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Announcing the #PDF14 Tumblr Fellows!

BY Sonia Roubini | Friday, May 16 2014

We at PDF are happy to announce our 2014 batch of Tumblr fellows. For the past few years, PDF has teamed up with Tumblr to offer registration fellowships to ten of the brightest and most qualified minds working to creatively tackle issues at the intersection of technology and politics. The 2014 Tumblr fellows are innovators, creators, writers, students, and all around exciting people, and we’re pleased that they’ll be joining us at #PDF14. Read More

Fleets of Sailing Robots to Help Research & Protect the Oceans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 16 2014

What Protei could eventually do to help clean up plastics (Screenshot of TEDtalk below)

Imagine fleets of small boats cruising around the ocean, monitoring levels of plastic, oil and radioactivity, and eventually helping to clean up the ocean, and all completely unmanned. That may not be as far from reality as one might think. Scoutbots, a company that develops and builds open hardware technologies for environmental stewardship, recently began selling the first commercial prototype of its radio-controlled sailing robot, the Protei 011 “Optimist.” It is kind of like a seafaring drone.

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#PDF14 Speaker Preview: An Interview with David Moore, Executive Director of the Participatory Politics Foundation.

BY Sonia Roubini | Friday, May 16 2014

This speaker preview features David Moore, a ten year PDF veteran and the Executive Director of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to increase civic engagement. PPF's ... Read More

First POST: On the Home Front

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, May 16 2014

The home page is dead, long live the link!; the net neutrality fight's next chapter; why 2016 presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan may have some domain name problems; and much, much more Read More

Net Neutrality Activists Gear Up for FCC Comment Period

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 15 2014

The debate over net neutrality reached a peak Thursday, as the FCC voted in favor of a proposal that would allow Internet service providers to charge websites and content providers for higher quality and faster delivery, and activists expressed their opposition online and offline, as GigaOm explains in more detail.But especially online, the focus of the opponents of the proposals is already shifting rapidly now to the 120 day comment period and the potential to significantly reshape the final proposals at the end of the year. Read More

With Rules Reform, New York City Council Aims for Open API

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 15 2014

The New York City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution amending its rules to require the Council Speaker to make available legislative tracking information data and discretionary funding data to the public in a machine-readable format, and City Council members and open government advocates see the changes as a basis for making legislative information available through an open API. Read More

First POST: Throne Games, Phone Games

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, May 15 2014

An explosive new report about Verizon's apparent abuse of Title II of the Telecom Act; the "glass cliff" and the demise of NYT executive editor Jill Abramson; what the European high court forgot to do in its ruling against Google; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

The EU and I: How to Vote for an MEP If You Can't Keep Your Parties Straight

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 15 2014

Screenshot of euandi results

Next week Europeans will go to the polls to elect representatives to the European Parliament. Over the course of four days, the 28 members states combined will choose 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). To help them with their decision, voters can turn to the Voting Advice Application euandi. After responding to 28 policy statements, euandi lists the parties that align most closely with voters' values. VAAs have been shown to increase voter turn out on election day and to raise voter awareness about political issues, but statement selection can have an outsized effect on recommendations, leaving plenty of room for bias and inaccuracy.

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WeGov

In Gaza, Tech Start-Ups Break Down Barriers to Entrepreneurship

BY Daniella Peled | Wednesday, May 14 2014

Gaza is now home to a promising startup scene (Mercy Corps)

In Gaza, where the blockade has made entrepreneurship difficult and some times impossible, enterprises that exist in a virtual world, one where the difficulty of physically crossing borders can be overcome, are becoming increasingly attractive. It’s too soon to tell whether entrepreneurship and a new fledgling tech start-up community is helping the beleaguered economy of the Strip, but those involved in the sector hope it can capture the imagination of a generation mired in frustration and give them hope for the future. Daniella Peled reports from Gaza. Read More

WeGov

When Cute Cats Aren't Enough to Save Vimeo (or Reddit, Imgur, & 100+ Other Sites Blocked in Indonesia)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 14 2014

In his 2008 talk on the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, Ethan Zuckerman said “if you're not getting porn in your system, it doesn't work.” The idea is that popular platforms flush with cute cats and other innocuous, user-generated content are robust enough to support more controversial content, like pornography and social and political activism. Governments around the world, however, are throwing cute cats to the wind in their quest to rid the Internet of pornography (as impossible as that must seem to people who use the Internet). The most recent victims of the porn crackdown: Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur, which are now all blocked in Indonesia.

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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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