Italy's Berlusconi government spammed the cellphones of millions of citizens with text-messages about voting procedures for tomorrow's EU and local elections. Some call it an unprecedented invasion of mobile privacy for political control. Others argue it's a smart way for the administration to combat absenteeism and ensure that more of Italy's voting public shows up at the polls. Either way, unsolicited text messages don't grow on trees -- the stunt cost around $7M US, and critics want to know who paid for it.
The message, received on cell phones on Thursday and Friday, carried the sender line of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Premier Silvio Berlusconi's office. The message detailed when the polls will be open and what documents citizens need to vote.
"Finally we have recourse to a tool like the text message that is now in everyday use to bring the state closer still to its citizens," said Technology Minister Lucio Stanca. But the political opposition branded the strategy as a political tactic. The government "is trying every subterfuge to recover votes. It's alarming that privacy is violated in such a sensational way," said opposition lawmaker Francesco Martone.
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
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