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The First Fruits of Significance Labs Show Civic Tech at its Best

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 14 2014

Signficance Labs co-founder Hannah Wright (photo by Micah L. Sifry)

A few months ago, Significance Labs was little more than an idea with a beautifully designed home page, a home at Blue Ridge Foundation's hub in Brooklyn, and the seed funding to back up a daring pitch: Why not build technology aimed directly at addressing the needs of low-income Americans? Now, after picking six fellows from a pool of 150 applicants, the Labs is showcasing some inspiring results: five promising examples of working civic tech tools that can demonstrably help the poorest among us. Read More

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 14 2014

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. Read More

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 14 2014

#NMOS14 infographic by @dakrolak

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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In NYC, Emergency Services Are Going Wireless--But Imagine What They'd Be Like With Fast Fiber

BY Susan Crawford | Thursday, August 14 2014

Now, with better and far more timely data, increasingly accurate and better targeted interventions, and coordination with the other medical systems that patients encounter, FDNY EMS is pushing the country towards a telemedicine future, writes Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford. Read More

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

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: MonopSony

Debating whether the Sony hack is a national security issue; living in the Age of Outrage; how Black Twitter is changing the civil rights scene; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Company

The global "Snowden effect" is huge; how many consumer-facing online services fail the user privacy test; the Dems' 2016 digital to-do list; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Mood Slime

The Sony email leak reveals the MPAA's campaign against Google; how Uber is lobbying in local markets; mapping the #MillionsMarchNYC; and much, much more. GO

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