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Alexander Howard
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In May 2015, Alexander B. Howard became the first senior editor for technology and society at The Huffington Post. He is a former research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and the Ash Center for Democratic Innovation in Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2013, Howard founded, a blog focused on open government and civic technology. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent for O’Reilly Media, an associate editor at TechTarget, and contributed to TechPresident, TechRepublic, WIRED, National Journal, PBS Mediashift, The Daily Beast, NextGov, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Slate, The Atlantic, Govfresh, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, and The Association for Computer Manufacturing, among other fine publications. Howard is a frequent speaker, conference moderator, and occasional analyst for public radio. He is a graduate of Colby College. You can reach him at

Entries by Alexander Howard

Yelp Adds Hospital Wait Times And Nursing Home Ratings Using ProPublica Data

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 1:27 PM

People have been using Yelp to find hotels and restaurants for years. Now, they can make more informed decisions about hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers, too. As part of a new consumer protection initiative, government health data has become integrated into the Yelp review pages for all of...

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POLL: When Is It OK To Use Your Cell Phone In Public?

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 12:25 PM

New research on mobile device etiquette from the Pew Internet and Life Project gave us insight into where American adults feel using a cell phone is OK -- and where it is not. Pew's researchers didn't ask about some of the other places that we know Americans are using smartphones,...

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Stop Talking About 'Screen Time,' Start Thinking About Screen Use

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 10:46 AM

In a new episode of "If Our Bodies Could Talk" published at on Thursday, health columnist Dr. James Hamblin takes a funny, whimsical look at screens and kids. The young doctor has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek most of the time, poking fun at the the...

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Americans Think Smartphones Hurt Socializing, But Use Them Anyway

(1) Comments | Posted August 26, 2015 | 4:36 PM

If you feel tempted to pull out your smartphone in church, at a meeting, during a movie or while you're out to dinner, think twice about responding to that chirp or buzz: Overwhelming majorities of American adults think using your device in these places is not OK.  


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Cutting Off Politwoops, Twitter Follows The Needs Of Politicians, Not Public Interest

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 3:52 PM

The executives who once called Twitter the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party" don’t work at Twitter anymore.

It shows.

In June, Twitter abruptly cut off access to Politwoops, a website operated...

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White House Police Data Initiative Could Lead To Reform -- If The Public Demands It

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 3:49 PM

We entrust police officers with the ability to use deadly force when necessary to uphold their oaths to protect and serve the public. In many states and cities, however, the public still doesn't know just how many times a year the cops apply deadly force, or to whom. The...

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Data On Canada Is Drying Up Since The Nation Scrapped Its Mandatory Long-Form Census

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2015 | 1:58 PM

Five years ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made participation in Canada's constitutionally mandated long-form census voluntary.

The consequences of not requiring people to fill out the country's National Household Survey are becoming increasingly clear, and they're not good: Canadian citizens, reporters, businesses and government officials don't know how...

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Our Relationship Status With Tinder And Dating Apps: It's Complicated

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 3:45 PM

After centuries of failed attempts, technology has finally, with the invention of geolocated dating apps, led to the downfall of Western civilization -- or so you might believe if you read a new Vanity Fair article that presents an ugly image...

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Google Once Made A Promise Not To Be Evil. Will Alphabet Uphold It?

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 5:35 PM

When Google filed to become a public company in 2004, it did so with one of the clearest company mottos in history: "Don't be evil." What Google really means by "don't be evil" has always been subject to its executives' interpretation. Last year, Google's...

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It's Possible To Stay Connected And Still Enjoy Vacation -- Just Ignore Work

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 3:36 PM

I've pursued unwiring for years now, shifting the phone to airplane mode and using it to take pictures. The research is increasingly clear: walking in natural environments is good for you, improving both mood and cognitive function. Just...

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Gigato Tries To Make Internet Access Affordable With Data Rebates

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 2:04 PM

For many people in developing countries, the cost of data incurred by using social networks, sharing files, watching videos and playing games makes such activities prohibitively expensive. But if the idea behind a new startup catches on, "data back" programs might become the new cash back reward programs for mobile...

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Facebook Drone With Frickin' Internet Lasers Ready For Testing

(1) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 11:51 AM

Over the centuries, many projects with stratospheric ambitions, from pneumatic trains to space ships -- have come to naught. Facebook's project to provide airborne Internet to remote regions through an autonomous aircraft, however, is ready to launch. In a video posted to his Facebook account on Thursday,...

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Parenting Experts Explain Why We Should Focus On Our Babies, Not Our Screens

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 3:41 PM

No matter how many different ways we ask the question, the answer from child development experts remains the same: humans under age 2 learn best from people, not screens. 

"The real emphasis shouldn't be on the taking away of screens," Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, recently...

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OK, Google: Please Collect Air Pollution Data With Street View Cars

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 10:27 AM

Imagine asking your phone to calculate the optimal route for cycling to work while enjoying the best air quality, or calculating whether it's better to just take the train or bus to reduce pollution. Similar requests might soon be possible.

On Tuesday, Google and Aclima, a San Francisco-based startup that...

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White House Responds To Remaining 'We The People' E-Petitions

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 9:51 AM

The White House responded on Tuesday to all of the unanswered online petitions that have met the minimum requirement of 100,000 signatures on its "We The People" platform

Twenty petitions received responses, including one requesting a pardon for Edward Snowden, one to require labels for genetically modified foods and...

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Software And Robots Eat Jobs. Now What?

(0) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 11:05 AM

In a story for Vox Monday, Matt Yglesias argues that we shouldn't be worried about losing our jobs to robots -- or to any other kind of sophisticated tech that can do the work of a human. What should worry us, Yglesias suggests, is the possibility that this doesn't happen.


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How Uber And The On-Demand Economy Are Changing The Way We Live

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 1:32 PM

Now that the Uberization of everything is breaking into mainstream politics, it's time to talk about what on-demand apps such as Uber or Pager will mean for transport, health care or other aspects of modern life and work.

MIT research professor Andrew McAfee is the co-author of The Second...

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'Accessibility Rights Are Human Rights'

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 10:22 AM

As the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act draws near, how the landmark accessibility law will apply to websites is still in limbo. In a tweet Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook made one of the clearest statements by any business leader to date about the importance of...

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Online Town Halls Like Clinton's Facebook Q&A Aren't A Substitute For Real Press Conferences

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hasn't given many national media interviews on the campaign trail, so when she took to Facebook on Monday for a question-and-answer session, journalists eagerly peppered her with queries. (Clinton answered a question I asked her there, signaling her support for more flexible benefits for workers...

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U.S. Government Acquires FAFSA Website That Was Confusing Students (UPDATE)

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2015 | 2:44 PM

The federal government has been taking down websites that host illegal activity for years, but in taking over a website -- specifically,, which until recently had been operated by the company Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. -- the Department of Education is doing something unusual.

FAFSA is the Free Application for...

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