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First POST: Watching the Detectives

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 14 2014

The whole world is watching the confrontation between police and protesters in Ferguson, MO, thanks to the web; Twitter finally promises to improve its policies for reducing harassment of users in the wake of Robin Williams' death; how the new US Digital Service hopes to avoid future IT catastrophes; and much, much more. Read More

New US Digital Service Looks to Avoid IT Catastrophes

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, August 13 2014

USDS' Mikey Dickerson at the 2009 MySQL Conference (Photo by Jorge Bernal)

At a time when the public's trust in institutions is at historic lows, the federal government's use of technology has an unusual place in the national discourse. After the first Internet president's administration was responsible for the high-profile failure of Healthcare.gov, the issue seemed ripe to drive significant reform on Capitol Hill. Even if some 10 million adults gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act after "Obama's trauma team" made successful fixes to Healthcare.gov, negative public perception has lingered, and for good reason. Under the radar, other projects have continued to sputter, like a $300 million dollar Social Security government IT boondoggle that still has not delivered a working system for submitting disability claims. The crash of the FCC's dated website under the weight of 1.1 million comments this summer didn't help, either. At the same time, the confidence of the technology community has been damaged by revelations of dragnet surveillance and surreptitious backdoors planted in software. Now, the executive branch has launched two new initiatives aimed squarely at these issues, 18F and the just-announced US Digital Service, Alex Howard reports. Read More

WeGov

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 13 2014

Screenshot of the four tools

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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First POST: Public Enemies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 13 2014

James Bamford, our foremost chronicler of the NSA, talks to Edward Snowden; Black Twitter's hashtag activism and the Michael Brown killing; dissecting the 1.1 million comments on the FCC's Open Internet proposal; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Jumping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 12 2014

The US Digital Service arrives; what hashtag activism is really good for; unmasking some anti-net-neutrality sock puppets; new voting technology advances; and much, much more. Read More

How the Open Source Election Technology Foundation is Remaking the Voter Experience

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, August 12 2014

VoteStream prototype

In its report released earlier this January, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted how an online registration tool developed by the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation that being used by Virginia and groups like Rock the Vote "highlights the way that voter information can be entered by a user in one setting and, through a simple platform, seamlessly integrated with a state’s registration list." Now, ahead of the 2014 midterms and with an eye to 2016, OSET''s Trust the Vote Project is stepping up its efforts to expand that functionality and other election innovations across the country, at the same time that the Bipartisan Policy Center has taken up the task of more broadly implementing the commission's recommendations as a whole throughout the states. Read More

WeGov

How Tech-Savvy Podemos Became One of Spain’s Most Popular Parties in 100 Days

BY Carola Frediani | Monday, August 11 2014

The Podemos banner asks, "When is the last time you voted with hope?" (Podemos Uvieu/flickr)

Podemos (“We Can”), a new Spanish party established in March 2014, disrupted their nation’s political scene when it swept up five seats out of 54 and 1.2 million votes (8% of the total) in the European elections in May even though it was only 100-days-old. With 704,585 likes on Facebook and 321,000 followers on Twitter, it has more online fans than any other Spanish political party.

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First POST: Reshaping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 11 2014

BuzzFeed's plans to conquer all media; BellingCat, an open-source citizen journalism startup; what Facebook news feed is doing to our brains; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Leaking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 8 2014

Are there now three national security leakers?; Yahoo Mail to get PGP friendly; where young libertarian voters may turn; how small donors and online clickers are making politics worse; and much, much more. Read More

In New York City and Silicon Valley, Local Government Innovation Gets Outside Help

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, August 8 2014

Bill signing with Ben Kallos, Bill de Blasio, Brad Lander, Noel Hidalgo and others (via @BenKallos on Twitter)

At this year's Personal Democracy Forum, executive director of digital at the British Cabinet Office Mike Bracken discussed how the push toward civic innovation often does not start from within government. "You have to start on the outside, you have to finish on the inside." Two announcements in in New York City and Silicon Valley this week illustrate an increasing interplay between government's desire to take advantage of technology potential and the capabilities and skills of the external civic technology community (and the new trend of mayoral selfies). Read More