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ChicagoTalks Looks & Sees


Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, “Something pretty rare happened last week. City officials of Chicago got together with hackers from around the country to unveil a vastly better new online version of the Chicago City Code (via City of Chicago and public-spirited hackers unveil the Chicago City Code - Boing Boing)

Oh no…I just watched “Almost Human" and this sort of resonates with the two kinds of robots in that show.

A Roomba housecleaning robot committed suicide in Austria. Apparently the iRobot Roomba 760’s owner had put the machine on the counter to clean up spilled cereal. According to the fireman, the owner claims he had turned off the robot and left the house. “Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it,” the fireman said. It should come as no surprise that a robot slave would seek to end its miserable existence. After all, as JG Ballard once said, robots are the “moral degradation of the machine.” (via The Mirror) (via Robot servant commits suicide - Boing Boing)

And the NSA has a very direct answer for them: Tough luck, we’re not telling you. Americans are inundating the NSA with open-records requests, leading to an 888% increase in such inquiries in the past fiscal year. Anyone asking is getting a standard pre-written letter saying the NSA can neither confirm nor deny that any information has been gathered. “This was the largest spike we’ve ever had,” said Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, which handles all records requests to the agency. “We’ve had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that.” (via NSA grapples with huge increase in records requests)

On the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the Kennedy presidential library in Boston is bringing his presidency back to life in a new way — through tweets. Through a Twitter account, @Kennedy1961, the library will post the happenings of JFK’s thousand days in office as they unfolded, often in the president’s own words. (via The Conversation: JFK Library Shares John F. Kennedy Presidency on Twitter - ABC News)

The Financial Times and Next Media Animation also reported independently on the accusations of self-censorship. The Financial Times published what it said were excerpts from emails from top Bloomberg editors in New York to the reporters that expressed strong support for the story in September. An email dated Sept. 18 from Laurie Hays, a senior executive editor, said the story was “almost there.” An email nine days later from Jonathan Kaufman, a managing editor, said: “The story is terrific. I am in awe of the way you tracked down and deciphered the financial holdings and the players. It’s a real revelation. Looking forward to pushing it up the line.” (via Bloomberg News Suspends Reporter Whose Article on China Was Not Published -

“ There is a similar Twitter project culminating in tragedy this November — the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s @JFK_1963, which sends updates from the life of the former president. The project began with Kennedy’s election in 1960, and each year there has been a new Twitter feed filled with the events of his presidency. The periodic Kennedy intrusion into more than 20,000 Twitter timelines has helped keep him alive in people’s minds, said Rachel Flor, the director of communications at the library. “His words are really what resonate with people, and you can see that in the real-time responses to many of his speeches,” she said, as people comment about and retweet those lines. The tweets for Nov. 22, she said, have already been prepared and will be very different, relying on news reports, beginning with Kennedy’s landing in Dallas and concluding with the solemn words of Walter Cronkite pronouncing the president dead at approximately 2:35 p.m. Eastern time. “The tone is already there in their coverage,” Ms. Flor said. “We are not coming up with the lines ourselves — those old news clips and old news transcripts already have the urgency and solemn nature you would want. Walter Cronkite already captured the enormity of the event.” Unlike “live tweeting,” the practice of covering breaking news events via short updates on Twitter — whether the Boston Marathon bombings or Arab Spring protests — the Kristallnacht and JFK accounts have no erroneous reports that later need to be corrected, or, for that matter, raw, emotional outbursts. The voice in these posts is like the voice of God, or at least the voice of history or of Cronkite. ”

The departures have brought the Times face to face with a harsh reality: In the new media landscape, some journalists have become their own brands with followings and reputations that are not dependent on the “aura” of the paper of record. Some built their brands at the paper, but it does not necessarily have the resources or flexibility to keep them. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed competitors are willing to pay top dollar for top-flight talent — an issue many large media outlets, not just theTimes, are facing. (via Fit to sprint: Top talent exits New York Times - Dylan Byers -

These new-media ventures follow a typical pattern, one that Clay Christensen has described with respect to car makers: they start out looking cheap and irrelevant, or at least uncompetitive, like the early Honda and Hyundai cars did. Then, they move upscale and add more features, in the same way that The Huffington Post started hiring traditional journalists and then won a Pulitzer Prize, or the way BuzzFeed and Vice are hiring journalists now. The problem for traditional media outlets isn’t just that these new players are hiring away their existing and future journalists — it’s that they didn’t even notice they were becoming serious competitors until it was too late. (via Vice magazine and disruption in media: The next big thing always starts out looking like a toy — Tech News and Analysis)

Everything we do is about transparency, both inside the team and outside the team, every part of the process. If it’s scrumming every morning, our five-minute meeting, if it’s having weekly iteration reviews with our stakeholders—we take our software and we just walk around the newsroom and ask people to try it while we’re with them. I don’t want secret features that our stakeholders don’t know about, and I don’t want coders working on secret projects, and that’s what happens at most organizations is that every programmer has their own special itch to scratch and they just work on it and nobody knows about it. There are always interesting problems to solve, and we need to be marching together to solve them. And that means that sometimes we’re doing boring shit like…testing. But we launch. We always launch. (via NPR’s Brian Boyer on Building and Managing News Apps Teams - Features - Source: An OpenNews project)

Two of the more interesting changes to me come in the form of sensor enhancements. There is now an actual step detector / counter (essentially a digital pedometer), all wired through the new low-power / batching framework, which will hopefully increase battery life and give developers more options than ever on sensor input. (via The skinny on Android 4.4 KitKat - TechRepublic)