How the ‘John Oliver Effect’ Is Having a Real-Life Impact


TIME

Comedians mock our cultural and political institutions on TV all the time. But it’s not every day that a comic’s jokes crash a government website or directly inspire legislators to push for new laws.

John Oliver, host of HBO comedy news program Last Week Tonight, is quickly building up that level of cultural cachet. While his forebears and former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart spend as much time lampooning the news media covering world events as they do analyzing events themselves, Oliver’s show stands out for its investigations into topics as varied as the militarization of the police state, Net neutrality and Argentina’s debt crisis.

MORE Feds Limit Law That Lets Cops Seize Your Stuff

Now Oliver’s approach has been cited as an inspiration for local government transparency. Just last week a Washington State legislator proposed a new bill that would let citizens comment on new legislation using videos…

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Facebook Using Social Sciences


CreepTicker

A few months ago, Bonnie Tsui wrote a piece over at Pacific Standarad on Facebook’s Compassion Research Day. 

According to Tsui, the social media giant has brought together social scientists from across the Ivy League to help it better understand how people interact online. 

Specifically, Facebook was concerned about anti-social social networking behaviour. How can users better communicate their dissatisfaction with unflattering pictures? How can we help teens cope with bullying? 

On one level this is all great: Facebook fine tunes its tools so that users are better able to voice their concerns. However, I notice that the newly developed solutions usually involve deeper investment in Facebook: sending messages to other users, opening up conversations with other user. 

“The changes have more than tripled the rate at which people send a message directly to another user asking for a photo to be removed. And of those requests, 85 percent of the…

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The Future: Battle Between Google and Wikileaks


TIME

Last weekend, I participated in an event that grabbed headlines around the world, even making it into Jimmy Fallon’s opening monologue on “The Tonight Show.” Yet the real cover story has to date gone unreported. The fourth annual Nantucket Project (co-sponsored this year by TIME) is a weekend of TED-style talks for the luminary set that hobnobs off the Massachusetts coast. I interviewed notorious Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by hologram, beamed in from his place of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. News coverage the next day focused in one way or another on the spectacular and mischievous angle that Assange had, in effect, managed to escape his quarantine and laugh in the face of those who wish to extradite him by appearing full-bodied in Nantucket before a packed house of exhilarated conference attendees.

Beyond the spectacle, though, what got less attention was what the interview was actually…

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