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Sublime to Absurd: The HealthCare.gov Debate, From Procurement Reform to Cats and Jon Stewart

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, October 23 2013

Many commentators in the past few days have criticized the media coverage of Healthcare.gov's launch problems, highlighting what they see as a lack of technical understanding. Meanwhile, the issue has sparked a complex, passionate discussion among some experts on Twitter debating the root of the problems, comparisons with the Obama campaign's Narwhal system, the difference between campaign and government technology, the inherent flaws in the procurement process and how to improve government technology. Three of the key figures in the ongoing Twitter debate, storified below, over the past few days were Clay Johnson, technologist, founder of Blue State Digital and a 2012 Presidential Innovation Fellow, writer and consultant Clay Shirky, and Harper Reed, CTO of Obama's 2012 election campaign. While among them and others the discussion has been a wonky, almost philosophical conversation about the role of technology and government, rooted in their experiences, Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday opted for a more sensational approach when he decided to cite Johnson's Oct. 7 blog post calling the contractors "sloppy" to create "8 Cats Who Called 1-800-ObamaCare but Still Couldn’t Get Healthcare." Read More

Bloomberg's Final Digital Roadmap Sets Stage for Successor

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, October 21 2013

Bloomberg discussing innovation in cities on Oct. 7 (Mayor's Office/Flickr)

New York City officials envision a future where a social media analytics platform, and crowdsourcing, could help provide early warnings of emergencies; where free WiFi could emanate from buildings and street furniture; where public housing residents would have free Internet access; where the "sharing economy" is able to flourish; where New Yorkers could complain to 311 about their Internet service, have a personalized online account to access city services and where developers would have access to more APIS. These are some of the ideas outlined in a report released by the Bloomberg administration and compiled based on feedback from New Yorkers through listening sessions held in the five boroughs and on social media. Read More

Oakland City Council Passes Open Data Policy

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 17 2013

The Oakland City Council Tuesday unanimously passed legislation requiring Oakland to adopt an Open Data Policy with the goal of making city data publically accessible in machine-readable format. Read More

Democracy.com Hopes to Level Campaign Playing Field With Social Network For Politics

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 15 2013

Most candidates for political office in America, especially local offices, don't have a website. Democracy.com is a new start-up that is hoping to build a robust political social network by focusing on meeting the basic technology needs of those candidates, Miranda Neubauer reports. Read More

Coders Try Debugging Shutdown and Constitution on GitHub

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, October 9 2013

Could the answer to the government shutdown be debugging the Constitution? That's the solution several coders and developers are jokingly suggesting on a GitHub thread. Read More

De Blasio Discusses Airbnb, Occupy, Pope Francis & Pizza in Reddit AMA

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 8 2013

de Blasio/Twitter

In his first Reddit AMA, leading New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio responded to policy questions on Airbnb, the Occupy movement, the tech community and to personal questions about his religious views, favorite books and his son's famous hair. Read More

"The Good Wife" Goes Beyond Metadata To Snowden Territory

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, October 7 2013

NSA Employees tracking Metadata on CBS' The Good Wife

CBS's The Good Wife took its regular focus on the intersection of law, technology and politics to a new level Sunday night with an episode that addressed the subject of online surveillance with parallel and overlapping storylines. Earlier this year, techPresident noted that an episode of the show touched on Aaron Swartz, Anonymous and Internet activism. In recent weeks, both Wired and Slate have pointed out how the program is the "the most tech-savvy show on TV" for its plot lines on everything from Bitcoin to robots in the workplace allowing employees to work remotely. Read More

Government Shutdown Sets Off Data and API Scramble

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 3 2013

Among the many casualties of the government shutdown are the websites and data sources that researchers, civic hackers and others use on a regular basis for a variety of online applications, visualization projects and studies. The disappearance of resources like data.gov and census.gov has forced those relying on the data to act quickly to find creative solutions or work together to gather backed-up information. Read More

Millions Flock to Govt Online Health Exchanges Despite Govt Shutdown

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 1 2013

CNN's homepage, like news homepages across the world, is filled with headlines about the government shutdown. But since early Tuesday, visitors to the CNN homepage from the New York area at least have also been greeted with full-page ads encouraging them to enroll in the state-run health care exchanges. The New York State of Health web platform is one of the exchange websites that reported some access difficulties earlier in the day due to intense usage. As the Washington Post and others noted, at one point Tuesday the site showed the notice "Attention: Due to overwhelming interest in the NY State of Health — including 2 million visits in the first 2 hours of the site launch — the health exchange is currently having log in issues. We encourage users who are unable to log in to come back to the site later when these issues will be resolved." Read More

NYC Announces Wifi, Broadband Initiatives and New Homepage

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 30 2013

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced two major wireless access and broadband initiatives throughout the city today, a day after the City of New York unveiled a redesign of its homepage over the weekend. Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

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

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? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

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