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Distributing Transparency, the White House Way

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 22 2010

One of the most interesting elements in this Thursday's "summit" at the White House on health care reform is the Administration's commitment to broadcast the proceedings live. But it's not just inviting C-SPAN into the room (finally), or posting the video on the "/live" section of WhiteHouse.gov. The White House new media operation is giving the embed code to anyone who wants to host the video on their own website. I'm pasting the code in below so you can see what you get, for now...

There's a sweet deal in here for Facebook (the embed runs a Facebook chat alongside the video stream), which raises some side-questions about whether it is proper for the White House to implicitly favor one private social network platform over all the others. (And I bet you can easily disable that chat stream if you want to fiddle with the code.)

But I'm more interested in seeing how the networked public sphere swarms over this content in real-time. Whatever else happens on Thursday--whether the TV networks roadblock the summit or cover it live and in full--you can be assured that there will be many places on the web where people are gathered to watch and discuss the encounter. Kudos to the White House for making that possible by making the video freely available.

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NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

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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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NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

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