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WeGov

International Sanitation Hackathon Finalists Announced

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 27 2013

The Sanitation Hackathon website, with map indicating hacking site around the world.

Over one weekend last December, programmers in 40 cities across six continents took part in a simultaneous effort to develop tech-based solutions to sanitation problems. 1,100 participants in the World Bank-organized International Sanitation Hackathon ultimately developed 30 new apps, addressing issues from public defecation to inadequate menstruation resources to sewage disposal.  Last week the World Bank announced the top ten finalists

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WeGov

Top Saudi Cleric Calls Twitter "Corrupt," As Government Plans to Monitor Chat Services

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, March 26 2013

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on an official U.S. visit at the White House (photo: United States Government Work)

Of all the Middle Eastern countries that have been touched by the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia is known as one of the few where social media discourse has flourished, with Saudis from all walks of life sharing their experiences in the country on sites like Twitter, often under their own names.  That relatively open landscape may become more limited, after recent online outcry related to the criminal trials of several major political activists has brought forth a heated response from religious leaders and governmental officials.

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WeGov

The Chinese Government is Running A Smear Campaign Against Apple

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 25 2013

Apple is luring students into high-interest loans: screenshot from a news story from Xinhua/The China Daily last week.

Foxconn, the corporation that operates massive manufacturing plants for American-branded gadgets in China, reported a 16 percent profit increase for 2012 today, raising hopes that working conditions and wages will see more improvement for 1.2 million employees.  Apple, proprietor of iPhones and iPads and perhaps Foxconn’s best-known client internationally, has been at the center of a Chinese media firestorm over the past two weeks.  Yet the focus of accusations against Apple hasn’t been the people working the factory floors.  State media has now taken up arms against the company’s mistreatment of Chinese consumers.

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Where in the World is Eric Schmidt? This Week, Myanmar and India

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 21 2013

Eric Schmidt at the G8 Summit in 2011 (Wikimedia Commons).

After breaking ground for American corporate executives in North Korea this January (and taking his highly observant daughter along for the ride), Eric Schmidt is continuing his world tour of digitally repressive regimes this week.  Google’s executive chairman will visit Myanmar tomorrow, in the wake of the country’s first hesitant steps to Internet freedom.   Schmidt began his Southeast Asian trip with a pit stop in India yesterday, where the government has been pushing a tech agenda over the past year.

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To Fund a Political Rally, French Politician Turns to the Crowd

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 20 2013

Patrick Mennucci, on the Ulule page for Pour Marseille 2014.

Platforms like Kickstarter have gotten citizen activist movements off the ground around the world. Yet in Marseille, France, this week, a local official started a funding campaign for a political engagement rally in the city, in what may be the one of the first instances of a political office using a commercial crowdfunding site. Read More

WeGov

After Chavez, Social Media Picks Up for Venezuelan Politicians and Censors

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 20 2013

"He's becoming a wax doll." Pérez's tweet from March 8.

Longtime Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may have passed away earlier this month, but that won’t silence his voice on social media.  Chavez’s official Twitter account, from which he last tweeted to 4 million-plus followers in February as he entered the hospital, will be reactivated as a platform for the leader’s thoughts and works, as state media announced last week.  Yet recent reports of social media censorship – including a woman whose computer was confiscated by the police – confirm that, in the aftermath of Chavez’s death, Venezuela is taking a hard line on online discourse. 

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Open Academic Resources Offers Education Opportunities in Emerging Economies

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The launch of the Research Data Alliance this week could have major implications for the future of the academic community, bridging major institutions and driving collaborative innovation.  Yet the benefits of world universities opening their gates are more lateral than vertical, strengthening ties within communities that are already educationally privileged.  How do developing countries stand to benefit from open knowledge projects?

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Live in Google Hangout, One Indian Official Says Government's Participatory Democracy Effort is Elitist

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The Indian Government Planning Commission Google Hangout.

India’s government has been embracing a high-tech strategy over the past year, with new online portals and open data initiatives aiming to democratize civic life.  Last Friday, a Google Hangout with members of the Government Planning Commission was emblematic of these efforts.  But some viewers expressed skepticism that undermined the impact of the conversation, alleging that some of the “spontaneous” citizen questioners in the hangout were government plans. One commission member denounced the event live on camera.

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Open Science Breaks Down International Barriers for Researchers

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The Research Data Alliance website (screengrab).

Two decades ago, scientists at CERN in Switzerland were among the earliest non-military users of the World Wide Web, posting the first photo to what had been a purely text-based medium, among other innovations.  This week, an international group from the scientific community aims to set new precedents for the future of the Internet, with the launch of a major open data initiative for research and knowledge. 

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After Karzai Speech, Afghans Call Out U.S. Journo's Analysis on Twitter

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 14 2013

Hamid Karzai at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos (image: World Economic Forum/Flickr)

A Daily Beast article that was critical of Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier this week has sparked social media backlash from Afghanis, who say that the American author glossed over real political conditions in the country for the sake of an inflammatory argument. 

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