Category Archives: journalism

When speech becomes text, what happens to writing?

downey

I successfully put down the baby for her late morning nap half an a hour ago. After running quietly around in sock feet trying to do things while she was out cold, I sat down to answer email and messages. As I entered this post into WordPress, she awoke again.)

It’s not easy to respond quickly and at volume using one hand or thumb, though I’ve gotten much better at both over the past five months with a baby daughter.

Over that time, I’ve been struck by how good the voice recognition in iOS on my iPhone has become. I’ve been able to successfully dictate a rough draft of a long article into the email interface and respond to any number of inbound inquiries that way.

That said, neither the soft keyboard nor voice-to-text on the device are a substitute yet for the 15″ keyboard in my MacBook Pro when I want to write at length.

It’s mostly a matter of numbers: I can still type away at more than eighty words per minute on the full-size keyboard, far faster than I can produce accurate text through any method on my smartphone.

Capturing and sharing anything other than text on the powerful device, however, has become trivially easy, from images to video to audio recordings.

The process of “writing” has long since escaped the boundaries of tabulas, slate and papyrus, moving from pens and paper to explode onto typewriters, personal computers and tablets.

Today, I’m thinking about how the bards of today will  be able to reclaim the oldest form of storytelling — the spoken word — and apply it in a new context.

As we enter the next decade of rapidly improving gestural and tactile interfaces for connected mobile devices, I wonder how long until the generations that preceded me will be able to leave decades of experience with keyboards behind and simply speak naturally to connected devices to share what they thinking or seeing with family, friends and coworkers.

Economist Paul Krugman seemed to be thinking about something similar this morning, in a blog post on “techno-optimism”, when he commented on the differences between economic and technological stagnation:

…I know it doesn’t show in the productivity numbers yet, but anyone who tracks technology has a strong sense that something big has been happening the past few years, that seemingly intractable problems — like speech recognition, adequate translation, self-driving cars, etc. — are suddenly becoming tractable. Basically, smart machines are getting much better at interacting with the natural environment in all its complexity. And that suggests that Skynet will soon kill us all a real transformative leap is somewhere over the horizon, maybe not this decade, but this generation.

Still, what do I know? But Brynjolfsson and McAfee have a new book — not yet out, but I have a manuscript — making this point with many examples and a lot of analysis.

There remain big questions about how the benefits of this technological surge, if it’s coming, will be distributed. But I think this kind of thing has to be taken into account when we try to imagine the future; I’m a great Gordon admirer, but his techniques necessarily involve extrapolating from the past, and aren’t well suited to picking up what could be a major inflection point.

That future feels much closer this morning.

[Image Credit: Navneet Alang, "Sci-Fi Fantasies, Real-Life Disappointments"]

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Apple releases first transparency report on government requests for user data

Apple, one of the least transparent companies in the world, has released a transparency report on government requests for user data.(PDF). Requests from the United States of America dwarf the rest of the world — and that’s without including the ones that Apple cannot tell us about, due to gag orders and National Security Letters.

apple-transparency-table

Notably, Apple has indicated that it will join other tech companies in seeking the ability to disclose such requests:

“We believe that dialogue and advocacy are the most productive way to bring about a change in these policies, rather than filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government. Concurrent with the release of this report, we have filed an Amicus brief at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) in support of a group of cases requesting greater transparency. Later this year, we will file a second Amicus brief at the Ninth Circuit in support of a case seeking greater transparency with respect to National Security Letters. We feel strongly that the government should lift the gag order and permit companies to disclose complete and accurate numbers regarding FISA requests and National Security Letters. We will continue to aggressively pursue our ability to be more transparent.”

Apple did break new ground with the report, as FT reporter Tim Bradshaw observed: it was the first to disclose requests for device data.

device-data-requst

The U.S. government leads the rest of the world in device data requests by law enforcement as well, though not by as wide a margin: Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Germany have all made more than 1000 requests, according to the disclosure.

Be careful about what you put in that iCloud, folks.

Apple’s transparency report ends with an interesting footnote: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

For those unfamiliar with that part of the law, it has been the subject of intense criticism for years from privacy and civil liberties advocates, particularly since the disclosures of mass surveillance of U.S. telecomm data by the NSA entered the public sphere this past summer.

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What went wrong at Healthcare.gov?

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Folks, I’m going to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Monday and need your help.

1) What are the best explanations of what went wrong at Healthcare.gov? This digest by Charles Ornstein is a start but I’d love more.

2) What are the best papers you’ve read about federal contracting? Where would you point people to understand how contracting works, why there are so many rules about how technology can be acquired and how this system needs to change/is changing?

Who do you think has best answered the question of “what went wrong at Healthcare .gov” amongst the national media and expert technologists?

In addition to the links above , I’d add:

What else should people read?

12/1/2013 Update: After two months of intense scrutiny, the tensions and troubles behind Healthcare.gov have been well-documented by investigative journalists at The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica and NPR News.

No single issue led to the Healthcare.gov’s failure at relaunch on October 1. Rather, a combination of procurement problems, poor work by a key contractor, bad management skills, insularity and political sensitivity led to a bug-laden website with a broken backend.

How well is Healthcare.gov working today? Better, at least on the front-end, as detailed in an operational progress report released on December 1st. Lost in that update on the administration’s “big fix, however, was a detail released in a December 2nd post on improved window shopping at Healthcare.gov, published on the Department of Health and Human Services blog (emphasis is mine):

Over the last several weeks, we’ve made a number of changes to improve the accuracy of the “834” messages to issuers. The team, working with issuers, determined that more than 80 percent of 834 production errors were due to a bug that prevented a Social Security number from being included in the application, which in turn caused the system not to generate an 834. That bug has been fixed. Other issues related to the remaining 834 production issues have either been fixed or are in testing so that the fixes can be deployed soon.

In other words, when the Healthcare.gov marketplace launched, a single programming error meant that enrollment data being sent to insurers was invalid. That’s not just a bug: it’s a fundamental shortfall in meeting the requirements for a functional software application of this sort.

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Al Jazeera America bets on an American audience for serious journalism

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I’m watching the launch of Al Jazeera America here in DC, on Channel 107*. (No HD in this media market, from what I can tell.) It’s the biggest launch in broadcast media since Fox News, in 1996, and in media since Politico, in 2007.

Goodbye Current TV, hello Al Jazeera America.

It remains to be seen whether Americans will tune into to a 24-hour news channel that is, like Brian Stelter notes in his piece on Al Jazeera America’s approach to the news, something akin to a journalism professor’s dream, with 14 hours of news daily, documentaries and an aspiration to cover all of the U.S.A. Andrew Beaujon wrote a good primer on the Al Jazeera America launch over at Poynter, from its hiring to its talent to the big question about whether people want straight news.

At launch, I’m optimistic about Al Jazeera America’s programming, at least based upon my experience appearing on Al Jazeera English this winter. From data mining the U.S. election to covering the debates online, I met bright, professional journalists who demonstrated humor, integrity, a commitment to high standards, both technically and editorially, and a willingness to experiment with the incredible new tools that now exist for newsgathering and publishing.

I’ve long since accepted, however, that I may be an outlier in some ways. There are no shortage of Americans who watch and criticize media in 2013. Given 8 hours/day of television and the ease of a tweet or a Facebook update about what we’re watching, we’re all amateur media critics now. The fraction of that viewership who will shift their habits and tune into another channel for this kind of serious journalism isn’t something we know yet.

The modern information diet includes a huge amount of infotainment, advertorial, sports, reality TV and partisan opinion shows. When the ratings come in for Al Jazeera America, six months from now, we’ll have more of a sense of whether there is an audience for this kind of approach and programming, and what that says about us as a people.

I’ll be watching.

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Under pressure, Twitter prepares to extend reporting abuse to all users

Under increased scrutiny, Twitter will be extending the ability to report tweets to all of its hundreds of millions of active users around the world.

A statement from Twitter, emailed to the BBC and GigaOm, urged users to report abusive behavior and violations of the relevant policy and Twitter Rules using an online form and shared plans to “bring the functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web.” Twitter hasn’t shared timelines for that extension yet, but aggrieved users in Britain and beyond should gain the ability to flag tweets with a couple of taps eventually.

report-tweet-button

Twitter users have been able to report violations and abuse for years, with decisions by the service’s Safety team as tickets or law enforcement interest comes in. Twitter’s Safety team, headed by Del (@delbius) Harvey, has been quietly, professionally handling the ugly side for many years.

Adding reporting to individual tweets, however, is a relatively new change that was not announced on the Twitter blog or through the @Safety or @Support accounts.

Here are the relevant details from Twitter’s FAQ:

You can report Tweets that are in violation of the Twitter Rules or our Terms of Service. This includes spam, harassment, impersonation, copyright, or trademark violations. You can report any Tweet on Twitter, including Tweets in your home timeline, the Connect or Discover tabs, or in Twitter Search.

To report a Tweet:

  • Navigate to the Tweet you’d like to report.
  • Tap the ••• icon to bring up the off-screen menu.
  • Select Report Tweet and then one of the options below.
  • Select Submit (or Next if reporting abuse; see below for details) or Cancel to complete the report or block the user.

Reporting options:

Spam: this is the best option for reporting users who are using spam tactics. Please reference the Twitter Rules for information about some common spam techniques, which include mass creation of accounts for abusive purposes, following a large number of users in a short time, and sending large numbers of unsolicited @replies.
Compromised: if you think the user’s account has been compromised, and they are no longer in control of their account, select this option, and we will follow up with them to reset their password and/or take other appropriate actions.
Abusive: for other types of violations, including harassment, copyright or trademark violations, and impersonation, select this option. When you select “Next’”, you’ll be taken to a form where you can complete and submit your report to Twitter.
Block account: instead of reporting a user, you can select this option to block the user. If you block a user, they will not be allowed to follow you or add you to lists, and you won’t see any interactions with the user in your Connect tab.

Icebergs ahead

Twitter has successfully scaled the ability to flag media to all of its users. They’ve kept the Fail Whale from surfacing by vastly increasing the capacity of the service to handle billions of tweets and surges in use during major events. They’ve already rolled out tweet reporting to Twitter to iPhone users. Now, they’ll simplify reporting of abuse tweets for everyone.

There may be hidden tradeoffs in adding this function, as Staci Kramer pointed out on Twitter: previously available options, like “tweet link,” “mail link” and “read later” aren’t in the new version of Twitter’s iOS app.

What may prove more difficult than adding this function to other official apps and the Web, however, will be adding the human capacity to adjudicate decisions to suspend or restore accounts.

Twitter will be doing it under increasing scrutiny and a fresh wave of critics who are taking the company to task for being slow to respond to threats and abuse. More than 18,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org demanding that Twitter provide a an abuse reporting button. The petition was filed after a stream of rape threats were directed at Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter for 48 hours.

Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist and self-described feminist campaigner, was in the public eye because of her successful efforts to keep pictures of women on paper money. She began receiving abusive tweets on the day that the Bank of England announced that author Jane Austen would appear on its newly designed £10 note.

The signatories on the petition were asking for a function that already exists for the millions of Twitter users that access the service on an iPhone, as the head of the social networking service’s United Kingdom office tweeted earlier today, responding to heated criticism in the British press.

To mollify critics and offer a users a better experience, Twitter staff will need to proactively detect waves of abuse, aided by algorithms and adjudication systems, and make judgements about whether tweets break its stated policies or represent threats that must be reported to law enforcement.

“I don’t know what proportion of posts are abusive, nor do I know the volume of complaints handled by Twitter staff and their response time, which are obvious factors in how and when abuse reports are handled,” commented veteran journalist Saleem Khan. “If there’s a problem with complaint-handling, Twitter needs to examine its processes and staffing. That said, if abuse and/or non-responsiveness by staff are perceived to be a problem, then it is a problem.”

To state the obvious, this will be an ongoing headache for Twitter.

Like other social media companies, Twitter has been navigating deep, troubled currents of censorship, privacy and suspensions in recent years.

Creating systems that offer fair, efficient moderation and adjudication of reports is a conundrum that code alone may not be able to solve. That challenge is extended by the presence of organized campaigns of humans and bots that game governance systems by flagging users en masse as spammers, leading to suspensions.

That may well mean that Twitter, like other social networks with millions of users, will need to expand its safety team and train the rest of its public-facing employees to act as ad hoc ombudsmen and women, as aggrieved users inevitably turn their ire upon staff using the network. They’re well positioned to do so, perhaps better than any other social network, but the service is inevitably going to face tough decisions as it operates in countries do not have legal protections for freedom of expression or the press.

As Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan Zuckerman and others have highlighted, what we think of as the new public square online is owned and operated by private companies that are setting the terms and conditions for expression and behavior on them. Giving users the capacity to report abuse, fraud or copyright infringement is a natural feature for any major website or service but it comes with new headaches. If Twitter is to go public, however, it will need to develop more matures to handle being a platform for the public.

“The question remains,” commented Khan: “What rights and powers do we delegate to private, for-profit, unregulated platforms that increasingly mediate the majority of our discourse, and where is the line that we draw in that deal?”


Editor’s Note: I sent Twitter a series of questions regarding the new reporting function on Sunday morning. On Sunday night, Twitter declined to comment further than the statement they have released. On Monday afternoon, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded to tweeted queries. Following are the questions I posed over email. If you have answers, feel free to comment or contact me.

When was this added? Was there an official blog post or tweets from staff, @safety and @support about it?

What’s the timeline for it rolling out to all users? Will Twitter for Windows and BlackBerry and get it?

Will it be added to the API, so that TweetBot and TweetDeck users, along with other clients, can use it after updates?

Will Twitter increase staffing at Safety and Support to handle an increase in reports? To what levels?

Will there be designated ombudsmen or women?

Will there be any transparency into the number of tickets received regarding abuse or someone’s status in the queue?

Will Twitter release aggregate data of abuse (or spam) flagging? How will Twitter deal with false positives or organized/automated campaigns to flag users or tweets?

Will there be any consequences for users that repeatedly abuse the ability to flag people or tweets for abuse?


Postscript

On August 3, Twitter responded with an update to its rules to help address abusive behavior, including extra staff to handle abuse reports.

“It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter,” said Twitter’s UK lead Tony Wang and Del Harvey, senior director for trust and safety, in a blog post.

We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter Rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable.”

The updated rules apply globally. “As described in the blog post, this was a clarification of existing rules — we discussed harassment in our help center in connection with abuse, but this makes it explicit in the rules as well,” said Twitter communication lead Jim Prosser, reached by email.

Wang also tweeted an apology to the women who have been targeted by abuse on Twitter.

“I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through,” he said. “The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter.”

So yes, there are limits to free speech on Twitter.

What are they? Well, that’s the sticky wicket. The updated rules now include a section that Harvey said already existed. Twitter “actually always had that as a note on our abusive behavior policy page; we just added it directly to the rules,” she tweeted.

Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are:
*if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
*if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
*if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats

This was “no real addition, just [a] clarification,” tweeted Harvey. “Twitter “just added the explicit callout to our preexisting policy under the abuse & spam section.”

There is no functional difference in how Twitter’s Safety team will now assess abuse reports, she further clarified.

“We’ve been working on making the reporting process easier for users & clarifying our policies.”

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In defense of Twitter’s role as a social media watchdog

Mike Rosenwald is concerned that overzealous critics will make Twitter boring.

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Rosenwald, who has distinguished himself in articles and excellent enterprise reporting at the Washington Post, appears to have strayed into a well-trodden cul de sac of social media criticism.

Writing in the Post, he quotes from series of sources and highlights a couple of Twitter users to arrive at a grand thesis: online mobs taking tweets out of context could chill speech. Rosenwald’s point was amplified by Politico chief economic correspondent Ben White, whose tweet is embedded below:

When I went to grab the embed code for the tweet above, however, I found something curious: I couldn’t generate it. Why? After I strongly but politely challenged White’s point twice on Twitter, he’d blocked me.

Here’s what I said: I am disappointed that the democratization of publishing and speech continues to be resented by the press. Celebrities, media and politicians will be criticized online by the public for inaccuracy and bias. It’s not 1950 anymore. And for that, a journalist blocked me.

Irony aside, I wish White hadn’t taken the nuclear option. I’m no absolutist: when George Packer slammed Twitter 3 years ago, I suggested that he take another look at what was happening there:

Twitter, like so many other things, is what you make of it. Some might go to a cocktail party and talk about fashion, who kissed whom, where the next hot bar is or any number of other superficial topics. Others might hone in on politics, news, technology, media, art, philosophy or any of the other subjects that the New Yorker covers. If you search and listen, it’s not hard to find others sharing news and opinion that’s relevant to your own interests.

Using intelligent filters for information, it’s quite easy to subscribe and digest them at leisure. And it’s as easy as unfollowing someone to winnow out “babble” or a steady stream of mundanity. The impression that one is forced to listen to pabulum, as if obligated to sit through a dreary dinner party or interminable plane ride next to a boring boor, is far from the reality of the actual experience of Twitter or elsewhere.

Packer clearly read my post but didn’t link or reply to it.

Given his public persona, I suspect Rosenwald will be much more open to criticism than Packer or White have proven to be, although I see he hasn’t waded into the vitriolic comments on his story at the Washington Post, which slam Twitter or the article — or both. Here’s what I’ve seen other journalists and Twitter users tweet about the piece:

For my part, I tend to lean towards more speech, not less. Twitter has given millions of people a voice around the world, including the capacity to scrutinize the tweets of members of the media for inaccuracy, bias or ignorance.

That’s not to say that a networked public can’t turn to an online mob and engage in online vigilantism, but the causality that Politico chief White House correspondent Mike Allen trumpeted regarding Twitter use in yesterday’s Playbook was painful to read on Saturday morning.

Twitter makes people online vigilantes? Come on. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and other social media platforms have taken nearly all of the friction out of commenting on public affairs but it’s up to people to decide what to do with them.

As we’ve seen during natural disasters and revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa, including protests in Turkey this weekend, an increasingly networked public is now acting as reporters and sensors wherever and whenever they are connected, creating an ad hoc system of accountability for governments and filling the gaps where mainstream media outlets are censored or fear to tread.

That emergence still strikes me as positive, on balance, and while I acknowledge the point that White and the sources that Rosenwald quotes make about the potential for self-censorship, I vastly prefer the communications systems of today to the one-to-many broadcasts from last century. If you feel differently, comments — and Twitter — are open.

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Jake Tapper honors veterans with a #MemorialMessage

CNN anchor Jake Tapper has long been adept with online media, going back to his work at Salon.com. On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Tapper showed how powerful a platform Twitter can be for collective remembrance when he catalyzed an outpouring of family memories from his followers.
  1. Tapper introduced the premise to his followers with a single tweet, sharing a hashtag, #MemorialMesssage, to organize the replies and modeling the response himself.
  2. Our hashtag game today is for those who serve. Send us your Memorial Day message. Mine? Thank you. We will not forget. Use #MemorialMessage
  3. Tapper received just one reply, at first.
  4. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage Remembering Captain Jeb Franklin Seagle a dear friend and hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in Grenada.
  5. Then he came back to Twitter, and shared more personal remembrances of those who served.
  6. This Memorial Day weekend i’ll be thinking about fallen heroes such as Lt. Col. Joe Fenty, Lt. Ben Keating, and Capt. Tom Bostick.
  7. RIP heroes of COP Keating: Kevin Thomson, Justin Gallegos, Chris Griffin, Michael Scusa, Vernon Martin, Stephan Mace, Josh Kirk, Josh Hardt.
  8. RIP this Memorial Day to Captain Robert Yllescas.
  9. Another fallen soldier I will be thinking about this weekend, PFC Chris Pfeifer projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  10. And Pfc. Brian Moquin, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2006 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-pfc…
  11. And SSG Ryan Fritsche sites.google.com/site/wryanfrit…
  12. And SGT Buddy Hughie projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sgt…
  13. More of his followers began chiming in — and Tapper began retweeting their memories of fallen service members to his more than 1 million followers
  14. @jaketapper CPL Robert Taylor McDavid KIA March 10, 2008. OIF. My brother-in-law.
  15. @jaketapper I’ll remember CTO2 Steve TESMER the sole operator type on board the EC121 shot down by NK in 68. my room mate and friend
  16. @jaketapper My daddy 1SGT Robert Scholz Died 2/7/2010 Served Vietnam and Korea twice each. Not in action but served our country for 20 yrs.
  17. @jaketapper Remembering Maj Charles Creech who passed away 2yrs. Ago after a distinguished career flying for the US Air Force. Dear friend!
  18. @jaketapper My great-uncle, MAJ Stanley Holmes, US Army, POW in Philippines during WWII, killed aboard the hellship Oryoku Maru, 12-15-44
  19. Thank you to my late grandfathers John A Petersen, Harry Gabbard #wwiiVets #memorialmessage @jaketapper
  20. @jaketapper CPT David Boris … Commander, A TRP 1/91 CAV, 12 Nov 2007
  21. .@jaketapper My wife’s bro, @USArmy Cpt Shane Mahaffee passed in ’06. 4 mournful Mondays in a row: death, burial, Memorial Day, b’day. #hero
  22. @jaketapper My Uncle, Maj. Kenneth P. Tanner. Killed In Vietnam in last major battle, Operation Ripcord. Left 4 children behind.
  23. .@jaketapper I’m remembering LT John Valek, USN. Served ’38-’52 – WW2/Korea. Survived the sinking of the USS Wasp in ’42. Passed in 2000 RIP
  24. @jaketapper Two Flight School classmates. ENS Ryan Anthony USN, LTJG Robert Roch, USN. Great friends.
  25. @jaketapper Sgt. Josh Madden, December 6, 2006, Hawija, Iraq.
  26. @jaketapper SSG Lillian Clamens. Saddest one I ever encountered. She was leaving the next day. 10/10/07 projects.militarytimes.com/valor/army-sta…
  27. @jaketapper I’m remembering my grandfather, Raymond Sanfilippo, who served on the USS Lake Champlain during WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  28. @jaketapper My Dad, Sgt William Lieder, served in US Army & Navy. Saw action in Korean War. Said he never should have left service, loved it
  29. @jaketapper Remembering Jerry Zovko. Killed in Fallujah. Still angry.
  30. @jaketapper RIP Jack Thurston-Bataan Death March survivor POW til MacArthur liberated-renaissance man from Corbin,KY #memorialmessage
  31. @jaketapper #memorialmessage Remembering my late Grandfather Edward and late Uncle Ricky; Ed – WWII, Marine Corps. Ricky – Korea, Air Force
  32. @jaketapper My father, SFC. Benjamin Davis Sr. US Army. 30yrs. WW2 Vietnam
  33. @jaketapper Specialist Theodore Matthew Glende – K.I.A. July 27, 2012 in Afghanistan. (23 years old. Husband of my best friend.)
  34. @jaketapper CPL Pruitt Rainey, 173rd ABCT, Chosen Company. One of 9 US KIA 7/13/08 at the Battle of Wanat. #ChosenFew
  35. @jaketapper my bro 1stLT Travis Manion USMC and his best friend SEAL Brendan Looney. Buried next to each other in Arlington. @TMFoundation
  36. @jaketapper My grandfather: Lt. Col. LeRoy Skaith. Passed in 1997. Bronze Stars WWII: Battle of Hurtgen Forest and Battle of the Bulge
  37. @jaketapper Uncle Al, 1st infantry division, Normandy, the Bulge, Germany
  38. @jaketapper My “Grandpop” Lt Walter Catanzarita. Wounded WWII, passed 1980.
  39. @jaketapper CIA Paramilitary Officer & former USMC Johnny Spann, KIA 11/25/01, Qala-I-Jangi, Afghan;1st KIA in country & a great guy. RIP
  40. @jaketapper RIP Jimmie “Sonny” Davis…Korean Conflict
  41. @jaketapper Remembering my great grandpa, Jesus Briseno – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. RIP.
  42. @jaketapper my grandfather, SSgt James Reynolds, 3rd US Army, Battle of the Bulge
  43. @jaketapper I’ll be remembering my friend, Capt Matthew Mattingly, Army 82nd Airborne, KIA in Iraq, 9/13/2006
  44. @jaketapper #memorialmessage remembering my CA grandpa, Captn (marines) WWII-Pacific & the brave woman he wrote love letters to back home.
  45. @jaketapper Remembering my Great Uncle, Salvatore Sanfilippo, Purple Heart recipient, Battle of the Bulge, WWII. #MemorialDayHeroes
  46. @jaketapper My Uncle Billy Knight, who died in ’82 from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Our memories are warm & vibrant.
  47. @jaketapper Spc Ross McGinnis, December, 4 2006 – Medal of Honor
  48. @jaketapper Remembering my dad. He was so proud to have served in the Navy in WW2. Love you, Daddy, and thank you. #MemorialMessage
  49. .@jaketapper Anthony Marangiello, Glen Cove, NY. Bataan Death March, WWII. Came back with the respect of all. #memorialday
  50. @jaketapper H.S. classmate Lance Cpl. Howard March killed in Iraq 9/24/06
  51. @jaketapper TY for sharing all these memories, very powerful. My late grandfather served in WW2. Father-in-law served in USN Korea(surgeon)
  52. @jaketapper Remembering my grandpa, James C. Evans – Navy – Pearl Harbor survivor. #memorialday
  53. @jaketapper RIP my grandpa Robert W. English. Navy. Battle of Midway survivor. 1918-2013
  54. @jaketapper CW4 Phil Garvey died flying a rescue mission that wasn’t supposed to be his.He volunteered so pilots w young kids didn’t have to
  55. @jaketapper remembering my Pappy: James I “Jack” Martin. Combat Medic, US Army WWII – Pelilieu and other hot rocks. Never talked about it.
  56. @jaketapper : I honor Lance Cpl Bob W. Roberts. Died OIF Fallujah. May 2004. Childhood friend.
  57. @jaketapper I #GoSilent for SSG Christopher Cutchall, KIA Baghdad Sept 2003. Best scout, wonderful father, husband, & friend ever.
  58. I’m remembering my grandpa, Carl Conrad, Army, WWII, both Pacific & European Theatres. @JakeTapper pic.twitter.com/CC9VJmgAK3
  59. @jaketapper Cpl George Anthony “Tony” Lutz II, killed December 29, 2005, 6 weeks into his first deployment.
  60. @jaketapper my great uncle Leslie Fleming 200th Coast Artillery. Survivor of the Bataan Death March.
  61. @jaketapper in memory of my grandfather, Hugo Smith, survived the Battle of the Bulge
  62. @jaketapper Remembering my grandmother Rifka Frank, Yeoman First class, enlisted May 1, 1918 WWI. 1900-1986.
  63. @jaketapper My dad – Army Air Corps Flight Engineer – China, Burma, India WWII. I still wear his wings as a bracelet. He died in 1990
  64. @jaketapper My mom Sgt. Ellen Shanahan, Women’s Army Corp, WWII. Very proud of her service.
  65. @jaketapper my dad, CWO Hank Meadows, Headquarters Company, 8th Air Force, Bushy Park, London, England
  66. @jaketapper remembering my father, Stanley Caplan, WWII 1922-2011
  67. @jaketapper : CPL Wesley Wells, 2-27th Infantry USA Libertyville,IL KIA Naka, Afghanistan 09/04 #memorialmessage
  68. @jaketapper Remembering my dad, Leslie N Webster, served in WWII with 535th Engineers building bridges. Miss you Dad.
  69. @jaketapper my father PFC John T Henley WW2 Mindinao Philippines. Henley Wilson Merrills marauders
  70. @jaketapper Remembering both my papaws & hubby’s grandad-all served our country. Grateful 4 & blessed because of their service @JustinDOwen
  71. At the end of that outpouring, Tapper signed off and suggested that his followers use the hashtag if they continue to share memories, sustaining the distributed conversation he’d sparked and empowered.
  72. Signing off now tweeps… Use #MemorialMessage if you tweet more remembrances so we can all follow by clicking on the hashtag… God bless
  73. And they did:
  74. @jaketapper #MemorialMessage thinking of Patrick V. Needham, #USArmy in Korea, 31 yrs #ChicagoPolice, passed away 1984, too young.
  75. @jaketapper Miss WWII dad; taught us 2 “police the area” -clean the yard & sing Army songs(Dirty Bill lived on Garbage Hill)#MemorialMessage
  76. This was one of the best uses of Twitter I’ve seen this year. Well done, Mr. Tapper.

    And thanks to all those who have served and sacrificed.

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Hi! Click here to stop from getting phished on Twitter

Today, Twitter finally started rolling out dual-factor authentication for its users. Twitter will allow users to use text messaging to a mobile phone to confirm their identity upon log-in.

In a post and accompanying video on the company blog, Twitter product security team member Jim O’Leary (@jimeo) explained how Twitter’s version of 2-factor authentication will work:

…when you sign in to twitter.com, there’s a second check to make sure it’s really you. After you enroll in login verification, you’ll be asked to enter a six-digit code that we send to your phone via SMS each time you sign in to twitter.com.

To get started, visit your account settings page, and select the option “Require a verification code when I sign in”. You’ll need a confirmed email address and a verified phone number. After a quick test to confirm that your phone can receive messages from Twitter, you’re ready to go.

Twitter has lagged behind Google, Microsoft, Facebook and institutions that allow online banking in providing this additional layer of protection. It’s showed: Twitter has been plagued by phishing scams for years.

Recently, however, high profile hacks of Twitter accounts at the Associated Press, the Financial Times and The Onion have put more focus on adding this feature. As Twitter adds more e-commerce deals and becomes more integrated into politics and business, improving security will only become more important.

Today’s announcement is a much-needed improvement. Here’s hoping it gets rolled out quickly to the hundreds of millions of users who can’t get someone at Twitter on the phone after they clicked on the wrong link.

Hat tip: The Verge

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On Corrections: Why fixing the rough draft of history matters

Last week, Slate published my article on a recent executive order on open data issued by President Obama. Unfortunately, it contained an error, which has since been corrected.
After an alert reader commented on the article, I responded with a clarification of the history. That didn’t address the integrity of the article itself, however, and since the editors had heard from another reader, I sent in a correction.
Unfortunately, I elided a rich and compelling history into a few short sentences and apologize for any misunderstanding that readers of the syndicated version may take away. I regret the error.
I ran the correction by Craig Silverman, of Poynter’s excellent “Regret the Error” blog, who generally gave high marks to the approach taken here and suggested that I tweet it out. (Done.)
For those interested in the backstory and some thoughts on corrections, read on.
Originally, the piece suggested that President John Quincy Adams agreed with Naval Observatory Superintendant Matthew Fontaine Maury about the importance of collecting and publishing astronomical data and implied that that the Naval Observatory was endowed after the publication of Maury’s book, in 1955.
Searching on the road, I found some useful history on John Quincy Adams, the Smithsonian bequest and the founding Naval Observatory. (Thank you, Google!) Here’s the correction I sent in:
While Adams signed a bill to create a national observatory before leaving office in 1829, it wasn’t until 1830 that a “Depot of Charts and Instruments” was created by the Secretary of the Navy. This eventually became the U.S. Naval Observatory, a decade later.
The institution was funded by Congress 1842, in no small part due to the efforts of President John Quincy Adams, who served for nearly two decades in Congress after he left the White House. Adams was perhaps the Naval Observatory’s strongest contemporary political supporter and spent considerable time there with Maury, looking up at the stars.
So, that’s the history, replete with interesting details (a former president …serving in Congress! Funding scientific research and infrastructure in the 19th century!) and retrieved from the side of the road using a mobile device and network that I imagine both Maury and Adams would marvel at on many levels.
If it seems like I’m taking extra time on this, understand that it’s because I believe corrections really matter. I’ve written thousands of articles and tens of thousands of tweets over the past 7 years, the vast majority of which haven’t needed to be fixed.
Whenever there has been an error of fact, omission, broken links or misattribution, I’ve been deeply grateful for alert readers who let me know via email, phone, tweets and comments about the issue. Online communities that care enough about the source material to comment are valuable, both on their own and to me.
I don’t like being wrong and, candidly, experience embarrassment or even shame when I err. When I do make mistakes — and it’s inevitable that it will happen — I appreciate hearing about error from the networks of people in my life and am glad to fix it. I hope that doing so builds trust, particularly at a time our faith in institutions of all sorts is at historic lows.
Please keep those corrections coming.

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Some context and perspective on open data journalism

This afternoon, I gave a talk on open data journalism at the Developing the Caribbean Conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona in Jamaica. The diGJamaica liveblog captured the discussion. Video may be available later. For now, my presentation is embedded below, with many links inside of it.

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