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RIP Aaron Swartz

The young Highland Park native was an Internet prodigy, beginning with his work on developing RSS when he was only 14 years old. Driven by an idealistic commitment to open data, Swartz connected an extraordinary number of people together, both on and offline, and changing how we look at the Web from a technological and moral perspective.

Good News in Chicago Data

The Sun-Times picks up the well-regarded crime-tracking site Homicide Watch, plans on expanding it to Chicago; a look at city-owned vacant property (there’s a lot of it), and more

Social Media as City Life 101

As Chicago Ideas Week asks Twitter for solutions to the city’s gun-violence problem, the daily social-media life of the city continues with the smaller dramas of urbanity, such as what to do with injured baby squirrels.

The Social Value of Horrifying Open Comment Threads

Journalists hate what’s become of most comment sections, something that was supposed to be a great hope of the social web, because they run counter to the philosophy of reasoned discourse. But there’s a great deal of gold to be mined from that pit (even if news organizations shouldn’t be hosting it themselves).

This Week in Open Data and Other Civics

Political television ad data, a goldmine of transparency; Illinois, not as corrupt as you might think, depending on how you measure it; a short history of open data in Chicago; our new “convergence cloud”; and more.