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How the NSA monitors America’s phone traffic

scoop from The Guardian confirmed what many people suspected—the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on the phone activity of millions of Americans. Using a secret court order, which was not disclosed to the public, the NSA obtained bulk phone records for Verizon’s customers on a daily basis. Each day, the NSA would receive a massive flood of data from Verizon.

How do they do it, and what can they do with the information? 

The White House is set to propose five executive actions and seven changes to legislation that will limit how patents can be abused by “trolls”.

The moves should make it harder for law suits to be brought by shell companies that hide the identity of the real patent owner, and also limit the filing of patents that are too broad in scope.

More

The open petition tool We the People is the single most effective attempt to engage the public by the White House under President Obama. It’s dead simple: create a petition on any topic you like: (“Legally Recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a Hate Group” has 356,860 signatures, while getting the president to do a coin toss at an Ultimate Frisbee game has 204). Collect enough signatures and the White House pledges an official response—even if your petition asks them to build a Star Wars-style Death Star.

Since We the People’s launch in 2009, 8.2 million users have contributed 13 million signatures on over 200,000 petitions. It’s a testament to the tool’s popularity that the threshold for triggering an official reply has been raised twice, from 5,000 to 25,000 to 100,000.

"It started because a lot of us had worked in online advocacy groups and saw a problem," says Macon Phillips, the White House Director of Digital Strategy. "There were many petitions out there, but the connection with the target wasn’t that strong."

Now the White House is opening up the We the People dialogue, with the official release today of a Read API that allows independent developers to create applications using petition data. On February 22, they held a hackathon in which developers from GitHub, Code for America, Blue State Digital, and more created apps like a Google alert-style petition tracker, and a mapper using zip codes provided by petition signers that shows how signatures spread across the country.

The White House Now Has Tumblr… 
The White House, Tumbling Things


"We see some great things here at the White House every day, and sharing that stuff with you is one of the best parts of our jobs. That’s why we’re launching a Tumblr. We’ll post things like the best quotes from President Obama, or video of young scientists visiting the White House for the science fair, or photos of adorable moments with Bo. We’ve got some wonky charts, too. Because to us, those are actually kind of exciting."

The White House Now Has Tumblr… 

The White House, Tumbling Things

"We see some great things here at the White House every day, and sharing that stuff with you is one of the best parts of our jobs. That’s why we’re launching a Tumblr. We’ll post things like the best quotes from President Obama, or video of young scientists visiting the White House for the science fair, or photos of adorable moments with Bo. We’ve got some wonky charts, too. Because to us, those are actually kind of exciting."

fastcodesign:

4 Things Obama Could Do To Foster America’s Creativity
When President Barack Obama takes the stage on Tuesday night to deliver his State of the Union address, he’ll attempt to take the pulse of the nation and prescribe a cure. His message is going to focus on the economy and helping the middle class. But his prescriptions, as leaked to the media, appear to be standard political fare—boost R&D, build infrastructure, more clean energy, and better schools.
That’s all good, standard stuff but familiar stuff. The problem is that Obama isn’t a very creative president. He’s progressive (which is great by me) but not creative in the sense of sharply reframing our national narrative and offering dramatically different solutions to our challenges.
Creativity is the source of economic value. Creativity takes what money can’t buy and transforms it into what money can buy. We have spent decades focusing on efficiency, and it has brought us stagnating incomes and falling mobility for the middle class. It’s time to focus on creativity.
How could the president amplify the nation’s creativity? Here are four major reframes of our national economic narrative, Mr. President.
1. MAKE ENTREPRENEURSHIP, NOT BIG BUSINESS, THE CENTERPIECE OF ECONOMIC POLICY.
2. MAKE MANUFACTURING, NOT BIOSCIENCE, THE MAJOR RECIPIENT OF FEDERAL R&D SPENDING.
3. PROMOTE CROWDSOURCING. RELEASE THE JOBS ACT FROM THE SEC.
4. MAKE ART AND SHOP COURSES CENTRAL TO EDUCATION.
Here’s the full story.
[Image: Obama]

fastcodesign:

4 Things Obama Could Do To Foster America’s Creativity

When President Barack Obama takes the stage on Tuesday night to deliver his State of the Union address, he’ll attempt to take the pulse of the nation and prescribe a cure. His message is going to focus on the economy and helping the middle class. But his prescriptions, as leaked to the media, appear to be standard political fare—boost R&D, build infrastructure, more clean energy, and better schools.

That’s all good, standard stuff but familiar stuff. The problem is that Obama isn’t a very creative president. He’s progressive (which is great by me) but not creative in the sense of sharply reframing our national narrative and offering dramatically different solutions to our challenges.

Creativity is the source of economic value. Creativity takes what money can’t buy and transforms it into what money can buy. We have spent decades focusing on efficiency, and it has brought us stagnating incomes and falling mobility for the middle class. It’s time to focus on creativity.

How could the president amplify the nation’s creativity? Here are four major reframes of our national economic narrative, Mr. President.

1. MAKE ENTREPRENEURSHIP, NOT BIG BUSINESS, THE CENTERPIECE OF ECONOMIC POLICY.

2. MAKE MANUFACTURING, NOT BIOSCIENCE, THE MAJOR RECIPIENT OF FEDERAL R&D SPENDING.

3. PROMOTE CROWDSOURCING. RELEASE THE JOBS ACT FROM THE SEC.

4. MAKE ART AND SHOP COURSES CENTRAL TO EDUCATION.

Here’s the full story.

[Image: Obama]

(Source: fastcodesign)

fastcodesign:

Reporting the first official election results from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, is an Election Day tradition. The tiny town is a novel bellwether for the rest of the country, and this morning, the town reported a perfect tie, with five votes for Obama and five for Romney. If a ten-person town can be any indication, we’re in for a long day.
Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got dozens of ways to watch the results roll in. Parsing the hundreds of scenarios that could unfold today is a more complicated proposition. But The New York Times does a beautiful job with this bracket interactive, leading us through the 431 discrete paths to the White House open to Obama, and the 76 paths open to Romney. Designed by Mike Bostock and Shan Carter, it’s the most illuminating election graphic we’ve seen around the web. 

fastcodesign:

Reporting the first official election results from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, is an Election Day tradition. The tiny town is a novel bellwether for the rest of the country, and this morning, the town reported a perfect tie, with five votes for Obama and five for Romney. If a ten-person town can be any indication, we’re in for a long day.

Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got dozens of ways to watch the results roll in. Parsing the hundreds of scenarios that could unfold today is a more complicated proposition. But The New York Times does a beautiful job with this bracket interactive, leading us through the 431 discrete paths to the White House open to Obama, and the 76 paths open to Romney. Designed by Mike Bostock and Shan Carter, it’s the most illuminating election graphic we’ve seen around the web. 

(via fastcodesign)

A political campaign website has a singular purpose: vacuum up personal information and donations. How they do it is a matter of priorities. Content-heavy sites are slow to load and expensive to operate; running one in a cost-conscious manner means eliminating unnecessary server requests, tracking user behavior, optimizing every interaction, and shaving kilobytes off pages. So who does it better, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? The answer could provide yet another clue into how effective each man would be leading the country’s economic recovery. A side-by-side comparison reveals that neither site is perfect—and that they are not very similar

A political campaign website has a singular purpose: vacuum up personal information and donations. How they do it is a matter of priorities. Content-heavy sites are slow to load and expensive to operate; running one in a cost-conscious manner means eliminating unnecessary server requests, tracking user behavior, optimizing every interaction, and shaving kilobytes off pages. So who does it better, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? The answer could provide yet another clue into how effective each man would be leading the country’s economic recovery. A side-by-side comparison reveals that neither site is perfect—and that they are not very similar