”

Despite evidence showing otherwise, it remains conventional wisdom in many parts of the education world that private schools do a better job of educating students, with superior standardized test scores and outcomes.
The results confirm what earlier research found but are especially important amid a movement to privatize public education – encouraged by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – based in part on the faulty assumption that public schools are inferior to private ones.
DeVos has called traditional public schools a “Dead end” and long supported the expansion of voucher and similar programs that use public money for private and religious school education.
The new study was conducted by Robert C. Pianta, dean of U-Va.’s Curry School of Education and a professor of education and psychology, and Arya Ansari, a postdoctoral research associate at U-Va.’s Center for Advanced Study for Teaching and Learning.
“So when you first look, without controlling for anything, the kids who go to private schools are far and away outperforming the public school kids. And as soon as you control for family income and parents’ education level, that difference is eliminated completely.”
“In short, despite the frequent and pronounced arguments in favor of the use of vouchers or other mechanisms to support enrollment in private schools as a solution for vulnerable children and families attending local or neighborhood schools, the present study found no evidence that private schools, net of family background, are more effective for promoting student success.”
Pianta and Ansari note in the study that previous research on the impact of school voucher programs “Cast doubt on any clear conclusion that private schools are superior in producing student performance.”
A 2013 book, “The Public School Advantage,” by Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, describes the results of a look at two huge data sets of student mathematics performance, that found public school students outperform private school ones when adjusted for demographics.

The orginal article.

Summary of “3 Public Speaking Tips Inspired by Stand-Up Comedy”

In addition to presenting in my classes, I typically give a talk per week in front of groups.
If you give a bad talk, you worry that the stench of that talk will stick to you for the rest of your life.
Your audience will forget most of your talk soon after you give it.
Once you realize that the downside of speaking is really not so bad, it gets easier to give talks.
Work It Out on the Road. Once you start giving public talks, you’re likely to speak on the same topic several times.
Take advantage of opportunities to give several talks on the same topic.
Your talks should get better over time not only because you are more practiced at giving them but also because you have edited them based on feedback.
In my book Smart Thinking, I talk about the observation that people remember roughly three things about any experience they have.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Venmo: how the payment app exposes our private lives”

Anyone can track a Venmo user’s purchase history and glean a detailed profile – including their drug deals, eating habits and arguments – because the payment app lacks default privacy protections.
By accessing the data through a public application programming interface, Do Thi Duc was able to see the names of every user who hadn’t changed their settings to private, along with the dates of every transaction and the message sent with the payment.
This allowed her to explore the lives of unsuspecting Venmo users and learn “An alarming amount about them”.
Do Thi Duc showcases the level of personal data exposed through Venmo through her project website “Public by Default”, named because when anyone makes a payment through the app, it is public unless that person has locked down their privacy settings.
“Venmo is an unusual app because it combines social media with financial transactions,” said the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Christine Bannon.
Do Thi Duc hopes her project encourages people to change the settings of Venmo transactions to make them private by default.
“If you’re not a Venmo user, I hope you can look at this project and wonder about all the other platforms you have used,” she said.
“Our users trust us with their money and personal information, and we take this responsibility and applicable privacy laws very seriously. Like on other social networks, Venmo users can choose what they want to share on the Venmo public feed.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Let’s make private data into a public good”

All are designed to maximize the advantages of sticking with Google: if you don’t have a Gmail address, you can’t use Google Hangouts.
The bulk of Google’s profits come from selling advertising space and users’ data to firms.
Let’s not forget that a large part of the technology and necessary data was created by all of us.
The low tax rates that technology companies are typically paying on these large rewards are also perverse, given that their success was built on technologies funded and developed by high-risk public investments: if anything, companies that owe their fortunes to taxpayer-funded investment should be repaying the taxpayer, not seeking tax breaks.
Measuring the value of a company like Google or Facebook by the number of ads it sells is consistent with standard neoclassical economics, which interprets any market-based transaction as signaling the production of some kind of output-in other words, no matter what the thing is, as long as a price is received, it must be valuable.
There is indeed no reason why the public’s data should not be owned by a public repository that sells the data to the tech giants, rather than vice versa.
The key issue here is not just sending a portion of the profits from data back to citizens but also allowing them to shape the digital economy in a way that satisfies public needs.
Mariana Mazzucato is a professor in the economics of innovation and public value at University College London, where she directs the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why we may never know if British troops committed war crimes in Iraq”

The collapse of Ihat seems likely to mark the end of serious attempts to investigate alleged crimes by British soldiers in Iraq, leaving questions about the scale of abuses and accountability unanswered.
One of the central questions raised by Ihat is who, ultimately, is responsible for crimes committed by British personnel in war? Individual service personnel bear criminal responsibility for crimes they commit in war, such as murdering civilians or torturing prisoners.
If it didn’t, Britain and the politicians and generals in power at the time of the Iraq war might have a case to answer in the ICC. The view within government under Labour, when Ihat was set up, was that it would show Britain was taking responsibility by punishing the worst cases of abuse, while simultaneously proving that there were relatively few serious incidents.
Initially, Ihat’s investigative team were mostly drawn from a branch of the British military police that had been active in Iraq during the occupation.
As the verdict in another inquiry into alleged crimes in Iraq became a national scandal, the controversy engulfed Ihat.
Although the al-Sweady case was separate to Ihat, in retrospect it is clear that the judgment marked the beginning of the end for Ihat – and helped transform the public conversation about British military conduct in Iraq.
“It’s all been vague and incomprehensible. The Iraqi courts have no authority over the British, while reaching British courts presents obstacles like language, visas and people’s ignorance. Ihat followed up some cases but failed to achieve justice.”
Ministers in successive governments had hoped Ihat would finally put to bed the idea that British troops committed widespread abuses against civilians in Iraq.

The orginal article.

Summary of “We can’t forget about mass transit when we talk about the ‘future of transportation'”

For an event that was supposed to be about the “Future of transportation,” and part of a broader week-long festival about the “Future of everything,” it was oddly focused on personal – not public – transportation.
Typically, public transportation involves citywide systems that are complex and require a lot of money to be operated.
Fixing public transportation requires cooperation, planning, and the acceptance of the community.
Co/THHGntRMjC.- The New York Times May 12, 2018 Another problem, perhaps, is that the best ideas for improving public transportation are simply not flashy.
Neither does mobile ticketing, which seems like something that could have been widely implemented years ago, but has still not been adopted by some of the biggest transportation systems in the world.
It’s just not as exciting a solution as “Self-driving cars.” So if we’re going to have to drag our cities into the future, we need to be vigilant in remembering public transportation when we talk about the flashy stuff.
You can argue with the companies methods for expansion so far – and many are – but at least CEO Toby Sun mentioned public transportation.
The most salient point about public transportation came from someone who was showing off a product that isn’t even meant to move people: Sasha Hoffman, the COO of Piaggio Fast Forward, a robotics wing of Italian scooter giant Piaggio.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Who should hold the keys to our data?”

Within 48 hours, the data had been turned from a pile of figures into a resource that could save lives and that could help people to pressure government to deal with black spots.
There is big data, personal data, open data, aggregate data and anonymised data.
The single thing that every citizen and every corporate decision-maker needs to understand is that the enormous data stores that government, government agencies, corporations, trusts and individuals hold are as much a key part of national and international infrastructure as the road network.
Several companies have practical designs that offer each individual their own data account, on a cloud independent of any agency or commercial organisation.
The data would be unreadable as a whole to anyone other than the individual owner, who would allow other people access to selected parts of it, at their own discretion.
There are real gains to be made if citizens hold their own data and huge organisations don’t.
Yes, yes, the spooks and cops want to keep their own files about terrorists and not discuss the morals of data retention much with the lucky names on the list, and we are perfectly happy with that.
The central requirement is that, if you own a car, that fact and details of your car must be in your data store, whether you like it or not; authorised agencies must be able to look simultaneously at everyone’s store, to find a car they are interested in and must be able to do it without you knowing.

The orginal article.