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Further fueling the ongoing debate over the future of the news media and independent journalism, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar last month committed $250 million to a news site co-founded by journalist and author Glenn Greenwald. Omidyar’s investment followed the announcement over the summer that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased The Washington Post, also a $250 million investment. The late Steve Jobs’s wife, Lauren Powell, and 29-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are also pouring money into old and new media ventures.

Could this new band of news media owners shape a technology-led business model that will be profitable and protect the integrity of impartial, ideology-free journalism? Ultimately, according to Wharton experts, the ball will rest with the consumer.

Any new business model that those in the technology world would bring to the media realm would have to address the major pain points currently facing the industry. News organizations have “suffered a lot financially in the past couple of years,” says Wharton marketing professor Pinar Yildirim. Circulation numbers and advertising revenue have shrunk as both readers and companies turned their focus to the Internet. The industry has tried to adjust to the new normal — some newspapers and magazines have cut back on issues or the number of days they produce a print product. Other news organizations have started charging for online access. Still more have tried to add content that mimics what tends to be most popular on the web, especially entertainment-related coverage, Yildirim notes.

Omidyar has indicated that he was motivated more by a desire to protect independent journalism than the prospect of getting a return on his investment, at least for now. In a blog post published on his website last month, Omidyar wrote that his investment in Greenwald’s venture (tentatively called “NewCo.”) stems from his “interest in journalism for some time now.” In 2010, Omidyar founded Honolulu Civil Beat, a news website with a stated focus on “investigative and watchdog journalism.” Earlier this summer, he explored buying The Washington Post newspaper before Bezos became the winning bidder. Around that time, Omidyar said he began thinking about the social impact he could help create with an investment in “something entirely new, built from the ground up.”

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Google Authenticator

After Wired's Mat Honan lost and subsequently recovered his personal data last month, he dove into the world of hackers and found out just how easy it is to obtain secure account information from a variety of sites. Honan was put in contact with Cosmo, a hacker responsible for a number of high profile attacks as part of hacktivist group UGNazi — hijacking 4Chan's DNS, breaking into the WHMCS billing agency and stealing 500,000 credit card numbers, and posting Mayor Michael Bloomberg's address and social security number online multiple times. The 15-year-old Cosmo explains just a few of the disturbingly simple methods for obtaining personal data from companies like Amazon, Paypal, and Netflix and how he managed to bypass Google's...

Continue reading…

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On April 24, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a digital trove of 870,000 photographs, maps and videos that document more than 150 years of Big Apple history, starting in 1858. Among the highlights is a series of images showcasing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened to the public 129 years ago on Thursday.

The evocative, black-and-white photographs are not only remarkable for the intimate and playful details they capture, including a shot of workers painting the Brooklyn Bridge in 1914—without harness!—but also because they were taken by an amateur photographer named Eugene de Salignac, who was a municipal worker from 1906-1934.

Eugene de Salignac

Under the bridge on the Brooklyn side, 1918.

“He was an extremely talented photographer who was tasked with documenting the building of the city,” says Eileen Flannelly, New York City’s deputy commissioner for the department of records. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get recognition for his images during his lifetime. He was just a civil service employee, really unknown. I don’t think people really understood then that he was showing us how our city was built.”

The push to unveil this digital archive has been in the works for nearly four years, and it’s likely to become a hallmark achievement for Mayor Bloomberg, who has made it a mission to support technological initiatives during his tenure. Other photographs from the archive give viewers an inside look at the city’s grisly crime scenes, old Times Square and various borough presidents’ offices. “I look at the crime scene and it’s like looking at an old gangster movies—they’re fascinating because they don’t look real,” Flannelly says. “Then I look at pictures from the ‘80s and see how much the city has changed. It’s fascinating because you don’t have to go too far back to see how far we’ve come.”

The New York City Municipal Archives Photo Gallery can be browsed online here.

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The whole "everyone should learn programming" meme has gotten so out of control that the mayor of New York City actually vowed to learn to code in 2012.

Bloomberg-vows-to-code

A noble gesture to garner the NYC tech community vote, for sure, but if the mayor of New York City actually needs to sling JavaScript code to do his job, something is deeply, horribly, terribly wrong with politics in the state of New York. Even if Mr. Bloomberg did "learn to code", with apologies to Adam Vandenberg, I expect we'd end up with this:

10 PRINT "I AM MAYOR"
20 GOTO 10

Fortunately, the odds of this technological flight of fancy happening – even in jest – are zero, and for good reason: the mayor of New York City will hopefully spend his time doing the job taxpayers paid him to do instead. According to the Office of the Mayor home page, that means working on absenteeism programs for schools, public transit improvements, the 2013 city budget, and … do I really need to go on?

To those who argue programming is an essential skill we should be teaching our children, right up there with reading, writing, and arithmetic: can you explain to me how Michael Bloomberg would be better at his day to day job of leading the largest city in the USA if he woke up one morning as a crack Java coder? It is obvious to me how being a skilled reader, a skilled writer, and at least high school level math are fundamental to performing the job of a politician. Or at any job, for that matter. But understanding variables and functions, pointers and recursion? I can't see it.

Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing. That'd be ridiculous, right?

Advice-for-plumbers

The "everyone should learn to code" movement isn't just wrong because it falsely equates coding with essential life skills like reading, writing, and math. I wish. It is wrong in so many other ways.

  • It assumes that more code in the world is an inherently desirable thing. In my thirty year career as a programmer, I have found this … not to be the case. Should you learn to write code? No, I can't get behind that. You should be learning to write as little code as possible. Ideally none.
  • It assumes that coding is the goal. Software developers tend to be software addicts who think their job is to write code. But it's not. Their job is to solve problems. Don't celebrate the creation of code, celebrate the creation of solutions. We have way too many coders addicted to doing just one more line of code already.
  • It puts the method before the problem. Before you go rushing out to learn to code, figure out what your problem actually is. Do you even have a problem? Can you explain it to others in a way they can understand? Have you researched the problem, and its possible solutions, deeply? Does coding solve that problem? Are you sure?
  • It assumes that adding naive, novice, not-even-sure-they-like-this-whole-programming-thing coders to the workforce is a net positive for the world. I guess that's true if you consider that one bad programmer can easily create two new jobs a year. And for that matter, most people who already call themselves programmers can't even code, so please pardon my skepticism of the sentiment that "everyone can learn to code".
  • It implies that there's a thin, easily permeable membrane between learning to program and getting paid to program professionally. Just look at these new programmers who got offered jobs at an average salary of $79k/year after attending a mere two and a half month bootcamp! Maybe you too can teach yourself Perl in 24 hours! While I love that programming is an egalitarian field where degrees and certifications are irrelevant in the face of experience, you still gotta put in your ten thousand hours like the rest of us.

I suppose I can support learning a tiny bit about programming just so you can recognize what code is, and when code might be an appropriate way to approach a problem you have. But I can also recognize plumbing problems when I see them without any particular training in the area. The general populace (and its political leadership) could probably benefit most of all from a basic understanding of how computers, and the Internet, work. Being able to get around on the Internet is becoming a basic life skill, and we should be worried about fixing that first and most of all, before we start jumping all the way into code.

Please don't advocate learning to code just for the sake of learning how to code. Or worse, because of the fat paychecks. Instead, I humbly suggest that we spend our time learning how to …

  • Research voraciously, and understand how the things around us work at a basic level.
  • Communicate effectively with other human beings.

These are skills that extend far beyond mere coding and will help you in every aspect of your life.

[advertisement] How are you showing off your awesome? Create a Stack Overflow Careers profile and show off all of your hard work from Stack Overflow, Github, and virtually every other coding site. Who knows, you might even get recruited for a great new position!

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In this week’s photos from around New York, two dogs prepare for a ‘wedding,’ the Orchestre Septentrional performs in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg kisses Miss Piggy and more.


A woman received support from other bystanders at First Avenue and 119th Street. A 23-year-old armed robbery suspect was shot and killed Thursday by a retired New York Police Department lieutenant who happened upon a Harlem shootout, authorities said. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Gwen Rakotovao, a 25-year-old dancer and model from France, got her makeup done by Michelle Coursen for a profile picture for the social-networking site Badoo. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


Anonda Olchewsky, 6, looked at tortoises in the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo April 5. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


From left, halibut, mahi mahi, and tuna ceviche and popcorn with lemon oil at Pampano Botaneria on East 49th Street. (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal)


Michel Tassy sang during the Orchestre Septentrional performance in Brooklyn April 7. The Orchestre Septentrional has been making music since 1948 and is perhaps Haiti’s quintessential big band. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journal)


A tablescape called ‘Harbor Island’ designed by Alessandra Branca was on view at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Annual Spring Gala Wednesday at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Dingoes occupy the new dingo kennel at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


All three of New York’s public library systems are conducting or planning expansive renovations that reflect a shift in whom they serve, and how. Shown, the Queens Library’s Discovery Center, which opened last year. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


Braised Brussels sprouts, pancetta and oregano at Indie, a new cafe at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journa)


Filmmaker Jonas Mekas has a drink at Cafiero Lussier on East Second Street. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


The smoked Gouda and fig grilled cheese sandwich at Say Cheese at 142 West 83rd St. in Manhattan. (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


Dogs Piper, left, and Boo, right, sat on either side of their owner, Orfeh, at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan April 5. In mid-May, the two dogs will ‘wed’ at an event meant to bring awareness to animal adoption. (Rob Bennett)


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kissed Miss Piggy as Kermit the Frog watched at a news conference in New York Friday. Mr. Bloomberg announced the Muppets are the city’s official ‘Family Ambassadors,’ to encourage families to travel to the city. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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