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Tech Week: U.S. Spying, Health Site Blame Game And New iPads

"Too big to succeed."

That's how one of my sources described the complex, complicated HealthCare.gov tech system that was built with 55 contractors in several discrete parts, all without a clear system integrator. The issues and recrimination in Congress over the rollout dominated our week, on air and online. On Monday the administration announced a "tech surge" to fix the system, but would adding more manpower help or hurt? By week's end, a congressional panel called four of the system's major contractors in to testify, where they blamed the federal government for not better "quarterbacking" the project.

The problems of HealthCare.gov present an opportunity, says the U.K. Executive Director of Digital Mike Bracken. He says it's about time for the U.S. to address the systemic forces that led to this mess — American leaders who think of tech projects as "bridges to be bought" rather than services, and a burdensome procurement process that feeds into that thinking. Read his full Q&A for more.

Also on All Tech this week, Pew came out with some new numbers on how we feel about online dating, Emily Siner looked into the history of the word "glitch," and we chose a huggable lampshade as our Weekly Innovation. And our sister blogs at NPR covered Twitter setting its IPO price, why a PlayStation costs nearly $2,000 in Brazil and how NASA has its broadband connection up and running in space.

The Big Conversation

This week's revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's leaks centered on how the U.S. spied on its allies. Reports say the NSA tapped into former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email, French phone and Internet traffic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone as well as the phone calls of 35 world leaders.

Also, you probably heard that Apple released its new line of iPads, in which, as The New Yorker describes, Apple made more progress in its war on the pixel. We didn't cover it, because we are resisting putting time and resources into product announcements that the tech trade press covers so thoroughly. In fact, Dave Winer chastised the tech press for the way it covers Apple, writing, "At some point everyone is going to realize this. They're going to look down at next year's iPad or iPhone or whatever, and realize that it's just a small improvement over last year's."

Other Curiosities

Nieman Journalism Lab: We're spending more and more time online. So what are we doing less of?

A look at what online media seems to be replacing in our daily lives.

The Verge: Breast intentions? New study spurs debate over online breast milk sales

A new study shows the breast-milk-sharing economy is transferring a lot of bacteria-laden liquid that's unsafe for babies.

The Week: Oops: Police bust marijuana farmer using Google Earth

Time was, you could grow your marijuana out of the prying satellite view of police. Times have changed.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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