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Plus: Tim O’Reilly’s original unconferences, the problem with flying cars, and selfie-snapping toddlers.
Hi everyone, and welcome to the third edition of Plaintext. I hope that this newsletter has become one more good reason to look forward to Friday. (I now look forward to Friday because it means the newsletter is done and I don’t have to worry about the next one until … Sunday?) If you are reading this on the web and are wondering why it isn’t in your inbox, fix that by subscribing to WIRED at a discount so steep you’ll need to depressurize afterwards. You’ll get the print version, unlimited web, and of course, this newsletter.
Last weekend I attended an event called Social Science Foo Camp, an “unconference” where attendees spontaneously schedule discussion sessions to create a lively agenda. The venue was Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. One of the more interesting sessions I attended concerned a project called Social Science One.
Social Science One is an effort to get the Holy Grail of data sets into the hands of private researchers. That Holy Grail is Facebook data. Yep, that same unthinkably massive trove that brought us Cambridge Analytica.
In the Foo Camp session, Stanford Law School’s Nate Persily, cohead of Social Science One, said that after 20 months of negotiations, Facebook was finally releasing the data to researchers. (The researchers had thought all of that would be settled in two months.) A Facebook data scientist who worked on the team dedicated to this project beamed in confirmation. Indeed, the official announcement came a few days later.
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