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A Look Back at techPres' Year that Was, 2010 Edition

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, December 24 2010

Photo credit: doug88888

As 2010 quickly draws to a close, your faithful techPres editorial team -- Micah Sifry, myself, and Nick Judd -- thought we might take this chance to highlight some of our picks for the most engaging news developments, intriguing insights, and compelling trends we've had a chance to consider here on techPresident over the last 12 months. It's always an honor to cover the intersection of technology and politics for you, but all the more so in an exciting year like 2010 where tech politics became especially central to the public conversation. In no particular order, we present our choices:

  • "Ten Ways to Think About DDoS Attacks and Legitimate Civil Disobedience"
    "Are DDoS attacks, where a group of people come together online to overwhelming a particular website or online service by sending a disabling amount of traffic its way, a reasonable evolution of the tactics humans reasonably and productively use to get things to change when it comes to politics or society, akin to sit-ins? Or is DDoS vandalism the suppression of free speech and freedom of assembly dressed up in digital glitz? A little of both? Something else entirely?"

  • "From Wikileaks to OpenLeaks, Via the Knight News Challenge"
    "It's illuminating to compare the 2009 Wikileaks News Challenge proposal -- which made it to the final round of the prestigious program but was ultimately rejected by the Knight News Challenge judges--to [Daniel] Domscheit-Berg & Co's current plans for OpenLeaks."

  • "The Web's Social Contract: Does It Exist? Are Wikileaks Takedowns Breaking It?"
    "Is the web's social contract being violated when a platform like a Twitter or a Facebook or a Tableau running away from content that they might find objectionable, unpleasant, or inconvenient?"

  • "Code for America: Developers Pledge to Connect Citizens, and Each Other, in 2011"
    "In 2011, a group of 20 technologists across the country will test a theory: Given coding talent and information-technology knowledge, big municipal governments can make their cities better without spending a whole lot of money."

  • "Will Hack for Food"
    "The International Open Data Hackathon arrived in Manhattan this past Saturday, and this being New York City, perhaps it's no surprise that the subject here was food."

  • "Twitter Politics, and the Folly of Focusing on the Big Bang"
    "If you're constantly looking for the next Twitter revolution, you're missing out on the millions of tiny things happening that just might, eventually, tip the world towards justice."

  • "In Texas, a Small Town Hopes for a Gov 2.0 Makeover Miracle"
    "On Sept. 20 and 21, Manor, Tx. will host manor.govfresh, a two-day conference for state and local public servants to talk tech and open government. And they'll be giving another Texas town — De Leon, population 2,433 — a 'Gov City 2.0 Makeover.' De Leon is a town going through a rough patch. "

  • "The SEO White House"
    "On Tuesday afternoon, just after President Obama signed the health care bill into law, Google searches rocketed upwards for the phrase "What's in the Health Care Bill?" There was, the data showed, a hunger in the United States for information on what the legislation would actually mean for the country. And so, the White House swooped into action."

  • "The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality"
    "The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests--banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex--sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting. "

  • "Headed West to Twitter, Katie Stanton Reflects on Washington"
    "Stanton's experience is an intriguing one at a moment when people are once again complaining that official Washington is where technological vision goes to die. Stanton offers some insight into why bridging the innovation gap in government can be so difficult."

  • "The Oil Spill as Metaphor for Our Times"
    "[The Gulf oil spill is] a quintessentially 21st century spectacle, and the way we are experiencing it is yet another warning of something that is deeply broken about how we use information today: we consume shocking images almost entirely without taking meaningful action in response."

  • "How the Internet Organizes the Unemployed"
    "Considering the persistence of high unemployment, and all kinds of evidence that unemployed people are going online in huge numbers to find help (they have more spare time than the average person, don't forget), there's very little sign that anybody--government, labor unions, or other kinds of political organization--is explicitly trying to connect with the unemployed using the web."

  • "Pahlka's Vision of Accountable Citizenship"
    "[Code for America's Jen] Pahlka describes what a data-driven, collaborative city looks like. In that city, data doesn't just hold government accountable. In that city, she said, open data holds 'citizens accountable to a definition of citizenship.'"

  • "MoveOn Doing Real-Time Mass Dial Test of Obama SOTU"
    ", the five-million member e-organization of progressive activists, is doing something really interesting with its members...: thousands of them are going to be participating in a live online dial-test of President Obama's State of the Union speech."

Have your own picks? By all means, leave them in the comments.

And with that, we're really taking a bit of vacation. We look forward to getting back at it in 2011. Thanks for being a part of this.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.