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[BackChannel] Five Reasons Not To Be "Mad As Hell"

BY Morra Aarons-Mele | Thursday, February 13 2014

Maureen Dowd’s Sunday rant on the sad state of a digitized media world that “runs on clicks” felt true in many ways. But I reject the claim that the digital medium is the problem. Here are five reasons to be hopeful about the state of the digital media and social change (our very own listicle, if you will). Read More

WeGov

From Sochi to Yerevan: Crowdfunding in the Caucasus

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, February 12 2014

The Sayat Nova Project, a Kickstarter-funded study of the minority culture of the South Caucasus (© Onnik James Krikorian)

In July 2007, when the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics was announced, writer-filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen and photographer Rob Hornstra embarked on an ambitious project to shine a light on the then little known Black Sea resort town of Sochi, in what was to become The Sochi Project. Without the help of crowdfunding, the project and the freedom through which filmmakers could create, would not have been possible. In fact, crowdfunding for civic-oriented projects is growing ever more popular in the Caucasus, especially as press freedom stagnates and foreign aid decreases. Read More

WeGov

Snowden and the War On Whistleblowers: An Interview With Annie Machon

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, February 11 2014

Annie Machon, a former British intelligence officer turned whistleblower, was known in the 1990s for disclosing illegal wiretapping, among a number of alleged crimes, by the UK Security Service, MI5. She is now again in the spotlight for creating a fund to help Edward Snowden and protect others like him. Machon talks to techPresident about her new initiative, the Courage Foundation to Protect Journalistic Sources, as well as her thoughts on mass surveillance and its erosion of civil liberties. Read More

WeGov

Frictionless Charity: How the Internet is Disrupting the Way We Give

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, February 3 2014

A woman shows how she has received money directly from donators (credit: GiveDirectly)

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his Timeline profile design back in 2011, he said it would create a “frictionless experience," making the apps you use, the articles you read and the music you listen to automatically shareable on Facebook. Philanthropy is also taking a “frictionless” route – donating can be as simple as sharing a Facebook post or tweeting a string of characters – but this new trend is disrupting the role of charities and how they interact with donors. Read More

WeGov

Africa Needs A Cybersecurity Law But AU's Proposal is Flawed, Advocates Say

BY Joel Macharia | Friday, January 31 2014

The AU may soon pass a cybersecurity bill that advocates say will not offer enough protections (EmbassyEquatorialGuinea/flickr)

Over the past 12 years, Africa has experienced a boom in telecommunication use; in fact, between 2000 and 2012, compared to any other region, Africa had the fastest rate of Internet penetration at 3,606.7% over that period. Kenya has the world’s largest mobile money transfer service, MPESA. Evidently, the increasing growth in Internet and mobile use has created a need for legislation that helps deter crime, and that enhances confidence and security in African cyberspace leading to the drafting of the Africa Union Convention on Cybersecurity (AUCC). The convention, however, has met with some resistance from tech and civil society, who claim it does not do enough to protect privacy and freedom of speech. Read More

WeGov

World Bank's New Website Lets Countries Compare Data on Education

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, January 30 2014

The data portal allows users to see what education data is available per country. (credit: screenshot, World Bank)

As our partner Engine Room’s Susannah Vila recently asked in a post, can open data improve primary education in developing countries? She points to a number of grassroots education data initiatives like Check My School in the Philippines and platforms that provide school quality data for parents in Kenya and Tanzania; but the latest education data initiative by the World Bank is aimed at policymakers. Read More

WeGov

TRAC FM Stirs Debate in Uganda By Merging Radio and Data

BY Erin Byrnes | Wednesday, January 29 2014

A radio presenter using the TRAC FM online platform (credit: TRAC FM)

Margaret Caroline Adong, 33, doesn’t own a smartphone or have access to the Internet where she lives in the Serere district in rural Uganda but she does participate in every TRAC FM poll that she hears over the radio or receives a text about. This SMS-based polling platform facilitates citizen engagement with interactive radio programs in Uganda through data collection and a radio broadcast of the mapped poll results. Read More

WeGov

Hadrian's Firewall: UK's New Internet Filter or Censor?

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Wednesday, January 22 2014

The UK Internet is getting its own Hadrian's Wall, an ancient fortification in Northern England (quisnovus/flickr)

"Hadrian's Firewall," the veteran journalist Guy Kewney called it in 2006, the first time I wrote about plans for UK-wide content blocking. The term is much more valid now: just before Christmas British ISPs turned on a system that requires subscribers to actively choose whether they want filtering that will block material in broad categories such as sex, alcohol, violence, and hate speech. In response, the Open Rights Group is gearing up to collect evidence of whether and how the filters work. Of particular concern to ORG is the problem of over-blocking with little redress available to site owners, as well as the dangers inherent in over-confidence in the technology. Read More

WeGov

In Kenya, Bloggers Say New Media Bill Makes Them Vulnerable to Prosecution

BY Neelam Verjee | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The new media law broadens the definition of "journalist" and gives courts authority to impose stiff fines (credit: CPJ)

Kenyan bloggers have sounded a warning that “draconian” media legislation introduced late last year among a storm of controversy could stifle the country’s vibrant online community. Bloggers and writers have expressed concerns about what they called “ambiguous” definitions of the term “journalist” and “journalism” in the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2013, saying that it marked the latest in a string of attempts to crack down on the country’s outspoken virtual community. Read More

WeGov

As Govt Ups Censorship of Microblogs, Chinese Netizens Migrate to Other Platforms

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, January 17 2014

Zhihu, a newer online platform allows for more liberal discussions than the oft-censored Weibo (credit: screenshot)

If you’re in China, don’t get too attached to your microblog. Sooner or later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will begin to censor it and you’ll either have to suck it up or move on. New data shows that most are choosing the latter, migrating from the popular microblog Weibo to the (seemingly) more private instant messaging service WeChat, as well as new debate platforms like Zhihu (“Did you know?”), which currently allows users to ask tough questions. Read More