TNR Gets Slightly Interesting, Act.ly Sprouts Wings

Below are some notes on links that have caught my eye over the last couple of weeks. Please enjoy them.

– The New Republic has, somewhat surprisingly, published not one but two pieces that made it on my radar this week. (I say surprisingly because TNR almost never makes it out of the Beltway and into my general awarenesss; I don’t think I’m alone).

One was Jeffrey Rosen’s Net Cemetery, an excellent overview of Net Neutrality for noobs. Rosen focused on the Comcast case in which the FCC punished the telecom giant for blocking peer-to-peer activity on its network. That case is ongoing, so keep a lookout for it.

The other piece is a piece against transparency (you read that right), by none other than Lawrence Lessig, who argues that the movement for transparency in government might not be the panacea it purports to be.

Here’s the setup:

These [transparency in government] projects assume that they are seeking an obvious good. No doubt they will have a profound effect. But will the effect of these projects–at least on their own, unqualified or unrestrained by other considerations–really be for the good? Do we really want the world that they righteously envisage?

These are fine questions. Read on for Lessig’s answers. In short, Lessig fears that transparency will unleash more bad than good, mistaking “reform” for what is really best for the public.

If you want a shorter, more biblical version, try this.

– I cried with laughter while watching this video, which used Xtra Normal, software that lets you marry a script to animation. The video describes the encounter between a graphic designer and his client, from the designer’s POV. I can sympathize, though I wince at the thought of which side I’m usually on.

– A great article by Michael Tomasky about the rise of the conservatives Tea Partiers.  Lots of wisdom in there, and lots to be afraid of.

– Finally: can tweets change the world? If Jim Gilliam has anything to do about it, then maybe it can. My pal Nancy Scola describes the evolution of Gilliam’s act.ly — a wonderful Twitter petition site — and through an exhaustive list of usage scenarios and users, makes it clear that Gilliam’s idea is just now starting to sprout wings. Fly, little act.ly, fly.

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