From transportation to housing to policing and automation, our cities are undergoing massive changes. While tech is driving that shift, there's a lot more to it.
Meanwhile, we've got some reading for you: 1448 words, to be specific (a 5-minute read). Go ahead, I'll wait.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
While tech firms talk more about protecting personal information than they once did, a pair of recent controversies highlight the industry's longstanding habit of prioritizing convenience and new features over users' privacy.
Driving the news:
Why it matters: Zoom prioritized one-click convenience. Superhuman prioritized wowing users. Privacy came in a distant second.
Our thought bubble: Privacy feels like an afterthought in tech because historically that is almost always what it's been. Our digital world, from the web to Facebook to our phones' wireless networks, was designed and built as a generator of connections between people, first and foremost.
Yes, but: Privacy is beginning to show up not just in tech firms' talking points but in their product decisions. Apple, of course, has tried to make privacy a selling point. But even Google and Facebook, which offer free services in exchange for personal data that targets ads, have made recent privacy-oriented product decisions.
However, neither Facebook nor Google has fundamentally changed its tune. Google added a new Hub Max model this year that does have a camera, with Google pitching it as designed for shared spaces like living rooms and kitchens. At the Code Conference, Facebook hinted that new models of the Portal are coming, too, possibly with broader functionality than the original device.
The bottom line: Tech companies are making small changes in response to controversies in the media, but they're unlikely to radically alter their approach to privacy unless users demand it — and express their preference in their purchasing and usage choices.
President Trump's plans to stoke conservative grievances about social media are part of a larger strategy to fan the us-vs.-them theme of his 2020 campaign, Mike Allen reports.
The big picture: The issue of tech companies being biased against conservatives is one of the hottest subjects among the Republican Party’s online base, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.
White House officials want the conservative "family" to push Silicon Valley to work on bias, transparency and fairness:
Why it matters for politics : Trump is all-in on scaling grievance: capitalists vs. socialists; Christians vs. non-Christians; rural vs. cities; conservatives vs. social media.
Why it matters to tech: The giant companies are rightly worried that right-wing rallying cries of bias could escalate into new regulations or efforts to break up Google, Facebook or Amazon.
Our reality check: Conservatives accurately view the workforces and culture at most large tech companies as lined up against them.
At a San Francisco screening Monday of "The Great Hack," an upcoming Netflix documentary about the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data scandal, filmmakers and subjects posed big questions about social media platforms' responsibility for political turmoil around the globe, according to Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.
The bigger picture: "I think Silicon Valley has to ask itself what its responsibility is to the open world" of public democratic discourse, said Karim Amer, co-director of the film with Jehane Noujaim.
Flashback: Investigations last year revealed how data analytics company Cambridge Analytica and its parent company obtained Facebook data on millions of Americans and passed it along to political consultants who used it to power campaigns on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential bid and Brexit.
The new documentary delves into what happens when the pendulum of technology swings away from enabling democracy and toward its darker side, as Amer explained during a panel following the screening.
Panelists also offered some solutions to problems with social media:
The bottom line: Everyone seemed to agree that, in the Cambridge Analytica saga, the social media system worked exactly as it had been designed to function.
Welcome to a new feature where we share thoughts on some of the tech products we are either trying out or using day-to-day.
For my trip to DC this week, I packed Mophie's new $99.95 PowerStation Hub, which plugs directly into a wall outlet to charge devices, but also can be unplugged and used as a portable battery.
The squarish block acts as:
The bottom line: It's not the biggest portable battery, but the Mophie's ability to charge a Mac laptop makes it more versatile than any other I have. (Just don't count on running your laptop too long that way.)
P.S.: Let me know what you think of this feature and what else, if anything, you'd like to see us cover. Just hit reply to this email. (Ina@axios.com works too.)
At first glance they look like photographs. But they're actually finger paintings.