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[Op-Ed] Civic Tech and Engagement: How City Halls Can Help Construct Stronger Neighborhoods

BY Susan Crawford | Tuesday, July 29 2014

Boston's new District Hall, a public-private partnership for civic innovation

Last week, the UN reported that more than half of humanity now lives in cities; by 2050 two-thirds of people will, up from just 30% in 1950. Given the grave challenges facing the world's booming urban areas—including global warming, economic dislocation, and crumbling basic infrastructure, among other torments—tomorrow's mayors will need to take bold steps to ensure their constituents live in dignity and safety. But public distrust of dysfunctional, faceless government is profound, resources are limited, gaps between groups are widening, and many are unaware of the role of government in their lives—which makes citizens less likely to support major initiatives. One way to fill the drained reservoir of public trust in municipal government, writes Susan Crawford, is to make city hall more visibly—and continuously—responsive. Digital technology can help: by using data to optimize the use of limited city resources and communicate clearly (with a friendly voice) across a range of platforms, a city can make life noticeably better for its citizens. Read More

First POST: Experiments

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 29 2014

Lessig's MayDayPAC announces its first targets; Pierre Omidyar explains where First Look Media is going; OKCupid shares some experiments it's done on users; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Unlocking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 28 2014

Why the GOP is having trouble catching up to the Dems on tech; how the cellphone unblocking bill shows the Internet's power (or not); civil rights groups "sell out" on net neutrality; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Software for Good

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 25 2014

Is the Internet not "Ready for Hillary"?; Streisand, the new anti-censorship tool; how Benentech develops software for good; and much, much more. Read More

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 24 2014

Heat Seek BigApps screenshot

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. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

An old-fashioned barn-raising in Lansing, Canada (circa 1900-1919)

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? Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: How SeeClickFix is Changing the Fabric of Local Reality

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

To see how people using the Internet can thicken civic engagement in deep and positive ways, there is no better example than SeeClickFix.com, a community platform that was founded in 2008 by Ben Berkowitz, a computer programmer living in New Haven, Connecticut, and his friends Miles and Kam Lasater and Jeff Blasius. Read More

First POST: Precrime

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

How the US government determines who to put on its "known or suspected terrorist" list, no-fly list and selectee list; Israelis sharing Gaza casualty news over social media; Twitter's diversity report; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Angry News Feed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 23 2014

How Facebook's News Feed may be accentuating negative political polarization; new tools for visualizing political corruption; how posting your cat's photo online gives away your location; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Addressable Transcendence

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 22 2014

What San Francisco techies and tenant activists have in common; the future of online political targeting; problems with Washington DC's new open data policies; and much, much more. Read More