Signs that summer is ending are upon us in the form of both a holiday weekend and a cool rain falling outside my open windows, leaving me once again to ask: Where did it go?
As I head off to try to squeeze an entire summer’s worth of downtime into a three-day weekend, let me leave you with this month’s roundup of the best nonprofit tech-related things we read online this past month.
See you in September…
Is Cybersecurity Keeping You up at Night? Follow These Recommendations and Sleep Better.
Tech Impact’s own Sam Chenkin thinks about cyber security a lot. A LOT. Here are a few of Sam’s thoughts on the matter, written for the NTEN blog.
“Like all nonprofits, Tech Impact continually struggles to balance cybersecurity against cost, time, and user frustration. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of room for error! With access to hundreds of nonprofits’ systems, Tech Impact is an attractive target for criminals, activist hackers, and even government agencies. We take our mission seriously and put as much as we are able to secure our environments.
“On the other hand, as security experts ourselves, we are quick to spot the difference between what ‘they say’ you should do and what actually makes us more secure. In this post, I’ll share a subset of our security practices so that you too can do more than check the box.”
Calculate How Many Books You Could Read If You Quit Social Media
I won’t argue that social media is a valid communication tool—and it can be useful for sharing news, mobilizing support, and having fun. But we spend an awful lot of time on it, considering how recent an invention it really is.
Use this new calculator to figure out how many books you could read in one year if you checked them instead of checking social media. (Remember books?)
Data-Driven Design Is Killing Our Instincts
Benek Lisefski says valuing data over design instinct puts metrics over users.
“Design is no longer subjective. Data rules our world now. We’re told all design decisions must be validated by user feedback or business success metrics. Analytics are measuring the design effectiveness of every tweak and change we make. If it can’t be proven to work in a prototype, A/B test, or MVP, it’s not worth trying at all.
“In this cutthroat world of data-driven design, we’re starting to lose sight of something we once cherished: the designer’s instinct. ‘Trusting your gut’ now means ‘lazy, entitled designer.’ When we can ask users what they want directly, there’s no room for instinct and guesswork.
“Or is there?”
I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me.
For this interactive piece of investigative journalism, Farhad Manjoo let his computer track the trackers that follow us online, and what he found was shocking—even for a tech journalist.
“This is happening every day, all the time, and the only reason we’re OK with it is that it’s happening behind the scenes, in the comfortable shadows. If we all had pictures like this, we might revolt.”
27 Top Productivity Tools for Nonprofits
“Whether you’re working solo or with a team at your nonprofit, there are many kinds of resources that can help push you to achieve your overall goals,” writes Steven Davidson on the Tech Soup blog. “Productivity tools are types of software—often available via a mobile app—that help you stay organized, streamline workflows, and ultimately, get more done at your organization.
“And while there are hundreds, even thousands, of tools to choose from, we narrowed it down to 27 notable solutions that might help you in the day-to-day operations at your nonprofit.”
You’re Very Easy to Track Down, Even When Your Data Has Been Anonymized
Charlotte Jee has the results of a new study that shows you can be easily re-identified from almost any database, even when your personal details have been stripped out.
“The data trail we leave behind us grows all the time. Most of it isn’t that interesting—the takeout meal you ordered, that shower head you bought online—but some of it is deeply personal: your medical diagnoses, your sexual orientation, or your tax records. The most common way public agencies protect our identities is anonymization.
“This involves stripping out obviously identifiable things such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, and so on. Data sets are also altered to be less precise, columns in spreadsheets are removed, and ‘noise’ is introduced to the data. Privacy policies reassure us that this means there’s no risk we could be tracked down in the database.
“However, a new study in Nature Communications suggests this is far from the case.”
How to Opt Out of Companies Sharing Your Data With Third Parties
It’s not a silver bullet for tracking and privacy issues, but LifeHacker offers a good first step. And in this second post, the site reminds you that “Your Phone Logs Everywhere You Go,” and explains how to turn it off.
That’s it for this month. A big thank you to everyone who sent links. As always, if you have any you think would be a good fit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.