Uber Grows Older, Crowdsourced Constitutions, and Standing Up to Trolls


Photo: Walt Disney

Uber Says It’s Growing Up
 Uber wants the world to know it’s willing to change and that it’s learned something from class action lawsuits in both Massachusetts and California. In a blog post announcing a $100 million settlement, CEO Travis Kalanick admits the company wasn’t responding to many of its drivers’ concerns, and announced new policies intended to address Uber’s shortcomings. Wired was quick to publish an op-ed pointing out that the deal leaves the largest question — whether on-demand workers have the rights of full time employees — unresolved.

Mexico City Dips Its Toe Into Digital Self-Rule
 What if they wrote a constitution and let the constituents write it? We could be heading in that direction. NewCo host Mexico City is deploying crowdsourcing to create a new constitution (Quartz). Using NewCo Change.org as its platform, the city is soliciting ideas and setting up procedures for potentially integrating them. Before you start singing hosannas to the new nirvana of digital democracy, note that this exercise only goes so far: the constitutional assembly, which has the final word on the new city’s basic law, isn’t legally obligated to include any of the citizen input. Nonetheless, using digital tools to include the public in writing their laws is an experiment worth following and learning from.

Big Companies Are Still Big
 Despite frequent prognostications that the world had turned into an on-demand gig economy (see Uber above), an awful lot of people still work at BigCos. In a sharp piece of data journalism, Bloomberg’s Justin Fox moves swiftly and efficiently through chart after chart and concludes that any obituaries for the BigCo as a concept are extremely premature. BigCos need to change and partner and learn and all that, but they will be doing so as bona fide BigCos for the foreseeable future.

A Not-So-Happy Earth Day
World leaders are signing (LA Times) the Paris climate accords today. It is Earth Day, after all. But the Washington Post points out that the historic accord may be too little, too late. The shot clock is running down.

Trolling the Trolls
 If you could use an algorithm to troll a patent troll, wouldn’t you do it? Of course you would. This Quartz report on All Prior Art, a project from artist and engineer Alexander Reben intended to invalidate patents. He’s found 4.2 million “prior” ideas already. Here’s a stunt that might do some good. And if you want a first-hand look at what it takes to stand up to trolls, read Gil Elbaz over on Medium. His NewCo Factual fought a troll and won, but it cost them dearly. As Elbaz puts it, it’s cheaper to settle — and that’s what trolls expect you to do.

Maybe Not the Transparency You Were Looking For
 You want to sue Ashley Madison over its security breach. Sure. But you can’t do so anonymously (NYT) — unless you sign up for a class-action suit.

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