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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


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.