Data Harvesting at Google Not a Rogue Act, Report Finds

David Streitfield:

Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.

The report, prepared by the Federal Communications Commission after a 17-month investigation of Google’s Street View project, was released, heavily redacted, two weeks ago. Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000.

On Saturday, Google released a version of the report with only employees’ names redacted.

German Pirate Party Attempts to Reinvent Politics

Sven Becker, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Peter Müller, Marcel Rosenbach and Merlind Theile:

Germany’s Pirate Party has gone from a tiny group of hackers to a significant force in an astoundingly short amount of time. Its growing pains are obvious to all, but the party could succeed in fundamentally changing German politics. First it must agree on what it stands for.



Now she knows what it’s like. Now she knows what politics feels like. It can hurt, and it can be extremely draining. On Thursday evening, Marina Weisband decided she had had enough. She cancelled a television appearance and checked herself in to Berlin’s Charité Hospital feeling faint and dizzy.

By then Weisband, party manager of the Pirate Party, was already familiar with the new rigors of politics and the challenges presented by her own party. She had been in the eye of a shitstorm and had been rudely berated online, all because she had written things that others didn’t like.


Last Thursday evening Weisband, 24, became acquainted with the rigors of the old system. She was a guest on a talk show hosted by Michel Friedman, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who accused the Pirates of providing a political home to “Nazis, racists and anti-Semites” — about the worst possible insult in German politics.

Obama has held more re-election fundraisers than previous five Presidents combined as he visits key swing states on ‘permanent campaign’

Toby Harnden:

Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.

Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.

The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Nanotechnology: the final frontier

The Guardian:

Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. As technologies and techniques evolve, many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications may be developed, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. This website is dedicated to giving you information and news as it develops

With all this natural gas, who needs oil?

Alexandra Marks:

Neither do many others. Natural gas has suddenly become almost everyone’s favorite chassis for building an energy independent future. Many people on both sides of the drilling divide view the current abundance of the low-cost fuel as a “global game changer” – an energy source that will help wean the United States off Mideast oil, alter the nation’s foreign policy, spur jobs and boost the economy, and reduce greenhouse gases.

President Obama has pledged to “take every possible action to safely develop this energy.” Mitt Romney calls the domestic gas “a godsend.” Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, an early natural gas booster, contends it’s “obvious” that Washington should enact policies to encourage natural gas production and use throughout the economy.

“Do we have to take advantage of this?” asks Mr. Pickens, with his characteristic Texas Panhandle pragmatism. “Well, if you don’t, you’re going to go down in history as the biggest fools that ever came to town.”

How We Will Read: Social Reading

Sonia Saraiya:

What is the future of reading? How can we make it more social?

One of the things that bugs me about the Kindle Fire is that for all that I didn’t like the original Kindle, one of its greatest features was that you couldn’t get your email on it. There was an old saying in the 1980s and 1990s that all applications expand to the point at which they can read email. An old geek text editor, eMacs, had added a capability to read email inside your text editor. Another sign of the end times, as if more were needed. In a way, this is happening with hardware. Everything that goes into your pocket expands until it can read email.

But a book is a “momentary stay against confusion.” This is something quoted approvingly by Nick Carr, the great scholar of digital confusion. The reading experience is so much more valuable now than it was ten years ago because it’s rarer. I remember, as a child, being bored. I grew up in a particularly boring place and so I was bored pretty frequently. But when the Internet came along it was like, “That’s it for being bored! Thank God! You’re awake at four in the morning? So are thousands of other people!”

More from Tom Tunguz.

Google’s Dilemma

Om Malik:


“With ‘Don’t be evil,’ Google set itself up for accusations of hypocrisy anytime they got near the line. Now they are on the defensive, with their business undermined especially by Apple. When people are defensive they can do things that are emotional, not reasonable, and bad behavior starts.”

Roger McNamee, a longtime Silicon Valley investor whose investments include Facebook in The New York Times.

When companies get defensive, they do unnatural things, they lose their way. This deviation from tactics comes when companies find themselves facing market saturation at a time when consumer behaviors change. It is something I have learned from observing Silicon Valley giants closely for many years. Google is but the latest example.

The Rise of E-Reading

Lee Rainie, Kathryn Zickuhr, Kristen Purcell, Mary Madden and Joanna Brenner:

One-fifth of American adults (21%) report that they have read an e-book in the past year, and this number increased following a gift-giving season that saw a spike in the ownership of both tablet computers and e-book reading devices such as the original Kindles and Nooks.1 In mid-December 2011, 17% of American adults had reported they read an e-book in the previous year; by February, 2012, the share increased to 21%.

The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.

Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.2 Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work or school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general, often starting their search online.

Digital differences

Kathryn Zickuhr, Aaron Smith:

When the Pew Internet Project first began writing about the role of the internet in American life in 2000, there were stark differences between those who were using the internet and those who were not.1 Today, differences in internet access still exist among different demographic groups, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home. Among the main findings about the state of digital access:
  • One in five American adults does not use the internet. Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access.
  • Among adults who do not use the internet, almost half have told us that the main reason they don’t go online is because they don’t think the internet is relevant to them. Most have never used the internet before, and don’t have anyone in their household who does. About one in five say that they do know enough about technology to start using the internet on their own, and only one in ten told us that they were interested in using the internet or email in the future.
  • The 27% of adults living with disability in the U.S. today are significantly less likely than adults without a disability to go online (54% vs. 81%). Furthermore, 2% of adults have a disability or illness that makes it more difficult or impossible for them to use the internet at all.
  • Though overall internet adoption rates have leveled off, adults who are already online are doing more. And even for many of the “core” internet activities we studied, significant differences in use remain, generally related to age, household income, and educational attainment.