Baltimore Sun: New website will let Maryland consumers compare hospital rates for the first time. “A new website… being launched Thursday by the Maryland Health Care Commission will help consumers compare these types of costs among hospitals and bring more transparency to hospital pricing practices. While patients can request all or some of this data from other agencies and the hospitals themselves, the commission said the website compiles the information all in one place and in an easy-to-navigate, consumer-friendly way.”
The Conversation: Solving the political ad problem with transparency. “Almost all the content and advertising on the internet is customized to each viewer. The impact of this kind of content distribution on the 2016 election is still being explored. But, we can certainly say that the campaigns used this to say different things to different people without having to worry about accuracy. Addressing this problem by having people screen ads is impractical and legally questionable. A more straightforward solution based on current disclosure laws is being discussed in Congress: Increase transparency by having digital media platforms post all ads on a web page that everyone can view.”
MapLight: A Powerful New Tool to Search and Analyze Money in Politics. “As Americans unite in frustration with the outsized influence of money in politics, the question of whose money is funding candidates for public office is more vital than ever. With the sheer quantity and complexity of campaign finance data increasing in recent elections, citizens need tools that respond to the challenge, like MapLight’s new Campaign Contribution Search.”
An interesting idea from Kickstarter Corner, though unfortunately it has no backers with 19 days left, so I’m not sure it’ll get off the ground: LiLGov.com. From the project’s description: “LiLGov is a project I have been working on for a year now. I want anyone to be able to search for their local government videos and find out what their representatives are saying. With LiLGov you will also be able to share specific moments of the meetings with other people on social media allowing change to happen. It is completely free and will never have ads, my goal is to make local government accessible to everyone. With your donation I will be able to improve the website and keep the website hosted for 1 year. “
National Academies: Report Offers Guidance to Federal Government on Creating a New Statistics Entity to Combine Data From Multiple Sources While Protecting Privacy. ” A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers detailed recommendations to guide federal statistical agencies in creating a new entity that would enable them to combine data from multiple sources in order to provide more relevant, timely, and detailed statistics – for example, on the unemployment rate or the rate of violent crime. The report reviews options for structuring the new entity, identifies approaches for protecting individuals’ privacy while linking multiple sources of information, and identifies areas where staff training is needed.”
Search Engine Land: The trouble with ‘Fred’ . “Right now, the Google spokespeople who primarily communicate with SEOs/webmasters are Gary Illyes and John Mueller. This is not a critique of them, as they communicate in the way Google has asked them to communicate. Indeed, they have been very helpful over the past few years. Mueller holds Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangouts to help answer questions in long form. Illyes answers similar questions in short form on Twitter and attends conferences, where he participates in various AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions with interviewers. All this is helpful and appreciated… but unfortunately, it is not the same.” Spot. On.
CNET: Google reports all-time high of government data requests. “Between Jan. 1 and June 30, Google received 48,941 requests for data from 83,345 accounts from governments around the world. The company complied with 65 percent of them, meaning more than 54,000 accounts were affected by this. That’s 4,000 more requests than the same time period in 2016.”