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[Op-Ed] We Need a Yelp for Civic Engagement to Get the 21st Century Democracy We Want

BY Matt Leighninger | Thursday, February 26 2015

"Citizens could be assessing all kinds of civic opportunities." (yelp.com)

We have more opportunities to get involved in our communities, through a wider array of tools, processes, meetings, and apps than ever before. Some of these opportunities are interesting and beneficial, while others—especially the ones supported by governments in the name of public participation—can be frustrating and may even be harmful. So how should we judge? What kinds of public engagement are helpful?

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Scoring for Livability: How Place I Live Wants to Empower Homebuyers and Renters

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 25 2015

Screenshot of Place I Live ratings for a house in Bedford-Stuyvesant

Nobody ever says “I want to live somewhere with lots of pollution, crime and a high unemployment rate.” That, at least, is the assumption behind Place I Live, a website that aggregates, parses and creates visualizations with open data so potential homebuyers and renters can better understand different neighborhoods. Place I Live relaunched on Open Data Day, February 21, with new data and improved functionality.

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Notes From a Weekend of Cross-Country Civic Hacking

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 24 2015

Civic hackers gather at Civic Hall for CodeAcross NYC (Photo: Civic Hall)

Code for America's fourth annual CodeAcross civic hacking event took place this past weekend, February 20 – 22, bringing together civically-minded technologists, designers, activists, organizers, and city government in roughly 60 communities around the world. The organizing theme for all events was “Principles for 21st Century Government,” although events varied in terms of duration and content. From Civic Hall in New York City to the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, to the University of Washington in Seattle, people gathered for data jams, hackathons, unconferences and collaboration.

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First POST: The Matrix

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 17 2015

The NSA's spying tools; go file a complaint with the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal to see if the NSA illegally shared your communications with GCHQ before December 2014; Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe bats for Uber; and much, much more. Read More

On Jackie Robinson West and Coming to Terms With the Use (or Misuse) of Public Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 13 2015

These are boundaries in Chicago. (urbanoasis.org)

Earlier this week a Little League baseball team was stripped of their championship title because of a whistleblower. That is what Chris Janes is: a concerned citizen who perceived an injustice and acted accordingly, trawling through public records until he had the evidence to take to the appropriate authorities. So why does his triumph make people feel so bad?

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[Op-Ed] Full Spectrum Open Data

BY Matt Stempeck | Thursday, February 12 2015

Transparency and open government advocates have been successful in convincing governments around the world to share some of their data with society at large. (And thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, we'll soon know which data they're not sharing, as well). But there is plenty of important civic information that isn't collected or maintained by governments. We need to supplement open government data with data from others to give nonprofits, governments, and researchers a more holistic understanding of reality.

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First POST: Rules

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 10 2015

The biggest challenges at the intersection of the Internet and philanthropy; why Facebook users in the developing world might not know they're using the Internet; takeaways from the Twitter transparency report; and much, much more. Read More

DemocracyOS To Launch Online Platform in March

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 5 2015

Screenshot of the DemocracyOS live demo

"You are here to make decisions with others." That is the raison d'être of DemocracyOS: to help groups of people come to a decision in a democratic fashion. The team behind the software began working on the code in April 2012, and it has been available on Github for almost as long, but users had to be relatively savvy. The open-source platform they are currently developing, with support from Y Combinator, will allow anyone to launch a “democracy” in minutes, just as someone without any knowledge of code can launch a blog on Wordpress. That platform will launch in March.

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Civic Tech and Engagement: How and Why Nextdoor Brings Neighborhoods Online

BY Denise Cheng | Monday, February 2 2015

Nextdoor released a neighborly index report in 2013 (Nextdoor)

Nothing brings people together on the social network Nextdoor like a lost dog. "If Tahoe Park had a crest, it would be a running chihuahua,” joked Isaac Gonzalez, a site moderator for Nextdoor Tahoe Park, a neighborhood in Sacramento, California. "What galvanizes a lot of people is lost pets, but mainly dogs. Every time a chihuahua gets loose, there’s going to be a message about it." To Gonzalez, Nextdoor both exemplifies and amplifies what it means to have an involved, hyperlocal community.

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[Op-Ed] Bill Gates's Database of Global Citizens Will Not Be "Moneyball" for Activism

BY David Karpf | Monday, January 26 2015

The Gnomes' business plan (Wikipedia)

The World’s Richest Person has ideas for how to revolutionize social activism...as far as I can tell, it involves underpants gnomes.

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