Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

Port Chester Elects Luis Marino.

By way of quick update on how the town of Port Chester, New York, was using cumulative voting in its election Tuesday, it turns out that a Latino candidate did, in fact, find himself elected to the town's Board of Trustees. That's the first time a Latino Port Chesterean has received such a distinction, despite Westchester county town being more than 40% Latino. Kirk Semple , who has been following this story, reports that a Peruvian immigrant and Democrat by the name of Luis Marino came in fourth in the unusual balloting. Port Chester's election was intriguing, you might remember, because each resident of the town was given six votes to distribute among the dozen or so candidates on the ballot. Cumulative voting was the town's response to a federal case that asked why the town's elected representatives didn't reflect its racial makeup. Now, it's impossible to have much insight yet into what went into Marino's election. It could be that strategic "plumping" -- where voters load up...

Coming to Terms with Our Cyber Dependence.

Richard Clarke's vision of the coming cyber-Armageddon is easy to poke fun at. The former White House cybersecurity point person's recent book is full of convoluted worst-case scenarios, like foreign agents wishing the U.S. ill triggering destructive office fires by causing Internet-connected photocopiers to jam. Clarke's going for high drama to get attention, and he should get some deference for being one of the few people in government to see the Al Qaeda threat clearly. But I'll reiterate something I tweeted last month, "What I've learned from Richard Clarke's 'Cyber War' book: Your toaster will, in fact, kill you." More seriously, what's really concerning about Clarke's approach to "Cyber War" is highlighted in Jack Goldsmith's review for The New Republic . Clarke's militaristic framing obscures the very real fact that we in the United States have grown increasingly dependent on digital infrastructure without having made arrangements for what happens should it fail -- whether it's...

Towards a More Perfect Way of Voting in Westchester.

Tomorrow, the town of Port Chester, New York, population 28,000, wraps up the first round of its experiment with cumulative voting, a system whereby voters get multiple "votes" to distribute across their ballot. This new style of electing members of the town's board of trustees came about after a Voting Rights Act lawsuit questioned why, in a town of more than forty percent Latino population, there had never been a Latino on the town board. The case leaned on the Westchester county town to rejigger its at-large election system, and cumulative voting was the compromise that resulted. The real appeal of cumulative voting, or multi-voting, is that it is a relatively unstructured way of running elections that still opens up the possibility of minority representation. Generally speaking, voters get an equal number of chits to the seats available during the election. Six seats are open on the Port Chester board, so residents will get six votes. Voters can distribute their six votes however...

Washington's I.T. Guy

One man's quest to liberate all government information -- with or without the government's help

Carl Malamud onstage at the 2010 Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington, D.C. (O'Reilly Media Photo/James Duncan Davidson)
Shortly after Barack Obama's election, as progressive activists and Democratic operatives were jockeying for positions large and small within the new administration, Carl Malamud launched a quixotic campaign for an appointment as the director of the U.S. Government Printing Office. The public printer's task, historically, has been to compile and distribute to the American people the considerable amount of information produced each day by the federal government. Malamud, who has made a career of exploring and developing the transformative technology of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries, was eager to convert the job of public printer, which traces its roots to Benjamin Franklin, into an Internet-age publisher. He started a campaign for an appointment under the slogan "Yes We Scan." Rep. Ed Markey, highly regarded in the tech world, wrote a glowing letter to President Obama that described Malamud as "the best qualified individual" for the post. And members of Congress received...

Fox's Fantasy World Version of Copyright.

Christina Mulligan argues that among the areas where the hit Fox show Glee diverges from reality is that copyright infringement is a source of spiritual uplift, instead of litigation: In one recent episode, the AV Club helps cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester film a near-exact copy of Madonna’s Vogue music video (the real-life fine for copying Madonna’s original? up to $150,000). Just a few episodes later, a video of Sue dancing to Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 hit Physical is posted online (damages for recording the entirety of Physical on Sue’s camcorder: up to $300,000). And let’s not forget the glee club’s many mash-ups — songs created by mixing together two other musical pieces... Punishment for making each mash-up? Up to another $150,000 — times two. A caveat: I've never seen Glee . Musicals give me the heebee jeebees. But Mulligan seems to have a fairly brilliant point. On Glee , belting out Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" during trying times is rightly portrayed as life-affirming...

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