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You Will Not Believe How A Gas Station Almost Stole 700 Indian Rupees Worth of Gas From This Guy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Screenshot of Shankar explaining the scam

Even without the Upworthy-esque headline, one man's Facebook video explaining how routine petty larceny occurs at gas stations in India went viral and spawned spontaneous organization around the topic. It is an example of the culture of civic engagement in India that breeds successful projects like I Paid A Bribe.

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First POST: The Internet Is...

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Just how bad is the Internet's future?; Why Marc Andreessen is bullish about the future of news; how one upstart gubernatorial candidate is innovating online; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Telegram: Viable WhatsApp Alternative from Russia, But Still Questionably Secure

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Telegram (U.S. National Archives/Wikipedia)

After Facebook bought the messaging application WhatsApp on February 19 for a whopping $19 billion dollars, the messaging app Telegram, a product of the “Russian Zuckerberg” Pavel Durov, surged in popularity.

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Practitioner's Toolbox: One Political Startup's Efforts To Engage Potential Supporters Online

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Pennsylvania businessman Tom Wolf's 'about' page uses parallax scrolling to lead the audience through the story of his life

Pennsylvania businessman Tom Wolf's digital team is making the most of the traffic to the candidate's 'about' page to try to engage them and to turn them into active supporters. Here's how they're doing that. Read More

WeGov

The UAE Wants to Speed Up Government Service Delivery With Drones

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Screenshot of Netflix's (fake) "Drone2Home" program

Earlier this month Netflix released a short mock commercial poking fun at Amazon's plans to create a drone delivery service called Prime Air.

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HealthCare.gov's Missed Opportunity: Private Online Insurance Brokers Still Left Out

BY Alex Howard | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Nearly five months after the troubled launch of Healthcare.gov, private online health insurance brokers are still not selling plans eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act directly to consumers over the Internet, even though the mammoth law explicitly mandates that option. While consumers who aren't eligible for subsidies can use the online alternatives to Healthcare.gov, like eHealthInsurance.com, GetInsured.com and GoHealth.com, just as they have been able to do for years prior, a key component of the Obama administration's efforts to get people insured still isn't working quite right. Such brokers, classified as "Web-based entities" (WBE) by the United States government, have been chafing at the delays. Read More

Initiative Seeks to Reform RFP Process

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 25 2014

In Atlanta, one of the "craziest HTML layouts we’ve seen?"

The government procurement process hasn't had the best publicity lately, coming under criticism in the context of the federal and state health care roll-out and also in the context of election reform. A new effort from the Department of Better Technology, the non-profit focused on making available improved government technology, hopes to help lead the way to innovate that process by improving access to government request for proposals data on the state and the local level. Read More

WeGov

The Apocalypsticle: Better-Than-Nothing Tabloid Journalism or the Plague of New Media?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Kiev, February 18, 2014 (Аимаина хикари/Wikipedia)

The age old truism “A picture is worth a thousand words” is once again up for debate. Sarah Kendzior, writing for Politico, threw down the gauntlet in the article “The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine,” in which she criticizes the use of “apocalypsticles” to cover events in Ukraine as mere clickbait. Emily Bell responded in The Guardian, writing that listicles are valuable precisely because they are accessible, and to criticize a media form for catering to non-elites is “perverse.”

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First POST: Post-Ambition and Fear Not

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Cyberwar in Syria?; the Obama 2012 tech tools are being shared with lower ballot candidates; the debate over Netflix and Comcast continues; and much, much more. Read More

What Would You Ask Glenn Greenwald?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 24 2014

Glenn Greenwald, 30th Chaos Communications Congress, Hamburg 2013 (Photo by Tobias Klenze)

On March 10, I'm going to be talking with noted author and journalist Glenn Greenwald at South by Southwest, in a main hall session co-organized by Personal Democracy Media. We're going to focus on the future of journalism, civil liberties and politics. The idea for this session is that it be a conversation, not a speech or a typical one-on-one interview, and in setting it up we decided that it would be great to try to include lots of questions from the public. To that end, Glenn and I are asking that folks go to his page on AskThem, the new open-source nonprofit platform for crowd-sourcing questions to politicians and public figures, to post and vote up the questions you would like us to discuss. As long as questions are civil and relevant, I promise to ask the ones that get the most votes there. Read More

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.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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