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Week That Was: Bay Area Economy, NSA Ruling, Tech Execs In D.C.

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with tech executives at the White House on Wednesday.
Jim Watson
AFP/Getty Images
President Obama and Vice President Biden met with tech executives at the White House on Wednesday.

Before we slow things down for the final two weeks of 2013 — you'll still get fresh stories and posts here, but at a slower clip — let's look back at tech in one of the last weeks of the year.


Our themed reporting week zeroed in on the San Francisco Bay Area and the economic and cultural flashpoints brought on by "Tech Boom 2.0" and its effects. Steve Henn dug into whether Silicon Valley's tech innovation would disrupt the labor market, KALW's Casey Miner helped explain the Google bus controversy to a national audience, and Laura Sydell brought us the tale of a security guard getting by on low pay while guarding multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley companies. I reported on how housing is bringing about a renewed interest in communal living, or co-living, and KQED's Aarti Shahani explored how an agricultural community in Northern California is getting an upgrade thanks to some help from Silicon Valley innovators.

Here on the blog, the Target data breach prompted Alan Yu to wonder why the U.S. is still using magnetic strips on credit cards, and a San Francisco-based journalist helped explain why this tech boom is different than the last one. Steve Mullis reviewed the game Brothers, and instead of picking an innovation we rounded up some of the best ideas we've gotten from you over the past few months. Our news blogger pals at The Two-Way covered this week's big drop in bitcoin value, after the Chinese central bank banned its financial institutions from dealing in the cryptocurrency.

The Big Conversation

A federal judge's ruling dealt a legal blow to the National Security Agency's mass spying, saying the program appears to violate the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The New York Times explained the ruling and the responses to it. The document leaker and former government contractor Edward Snowden said in a statement that NSA's spying is "collapsing."

While our team was out covering California, all the big California tech company execs came to Washington to meet with President Obama about government surveillance, IT procurement and preventing another HealthCare.gov-style tech debacle. The list included leaders from Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo and a few telecom bosses as well. If you were curious — yes, some of them have been big-dollar donors to the president in the past.

Other Curiosities

Slate: How To Fix Uber's Surge Pricing Problem

A proposal from Matt Yglesias, in response to customer outrage about nontransparent surge pricing during times of peak demand for rides.

The Washington Post: Research Shows How MacBook Webcams Can Spy On Their Users Without Warning

Your computer is watching, maybe.

Gawker: Tech Titan: Let's Break Up California And Make Silicon Valley A State

This venture capitalist wants to divide California into six separate states.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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