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WeGov

Nigerian Volunteers Google Map their Capital, Despite Some Local Skepticism

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

Abuja, Nigeria on Google Maps.

Reports have been coming in from the Google Map Maker initiative that was held in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja late last month, with Nigerians celebrating the project’s potential to improve commerce, navigability, and even public safety.  Read More

WeGov

How Mobile Can Hold Government Accountable for Clean Water Failures

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

In India, wastewater and drinking water supplies mingle in the street (Wikimedia Commons).

National Geographic’s online series Digital Diversity is back this week with a report from the Aquaya Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting group working on public health issues in the global water crisis.   The UN may have announced last spring that 89% of the global population now has access to improved water sources, yet for thousands these sources remain unreliable, and, in many cases, still unsanitary or unsafe.  While building the infrastructure to enhance the water supply can be a long process, spreading knowledge about whether a source is drinkable is one simple solution. 

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WeGov

Secret Raytheon Software is a Search Engine For Spying on Social Media Activity

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 14 2013

Screengrab from a video obtained by the Guardian, of a Raytheon employee demonstrating the uses of RIOT.

Earlier this week The Guardian broke the news that US-based defense contractor and security firm Raytheon has developed software over the past two years that can comprehensively track activity across social media platforms.  Across the web, people have weighed in on how this “Google for spies” will affect the future of surveillance – and the US government’s infiltration of the lives of foreign citizens. 

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WeGov

For Kenyans Living Abroad, Election Season Brings Frustrations

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 14 2013

The first Kenyan presidential debate was held on Monday, February 11 in Nairobi (YouTube screenshot)

Kenya’s first-ever presidential debate reached a worldwide audience on Monday night, nearly eclipsing the Pope’s resignation as top Twitter trend as eight candidates for the country’s highest office addressed key issues at stake in the March 4 election. Among the most active participants in the online discussion were members of the 3.5 million-strong Kenyan diaspora. For Kenyans living abroad, the success of the debate is a point of great pride.  Yet as election season progresses, many diasporans remain frustrated at not having a voice in the political process – even as their activism benefits Kenyans at home. 

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WeGov

In the Digital Age, An Unmapped Place Becomes a Forgotten Place

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, February 13 2013

Today’s digital maps can showcase a world of hyperlocal data and history; as of this past month, even North Korea has been meticulously cataloged by Google Maps volunteers.  Yet while some locations maintain a robust digital presence – with Wikipedia, Google, and other geolocational initiatives reinforcing their virtual existence – blank spots on the world map can fall behind exponentially, running the risk for digital obscurity. 

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WeGov

In Tiny Archipelago, Tensions Over the Future of Telecom

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, February 12 2013

The Spratly Islands (Wikimedia Commons).

Tiny, disputed Pacific archipelagos have been in the news recently, with Japan bolstering online security against Chinese hacks related to the Japanese claim on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.  Now another island chain is caught in a tug-of-war between several East Asian countries – and this time, the weapons of choice are mobile networks

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WeGov

On Social Media, the African Diaspora Redirects the Conversation on International Aid

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 8 2013

When the much-hyped Kony 2012 campaign crashed and burned last year, it became a symbol of the misguided approach taken by many glamour causes in international development.  The story quickly became a laughingstock in the international media.  Yet even before one of the campaign’s directors was found running naked on the streets of San Diego, Ugandans and other Africans living in diaspora were engaged in a social media takedown of Kony 2012. 

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WeGov

For the First Time, Japan's Government Hosts a Hackathon

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

Japan’s recent strides in open data have displayed a growing interest in transparency from both citizens and public officials.  A hackathon held this past weekend shows that the government is already letting developers in on one high-level project: maintaining national security. 

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WeGov

Australian Police Turn to Twitter #Mythbusting During Floods

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

A January 28 tweet from @QPSMedia

During natural disasters, social media can be an invaluable source of information – and misinformation.  The days leading up to Hurricane Sandy brought a digital flood of faked and misattributed photos of the storm to social networks. In times of crisis, false reports are easily circulated throughout a panicked population.  Yet the rapid proliferation of these rumors can be countered just as quickly on social networks. During Australia's flood-prone summer, law enforcement officials have been using a simple Twitter solution to curb the spread of disaster rumors. Read More

WeGov

What Can the TruthTeller App Do for Journalism?

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, February 6 2013

The Washington Post has launched TruthTeller, a prototype tool that fact-checks online videos by lining up spoken words against verified information sources.  The implications are big for catching politicians and other public figures in real-time lies, but what other uses could TruthTeller – which was born out of a Knight Foundation grant – be put to for journalistic practice?

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