NYC Digital: Listening to You

Rachel Haot, NYC's Chief Digital Officer, presents on the State of the Digital City.
Rachel Haot, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer, presents on the State of the Digital City. [Photo by Joly MacFie]

With the sun starting to set a warm glow over the East River, I was one of 150 people scurrying through the stone streets of DUMBO on Thursday, July 11th.  Approaching the NYU-Poly DUMBO Incubator building, strangers’ suspecting glances were confirmed: others around them were also heading to the Brooklyn edition of the NYC Digital Roadmap Listening Sessions.

The name of the event series may cause some minor confusion.  The “Digital Roadmap Listening Session” is not just for attendees to listen to government officials explain themselves.  Those attending the sessions are not supposed to merely listen to that which is already occurring.  It would be a mistake to assume that the listening in these sessions is merely passive.  Ordinary New Yorkers are invited to be “innovators,” as the @nycgov Meetup group terms attendees.  It is important to note that the events are described as participatory discussions; all are welcome to chime in on the city’s digital future. Continue reading “NYC Digital: Listening to You”

Looking into the Prism: Surveillance, Secrecy, and Snowden

PRISMMedia outlets have been abuzz for the past few weeks, scandalizing the revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has vast records, even on Americans.  The question of security versus surveillance has provided much room for debate, even inviting comparisons to oppressive regimes.  Perhaps even more heavily, the popular media is fascinated by the Edward Snowden, the Booz Allen contractor responsible for the leaks.

In engaging in such pervasive surveillance, the government is overstepping its bounds.  While the actions of these agencies are likely legal, they are not necessarily appropriate.  President Obama and other officials have repeatedly insisted that these actions are not made explicitly illegal by the word of law.  Rather, they have been sanctioned by all branches of the federal government.  Is this enough?  Continue reading “Looking into the Prism: Surveillance, Secrecy, and Snowden”