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Uploading Democracy

BY La Netscouade | Wednesday, October 29 2014

TechPresident partnered with La Netscouade to feature an in-depth multimedia report on how the Hong Kong protestors are utilizing technology in the Umbrella Movement.

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WeGov

Anti-Corruption Alert, a Secure Platform For Public Servants Willing to Blow the Whistle

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, October 28 2014

The homepage of the Anti-Corruption Alert (ALAC) launched last week in Italy.

Last week, the Italian chapter of Transparency International launched Anti-Corruption Alert, a platform aimed mainly at public servants willing to denounce malpractice in the public administration. The platform uses GlobaLeaks, an open-source software specifically designed to protect the identity of the whistleblower and the receiver in the exchange of confidential material. Read More

WeGov

Italy Pioneers An Internet Bill of Rights

BY Fabio Chiusi | Monday, October 27 2014

Italy thinks we need a Magna Carta for the Internet (James Joel/flickr)

Do we need another Internet Bill of Rights? Fabio Chiusi talks to a number of experts about Italy's new project. Read More

The Most Tech Savvy Candidate Running for Statewide Office This Year is a Republican

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, October 24 2014

CA State Sen. Alex Padilla (left,) Davenport Institute's Pete Peterson (right.)

A California Republican who is a civic engagement expert is running a grassroots campaign to become secretary of state. He's been outraised by Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla by almost eight to one, but has received endorsements from most of the state's leading newspapers as well as a weekly progressive outlet. Here are some of his ideas for improving an office bogged down by procurement, budget and staffing woes. Read More

WeGov

Tunisian Youth Activists Dissect Budget Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, October 22 2014

The economic frustrations that led to the revolution still linger (Crethi Plethi/flickr)

Amira Yahyaoui is known for her plucky efforts to monitor the National Constituent Assembly -- turning up at private committee meetings, nettling officials with live tweets, taking their attendance and recording their every vote. Now she wants to open up Tunisia's economy too, starting with the state budget. Read More

Tracking the Pulse of Elections in 2014 and Beyond

BY Dan Ancona | Thursday, October 23 2014

Voting Booths 1966 (Clackamas County Historical Society/flickr)

Dan Ancona, who has been building online tools for empowering people in democracies since 2002, tells us why we should use Pulse. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: With Waze, Who's in the Driver's Seat?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 21 2014

Screenshot of Waze.com's live map for Rio de Janeiro

Can you be a "connected citizen" if you don't know that you are connected to government? That's the question that's been on my mind since Waze, the crowdsourced traffic data company recently acquired by Google, announced a major new partnership with ten local cities and governments around the world called "Connected Citizens." Under this program, Waze will be giving city, state and county authorities like the New York Police Department and Rio de Janiero's Operations Center real-time traffic incident data (aggregated and anonymized) and in turn getting timely and relevant data from the authorities about scheduled events (construction, marathons and the like) that can also cause traffic problems. Since the program's announcement, dozens more governments have been applying to join in. At first glance, this can only be seen as a net plus good where everyone wins. But upon further inspection, Waze's new "Connected Citizens" program can teach us a lot about the potential, and limits, of tech-empowered civic engagement when the users aren't really in the driver's seat (pun intended). Read More

What Tech Can and Can't Do to Eradicate Ebola

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, October 20 2014

Open Street Map assists WHO and MSF in Sierra Leone (Screenshot)

Over the weekend, a group of technologists met in New York City to discuss the limits and potential uses of data in combatting the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] Policing With Consent Would Require Throwing Away Our Freedoms

BY Guðjón Idir | Wednesday, October 8 2014

Keith Bristow, Director of the UK's National Crime Agency, asks the public to agree to more surveillance (Chatham House/flickr)

Guðjón Idir, the Executive Director of the Icelandic Modern Media Institute, explains why the UK's request for "policing with consent" demands trading in our freedoms. Read More

WeGov

FireChat Wasn’t Meant For Protests. Here’s How It Worked (Or Didn’t) at Occupy Central

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 10 2014

Occupy Central is also known as the Umbrella Movement (hurtingbombz/flickr)

On September 28, the third day of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests known as Occupy Central, one of the movement’s leaders, 17-year-old Joshua Wong, posted a message on Facebook to fellow protestors asking them to download an app called FireChat in case the government decided to shut down phone and wifi connections. A week later, even though the government had not cut off connectivity, downloads had more than quadrupled at 450,000. But so far, there's been little reporting on whether FireChat actually enables useful communications among protesters. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] Like Island, Like Party: How Kim Dotcom's Internet Party Resonates In Iceland

BY Birgitta Jonsdottir | Monday, October 6 2014

The Internet Party has a simple but grand agenda.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, a Representative of the Pirate Party in Iceland, writes in with her thoughts on Kim Dotcom's Internet Party and its recent loss in the parliamentary elections in New Zealand. Read More

The Dangers of Off-Grid Social Networking in Hong Kong and Beyond

BY Sascha Meinrath | Thursday, October 2 2014

FireChat doesn't need the Internet but it is most certainly not risk-free (Melies The Bunny/flickr)

Sascha Meinrath, who has been dubbed the "community Internet pioneer," provides a list of reasons why off-grid tools like FireChat need to be used with a dose of caution. Read More

First POST: Ironies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 6 2014

How LinkedIn is playing nice with Chinese censors; Australians rally against government intrusion into their online communications; Lawrence Lessig's campaign against money in politics; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Increasing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 3 2014

Debating the merits of FireChat for Hong Kong's protests; how Occupy Central could win; how the DCCC's email fundraising tactics have gone crazy; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Occupy Central and China's Policy of Give and Take

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 30 2014

The movement has inspired a variety of Internet logos (Top: Angelo Costadimas | Left: Sam Inglis | Right: Tania Willis)

Since exploding on the international stage on Friday, the ongoing pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong known as Occupy Central has galvanized up to 80,000 people by some estimates and has made enough noise to capture attention and support from those as far away as Los Angeles, London, Paris and Perth. But inside mainland China, except for a few folks who shaved their heads to show solidarity, people there have remained noticeably quiet. The government's diligent censorship of Occupy Central coverage in China can explain part of the silence but not all of it.

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First POST: Outgassing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 1 2014

How Beijing is throttling expressions of solidarity with the Hong Kong democracy protests; is the DCCC going overboard with its online fundraising tactics?; SumOfUs's innovative new engagement metric; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Lifestyles

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 30 2014

Google's CEO on "work-life balance"; how CloudFlare just doubled the size of the encrypted web; Dems like Twitter; Reps like Pinterest; and much, much more. Read More

With Vision of Internet Magna Carta, Web We Want Campaign Aims To Go Beyond Protest Mode

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, September 30 2014

Clarista_/flickr

On Saturday, Tim Berners-Lee reiterated his call for an Internet Magna Carta to ensure the independence and openness of the World Wide Web and protection of user privacy. His remarks were part of the opening of the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, which the Web We Want campaign envisioned as only the start of a year long international process underlying his call to formulate concrete visions for the open web of the future, going beyond protests and the usual advocacy groups. Read More

First POST: Dogfood

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 26 2014

What ethical social networking might look like; can the iPhone promise more privacy?; how Obama did on transparency; and much, much more. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: How Network-Centric Organizing Made the People's Climate March

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 22 2014

Hundreds of thousands marched for climate change in New York (South Bend Voice/flickr)

At a reported 400,000 people, yesterday's People's Climate March was purportedly four times larger than expected. Other articles may feature the celebrities who turned out for a photo-op; this one is concerned with everyone else, the “odd juxtapositions” of a Muslim marching next to a Christian, a pagan next to a monk, and the work (and tech) that went into getting them there.

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First POST: Sucks

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 25 2014

How the FCC can't communicate; tech is getting more political; Facebook might see a lawsuit for its mood manipulation experiment; and much, much more. Read More

In Detroit Water Project, Tech-Driven Philanthropy Takes Off Without Touching Down

BY Denise Cheng | Friday, September 19 2014

Disaster images like this one of Michigan Central Station has led to outpourings of offers to "fix" Detroit (Thomas Hawk/flickr)

Denise Cheng, an independent researcher affiliated with MIT's MIT Center for Civic Media, was surprised to learn that new philanthropy organizations like the Direct Water Project operate remotely. She explores the ins and outs of a new breed of tech-driven, direct philanthropy. Read More

WeGov

Can Technology Help Swing Scotland’s Referendum Towards Yes?

BY Jon Worth | Wednesday, September 17 2014

Lady Alba for Yes versus PatronisingBTLady for No (screenshots)

Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707 and the old cultural ties to the rest of the British Isles are one of the main arguments made against independence in tomorrow's referendum vote. Yet if the Yes to independence side is to succeed – the polls narrowed in the final month of the campaign to within a couple of percent after a sudden surge in support for independence – it will be something much more modern that will win the day: the use of online technology in a top-down data driven manner and networked grassroots way.

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First POST: Scotched

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 19 2014

Why conservatives should back net neutrality; how big data may damage civil rights; the ways Silicon Valley start-ups are exploiting freelance workers; and much, much more. Read More

After Election Loss, Teachout and Wu Keep Up Net Neutrality and Anti-Comcast Merger Campaign

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 15 2014

Tim Wu and Zephyr Teachout at NYC Rally

The Teachout/Wu campaign may have lost, but their pro net-neutrality campaign continued Monday as both former candidates participated in a rallly in New York City marking the final day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission's Internet proposals and kept up their pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo. Read More

First POST: Connecting the Dots

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 17 2014

Take Back the Tech grades Facebook, Twitter, et al, on transparency; MayDay PAC founder Lawrence Lessig talks about getting matched funds; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Splits

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 16 2014

USA Freedom Act divides Internet activists; Julian Assange's Reddit "Ask Me Anything"; New York's pro-net-neutrality protest; and much, much more Read More

Personal Democracy Forum Italia: September 29th in Rome

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, September 16 2014

PDF Italia will take place in Rome on September 29, 2014

In less than two weeks, on September 29th, Personal Democracy Forum will arrive in Italy for the first time, kicking off a series of conferences and events on innovation. More than 30 speakers will gather to explore the theme, “In a data society.” Read More

First POST: Lessig of Two Evils

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 15 2014

Updates on Lawrence Lessig's MayDay SuperPac; Glenn Greenwald goes after New Zealand; a virtual revolution in Saudi Arabia; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Positive Sums

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 11 2014

How Teachout won some wealthy districts while Cuomo won some poor ones; DailyKos's explosive traffic growth; using Facebook for voter targeting; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Emergence

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 10 2014

Evaluating the Teachout-Wu challenge; net neutrality defenders invoke an "internet slowdown"; NYC's first CTO; and much, much more. Read More

De Blasio Names Minerva Tantoco First New York City CTO

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, September 9 2014

Minerva Tantoco at New York Tech Meetup (NYTM)

Mayor Bill de Blasio named Minerva Tantoco as first New York City CTO Tuesday night in an announcement that was greeted with applause and cheers at the September meeting of the New York Tech Meet-Up. In his remarks, De Blasio said her task would be to develop a coordinated strategy for technology and innovation as it affects the city as a whole and the role of technology in all aspects of civic life from the economy and schools to civic participation, leading to a "redemocratization of society." He called Tantoco the perfect fit for the position as a somebody who is "great with technology, has a lot of experience, abiltiy and energy and ability to create from scratch and is a true New Yorker." Read More

First POST: Fusion Politics

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 9 2014

The Teachout-Wu Cuomo-Hochul race as it comes to a close; more criticism for Reddit as it prepares a major new round of funding; First Lady Michelle Obama as an Upworthy curator; and much, much more. Read More

As Primary Day Arrives, Teachout and Wu Unveil Tech Policy With Ohanian Endorsement

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 8 2014

Alexis Ohanian, Tim Wu and Zephyr Teachout at Meetup (via Wu campaign on Twitter)

New York gubernatorial candidates Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu officially unveiled their technology policy Monday afternon as they received an enthusiastic endorsement from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian a day before New York's Democratic primary. Read More

First POST: Messiness

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 8 2014

The latest in NY Democratic gubernatorial primary politics; how the Internet Slowdown protest is gearing up; Reddit as a "new type of community"; and much much more. Read More

Vote For Teachout-Wu

BY Micah L. Sifry and Andrew Rasiej | Tuesday, September 2 2014

Tim Wu and Zephyr Teachout, selfie-style

Today we are throwing our wholehearted support behind Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, who are challenging sitting governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate Rep. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary next Tuesday September 9th. Here's why... Read More

First POST: Elevation

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 5 2014

The White House reshuffles its tech leadership team; why Twitter shouldn't adopt algorithmic curation; the tech industry money backing Tim Wu; and much, much more. Read More

A Competition to Make the City More Resilient

BY Susan Crawford | Tuesday, September 2 2014

New York City meets Hurricane Sandy (credit: John Chandler/flickr)

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York nearly two years ago, it left devastation in its wake. Homes and livelihoods were lost, and the storm caused $19 billion in estimated damage. Small businesses were particularly hard hit. ... Read More

First POST: Fireworks

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 4 2014

Why business should defend "net neutrality"; the civic tech scene in Chicago; the tech money behind a Washington state gun control initiative; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Government Clouds

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 3 2014

How almost no one wants the FCC to undo "net neutrality"; how Uber is losing its special status in Maryland; how one judge doesn't buy the government's arguments for the NSA's dragnet collection of phone records; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Endorsed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 2 2014

Why we're backing Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu; Uber's controversial campaign against Lyft; White House CTO Todd Park's new role; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Ushahidi Provides Journalists With Instant Real-Time Crisis Data

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, August 20 2014

Ushahidi's CrisisNET platform provides reporters with accurate and timely data culled from social media (credit: Ushahidi)

Times have changed since Ushahidi first launched its crisis mapping platform in the violent aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya. With the use of social media now widespread, so too has the way in which many media, international organizations, and local NGOs now work. Ushahidi has had to go social. Read More

WeGov

In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 20 2014

A scene from the mountain range in Mexico that foreign companies hope to mine for gold and silver.

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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Public Lab Builds Environmental Monitoring Community, Online and Off

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, August 19 2014

Balloon photo of Gowanus grossness by Eymund Diegel Public Lab

Environmental monitoring can be expensive and difficult but tech is changing how we relate to the environment. Until recently, the mechanics of political influence in America created a segment of environmental activism that isn’t always about connecting people to the environment. But as smart phones have gotten into more hands, and more people get connected online, environmental activism has started to shift, or grow, as well. Read More

Is the Sharing Economy Set Up to Help or Turn a Profit When Disaster Strikes?

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, August 15 2014

Faces of Airbnb hosts who offered free housing during Hurricane Sandy (screenshot)

During Hurricane Sandy, many users of peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb and TaskRabbit offered free housing or reduced prices to victims of the disaster. But others took advantage of those in need and raised prices. Can the sharing economy resolve its inherent contradictions? Read More

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 14 2014

#NMOS14 infographic by @dakrolak

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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The First Fruits of Significance Labs Show Civic Tech at its Best

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 14 2014

Signficance Labs co-founder Hannah Wright (photo by Micah L. Sifry)

A few months ago, Significance Labs was little more than an idea with a beautifully designed home page, a home at Blue Ridge Foundation's hub in Brooklyn, and the seed funding to back up a daring pitch: Why not build technology aimed directly at addressing the needs of low-income Americans? Now, after picking six fellows from a pool of 150 applicants, the Labs is showcasing some inspiring results: five promising examples of working civic tech tools that can demonstrably help the poorest among us. Read More

In NYC, Emergency Services Are Going Wireless--But Imagine What They'd Be Like With Fast Fiber

BY Susan Crawford | Thursday, August 14 2014

Now, with better and far more timely data, increasingly accurate and better targeted interventions, and coordination with the other medical systems that patients encounter, FDNY EMS is pushing the country towards a telemedicine future, writes Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford. Read More

New US Digital Service Looks to Avoid IT Catastrophes

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, August 13 2014

USDS' Mikey Dickerson at the 2009 MySQL Conference (Photo by Jorge Bernal)

At a time when the public's trust in institutions is at historic lows, the federal government's use of technology has an unusual place in the national discourse. After the first Internet president's administration was responsible for the high-profile failure of Healthcare.gov, the issue seemed ripe to drive significant reform on Capitol Hill. Even if some 10 million adults gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act after "Obama's trauma team" made successful fixes to Healthcare.gov, negative public perception has lingered, and for good reason. Under the radar, other projects have continued to sputter, like a $300 million dollar Social Security government IT boondoggle that still has not delivered a working system for submitting disability claims. The crash of the FCC's dated website under the weight of 1.1 million comments this summer didn't help, either. At the same time, the confidence of the technology community has been damaged by revelations of dragnet surveillance and surreptitious backdoors planted in software. Now, the executive branch has launched two new initiatives aimed squarely at these issues, 18F and the just-announced US Digital Service, Alex Howard reports. Read More

WeGov

How Tech-Savvy Podemos Became One of Spain’s Most Popular Parties in 100 Days

BY Carola Frediani | Monday, August 11 2014

The Podemos banner asks, "When is the last time you voted with hope?" (Podemos Uvieu/flickr)

Podemos (“We Can”), a new Spanish party established in March 2014, disrupted their nation’s political scene when it swept up five seats out of 54 and 1.2 million votes (8% of the total) in the European elections in May even though it was only 100-days-old. With 704,585 likes on Facebook and 321,000 followers on Twitter, it has more online fans than any other Spanish political party.

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How the Open Source Election Technology Foundation is Remaking the Voter Experience

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, August 12 2014

VoteStream prototype

In its report released earlier this January, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted how an online registration tool developed by the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation that being used by Virginia and groups like Rock the Vote "highlights the way that voter information can be entered by a user in one setting and, through a simple platform, seamlessly integrated with a state’s registration list." Now, ahead of the 2014 midterms and with an eye to 2016, OSET''s Trust the Vote Project is stepping up its efforts to expand that functionality and other election innovations across the country, at the same time that the Bipartisan Policy Center has taken up the task of more broadly implementing the commission's recommendations as a whole throughout the states. Read More

In New York City and Silicon Valley, Local Government Innovation Gets Outside Help

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, August 8 2014

Bill signing with Ben Kallos, Bill de Blasio, Brad Lander, Noel Hidalgo and others (via @BenKallos on Twitter)

At this year's Personal Democracy Forum, executive director of digital at the British Cabinet Office Mike Bracken discussed how the push toward civic innovation often does not start from within government. "You have to start on the outside, you have to finish on the inside." Two announcements in in New York City and Silicon Valley this week illustrate an increasing interplay between government's desire to take advantage of technology potential and the capabilities and skills of the external civic technology community (and the new trend of mayoral selfies). Read More

Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 31 2014

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. Read More

Google Street View Cars Measure Methane Gas Leaks

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 1 2014

Screenshot of the three EDF maps: Boston, Indianapolis, and Staten Island

Cities degrade. Potholes may jar us and delays due to construction may irritate us, but it is impossible to perceive the full extent of a city's decay. Environmental Defense Fund, however, has partnered with Google Earth Outreach to make visible one environmental hazard of aging infrastructure: natural gas leaks. Earlier this month they published maps of leaks in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island. The project was the first for which Google Earth Outreach deployed Street View cars for environmental research purposes.

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Civic Tech and Engagement: How SeeClickFix is Changing the Fabric of Local Reality

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

To see how people using the Internet can thicken civic engagement in deep and positive ways, there is no better example than SeeClickFix.com, a community platform that was founded in 2008 by Ben Berkowitz, a computer programmer living in New Haven, Connecticut, and his friends Miles and Kam Lasater and Jeff Blasius. Read More

[Op-Ed] Civic Tech and Engagement: How City Halls Can Help Construct Stronger Neighborhoods

BY Susan Crawford | Tuesday, July 29 2014

Boston's new District Hall, a public-private partnership for civic innovation

Last week, the UN reported that more than half of humanity now lives in cities; by 2050 two-thirds of people will, up from just 30% in 1950. Given the grave challenges facing the world's booming urban areas—including global warming, economic dislocation, and crumbling basic infrastructure, among other torments—tomorrow's mayors will need to take bold steps to ensure their constituents live in dignity and safety. But public distrust of dysfunctional, faceless government is profound, resources are limited, gaps between groups are widening, and many are unaware of the role of government in their lives—which makes citizens less likely to support major initiatives. One way to fill the drained reservoir of public trust in municipal government, writes Susan Crawford, is to make city hall more visibly—and continuously—responsive. Digital technology can help: by using data to optimize the use of limited city resources and communicate clearly (with a friendly voice) across a range of platforms, a city can make life noticeably better for its citizens. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

An old-fashioned barn-raising in Lansing, Canada (circa 1900-1919)

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? Read More

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

BY Ben Valentine | Monday, July 21 2014

Sudo Mesh members mount a rooftop node as part of a mesh network project in Oakland (Credit: Matt Senate)

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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WeGov

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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How to Raise $5 Million Online For Campaign Finance Reform: Why MayDay PAC Succeeded

BY Ben Wikler | Monday, July 14 2014

Lawrence Lessig as the president from the movie "Independence Day" (photoshop by Represent.us)

When Lawrence Lessig's MayDay SuperPAC reached its $5 million crowd-funding goal on July 4, on top of an earlier first-push target of $1 million, observers were sent reeling. The target had seemed not just ambitious, but naive: there just couldn't possibly be enough people out there who cared enough. And even if there were, there was no way to reach them—Lessig and his team gave themselves less than two months for the entire campaign. Not only that, but if they fell short, the money would all be refunded. It was a fool's errand. And then, literally as fireworks exploded up and down the East Coast on Independence Day, they hit their goal. How did they do it? Read More

@Congressedits Hopes to See More Wikipedians in Congress

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, July 14 2014

In the future, could members of Congress list their Wikipedia edits on their homepage along with their voting records and constituent services? That is the vision of Congressedits, a Twitter feed that within only the past few days has helped popularize the idea of anonymously tracking government and instutional edits to Wikipedia pages around the world. Read More

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First POST: Scary Monsters

Facebook opens up about its experiments on tweaking voting behavior; breaking news in the FCC net neutrality battle; getting hard data on civic tech's impact on political efficacy; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: System-Gaming

Why techies interested in political reform are facing challenges; the latest data on Democratic voter contacts in 2014; Hungary's anti-Internet tax demonstrations are getting huge; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Gimme Shelter

The link between intimate partner violence and surveillance tech; the operational security set-up that connected Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden; how Senate Dems are counting on tech to hold their majority; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Tribes

Edward Snowden on the Internet's impact on political polarization; trying to discern Hillary Clinton's position on NSA reform; why Microsoft is bullish on civic tech; and much, much more GO

monday >

First POST: Inventions

How voter data-sharing among GOP heavyweights is still lagging; why Facebook's News Feed scares news publishers; Google's ties to the State Department; and much, much more. GO

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