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First POST: Role Models

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 24 2014

Applicants to George Washington University have an unusual role model; Is Twitter public, or should you only quote tweets with permission?; the future of open government in Philadelphia; and much, much more. Read More

Voting Information Project Prepares San Francisco Hackathon

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 24 2014

The Voting Information Project (VIP) is preparing for its third hackathon next weekend in San Francisco, with the aim of encouraging developers to draw on VIP election data and the Google Civic Information API to create tools that make elections information easily accessible to voters. Read More

WeGov

Second "Data as Culture" Exhibit Animates Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 24 2014

Screenshot from the short film about the art installation "Invisible Airs"

The second Data as Culture exhibit opens at the Open Data Institute (ODI) in London Monday evening. It features works of art built around and from open data sources, and is meant to provoke questions about data ownership and access and the fine line between public and private.

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WeGov

After Twitter Ban, Turkish Users Post Record Number of Tweets

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, March 21 2014

After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blocked Twitter Thursday night, Turkish tweets spiked an impressive 138 percent. As of Friday morning, nearly 2.5 million tweets had been sent from Turkey. That's roughly 17,000 tweets per minute, a new record for Turkey.

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First POST: Circumlocution and Circumvention

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 21 2014

Why everybody is talking about the NSA this morning; how Twitter and its users are responding to a crackdown in Turkey; how the Right is getting better at data-driven campaigns; and much, much more. Read More

PDM News: Building a Home for the "Internet Public" in NYC

BY Andrew Rasiej and Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 20 2014

Cheryl Contee and Erie Meyer at PDF 2013 (Photo by Esty Stein)

For the last nine months, we at Personal Democracy Media have been working on an exciting new project and big idea. It's time to pull back the curtain and tell you about it. We want to build a year-round physical community center, here in New York City, that will be a home for our community and all the people and organizations that we like to say are members of the “Internet public” (per Dave Parry). That is, we want to create a place where the same dynamic and diverse community that comes to Personal Democracy Forum every year--the doers and dreamers, the political activists and the civic hacktivists, public officials, public-minded entrepreneurs, the movement makers and shakers--can work and network together around common interests and solve problems. You can read more about it in our recently submitted Knight News Challenge proposal to help strengthen the open Internet. Read More

First POST: Take Me To the Moon

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 20 2014

Larry Page isn't happy about the NSA; Twitter backs off encrypting direct messages; Zeynep Tufekci explains why social media is a mixed blessing for social movements; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

China Gives Streaming TV the Red Carpet Censorship Treatment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, March 20 2014

Is House of Cards' reign coming to an end in China?

China keeps foreign media in the country on a tight, short leash, capping the number of foreign films at 34 a year. They also have an ever-expanding system of censoring the web known as the Great Firewall. So it surprised many when it turned out that House of Cards is wildly popular in China, and that it had “survived” the country's notorious censors. Well, that time might be coming to an end. The state media watchdog will now be following the “censor first, broadcast later” policy for streaming content that feature films have endured for decades.

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WeGov

Crowdfunding the Ukrainian Army (Updated)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

The "hijacked" campaign to trick Russians into supporting the Ukrainian army

After Ukraine's Defense Ministry launched their “Support Ukrainian Army” campaign, more than $1 million has been donated, a large chunk of it (more than $200,000) from individuals giving small amounts by texting '565.'

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WeGov

What Can "Forensic Architects" Tell Us About Drone Strikes and Genocide?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, March 19 2014

A woman works with a forensic architect in recreating the scene of a drone strike in Waziristan (Forensic Architecture)

A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths. 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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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

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