Don’t ask what she makes


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Massachusetts draws a line in the job-interview sand. The most novel feature of Massachusetts’ new employment law bars employers from asking job applicants how much they made in previous gigs (The Atlantic). Legislators and activists hope to reduce the gender wage gap by breaking the loop in which small initial pay disparities turn into ever-larger inequities over the course of a career. Considering how stubborn the gender pay gap is, and how complex its causes (Vox), this experiment is surely worth a shot. But the law won’t go into effect for two years; it’ll be longer before we know whether it works. Applicants can still voluntarily tell Massachusetts hiring managers what they make, and the law guarantees workers the right to tell each other, too. Can limiting information in the hiring process really help? In the long run, more info is better than less: you can’t fix the system without knowing the data.

Lab keys are under the mat. Airbnb has taken the wraps off Samara, its new urban-planning innovation lab (Fast Company) aimed at “exploring new attitudes toward sharing and trust.” The first project: a communal housing project in Japan, done up in relaxing unfinished cedar, aimed at revitalizing small rural towns. How will these design projects contribute to the company’s bread-and-butter short-term rental business? Samara’s motto offers a clue: “The journey is long.”

We got a little old convoy. If 1.8 million Americans pay their bills by driving big trucks, what happens to them in the bright future of autonomous vehicles? Vox’s David Roberts says we’d better expand that conversation among technologists and safety experts to include economists and social scientists as well. If new tech eliminates “one of the last jobs available in the US that pays something close to middle-class wages…without requiring a college education,” we’re in for a transition even more wrenching than the shift away from coal mining.

It looks like a cross between a double-decker bus and a jumbo jet. If you added a few fins and whiskers, it could star in a new Miyazaki film. It is the prototype of a “straddling bus” unveiled this week in Qinhuangdao, China (New York Times), that adds a mobile second story to crowded urban arteries, leaving the traffic crawling underneath. This fanciful transport innovation might not be coming to a street near you any time soon. But it’s kind of stunning it even got as far as this 300-meter test run. Here are some videos (Shanghaiist blog).

California is fast-tracking new solar installations by reducing red tape. Spurred by a new law, cities are speeding up permits and inspections (InsideClimate News), with San Jose’s one-day process serving as a model. We all blame government for slowing down progress, but sometimes it can accelerate change, too.

Also in Newco Shift: John Battelle explains how the new company might be the platform that creates a true standard for sharing open data. And Brian Monahan lays out what it really means to think of your brand as a platform.

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