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Jersey Shore Hurricane News: Using Facebook and Crowdsourcing to Build a News Network

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 19 2014

Jersey Shore Hurricane News has grown into a news outlet for much more than just severe weather updates (credit: Robert Siliato)

When Hurricane Irene barreled down on the East Coast in 2011, one news source had some irregular advice from one New Jerseyan to another: "Fill up some Ziploc bags with water NOW and freeze....keep them on hand for when we lose power and you need that ice to keep the beer cold." The tip was punctuated not with a period but with a smiley face, and it was first posted to Facebook, the home of a new citizen journalism outlet: Jersey Shore Hurricane News.

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Civic Tech and Engagement: How Network-Centric Organizing Made the People's Climate March

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 22 2014

Hundreds of thousands marched for climate change in New York (South Bend Voice/flickr)

At a reported 400,000 people, yesterday's People's Climate March was purportedly four times larger than expected. Other articles may feature the celebrities who turned out for a photo-op; this one is concerned with everyone else, the “odd juxtapositions” of a Muslim marching next to a Christian, a pagan next to a monk, and the work (and tech) that went into getting them there.

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WeGov

The Uncertain Future of India's Plan to Biometrically Identify Everyone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 28 2014

Biometric data collection in Howrah, India (Photo: Biswarup Ganguly)

Since its launch in 2010, people in India have raised a number of questions and concerns about the Aadhaar card —formally known as Unique Identification (UID)— citing its effects on privacy rights, potential security flaws, and failures in functionality. Read More

WeGov

In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 20 2014

A scene from the mountain range in Mexico that foreign companies hope to mine for gold and silver.

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 14 2014

#NMOS14 infographic by @dakrolak

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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WeGov

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 13 2014

Screenshot of the four tools

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

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A Man, an Icon, a Message: Milton Glaser v. Climate Change Skeptics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 6 2014

Screenshot itsnotwarming.com

Can an icon save us from catastrophic climate change? That is the hope behind a new campaign launched last month by Milton Glaser, the designer who created the “I (heart) NY” logo. The campaign seeks to derail the current climate change “debate” in favor of a stronger message: “It's not warming it's dying.” To accompany that message, Glaser created a starkly simple icon of a green circle nearly entirely eclipsed by a black shadow.

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Google Street View Cars Measure Methane Gas Leaks

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 1 2014

Screenshot of the three EDF maps: Boston, Indianapolis, and Staten Island

Cities degrade. Potholes may jar us and delays due to construction may irritate us, but it is impossible to perceive the full extent of a city's decay. Environmental Defense Fund, however, has partnered with Google Earth Outreach to make visible one environmental hazard of aging infrastructure: natural gas leaks. Earlier this month they published maps of leaks in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island. The project was the first for which Google Earth Outreach deployed Street View cars for environmental research purposes.

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WeGov

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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In Brooklyn, Testing a Texting Platform That Connects Locals, Representatives & Community Leaders

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 14 2014

The neighborhoods in Brooklyn where Heartgov is being tested.

Civic engagement shouldn't be a one way street. In New York City, for example, you can text 311 to report something like a pot hole, but what if you wanted to start a dialogue about charter schools in your neighborhood? The information hotline wasn't built to handle conversations like that, but a new text message-based platform called HeartGov is.

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