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First POST: Print is Dead

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 6 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What to make of Jeff Bezos's purchase of the Washington Post; more reverberations from the NSA surveillance scandal; a British government agency proves you can make smart use of the web AND work in government; and more in today's round-up of news about technology in politics from around the web. Read More

First POST: Oversight

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 5 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers:How congressional "oversight" of the NSA doesn't work; Bruce Sterling and Tom Scott's mordant takes on our times; the growing backlash against Jim Messina going Tory; and more in today's round-up of news about technology in politics from around the web. Read More

We Bid Adieu to Nick Judd

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 2 2013

Today is Nick Judd's last day at techPresident, as he is taking off for a few weeks of well-earned R&R before heading off to graduate school at the University of Chicago to study sociology. In his nearly four years with us, he reported intensively on the tech-politics industry, oversaw our news-site redesign and upgrade, drove our coverage of the 2012 presidential cycle, and led our forays into e-book publishing. Among his outstanding work was early and solid reporting on the rise of civic technology (see his 2011 story on Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics), his in-depth coverage of the role of tech in the rise of Occupy Wall Street, and his stewardship of our 2010 10Questions.com project. Read More

The Top Tech-Politics Developments of 2013, So Far

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 1 2013

Every six months or so, we add more items to our "Politics and the Internet" Timeline, a living document that now includes more than 160 items stretching back to 1968 and covering a range of domestic, international and online events. Keep in mind, this isn't an official list but just our best subjective judgment on the most important developments at the intersection of technology and politics. If you would like to suggest something that we've left out, or make a correction to the record, please use this form. After the jump--Here's what we've added for the period from January 2013 to the end of July: Read More

[Editorial] Reading Hillary Clinton on Internet Freedom and Edward Snowden

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 2 2013

German Pirate Party demonstration in Berlin during President Obama's recent visit (Photo by Mike Herbst, Flickr)

In the wake of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations, techPresident's editorial director Micah Sifry wonders, what, if anything, is left of Hillary Clinton's "Internet Freedom" agenda. The answer is not much. Read More

Book Review: Is the Internet Just Another Example of Monopoly Capitalism At Work?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 27 2013

Robert McChesney speaking at the 2008 National Conference on Media Reform (Photo from Blip.tv)

Robert McChesney, who is one of the cofounders of Free Press, the author of several books on the media, and a professor at the University of Illinois, says he always wanted to write a book about the Internet and the larger digital revolution. But he held off, because "grasping the Internet was like trying to shoot a moving target in a windstorm." Then he and John Bellamy Foster co-authored a 2011 article called "The Internet's Unholy Marriage to Capitalism" for Monthly Review and it hit a chord. The time, McChesney says, was finally ripe. I wish he had held his fire. Here's why: McChesney doesn't quite get the Internet. Again and again, in Digital Disconnect, he conflates the free and open net with the larger digital ecosystem, eliding or underplaying important distinctions between the actions and ambitions of big tech and communications companies and the behavior of individuals and networks online. Read More

Book Review: Our Computers, Ourselves--Living With Present Shock

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, June 21 2013

Douglas Rushkoff speaking at PDF 2013 (Photo by Esty Stein/Personal Democracy Media)

I read Douglas Rushkoff's new book Present Shock two months ago, and found myself underlining and taking notes on nearly every page. Somehow, he ties together dozens of seemingly disparate phenomena--the popularity of reality TV, the death of ideology, how news has been replaced by spectacle, our compulsion to constantly "check in" on our digital inputs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, even our culture's fascination with zombies and impending apocalypse--and finds the signal in all the noise. It's worth a listen. Here's my review. Read More

Notes on Curation: Looking Back on #PDF13, And Ahead

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, June 11 2013

Photo: Esty Stein / Personal Democracy Media

Did we "Think Bigger?" Yes! Beyond the many great individual talks and panels, I was struck to see several cross-cutting themes emerge over Personal Democracy Forum 2013's two days. Read More

WeGov

WeGov News: New Staff, New Partnerships, New Backing!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 5 2013

techPresident's WeGov section is bulking up with a new staff editor, an expanded editorial mandate, a partnership with the engine room, and fresh infusions of support from the Omidyar Network and the United Nations Foundation. Read More

#PDF13: Here's the Breakout Schedule: 90+ Speakers; 20+ Great Sessions [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, May 20 2013

The scene at PDF 2012's opening

We're almost done nailing down the schedule for Personal Democracy Forum 2013, just a little less than three weeks away. In addition to our main hall keynotes, we're pleased to be offering more than 20 in-depth breakout sessions featuring an amazing array of 90 expert speakers. This year we've developed several core tracks for the breakouts: Net-powered organizing, the growing civic stack, tech policy, and political data. We also will be offering a few sponsored sessions with partners from Mozilla, Omidyar Network, Thoughtworks and a special workshop run by GitHub. Here's what we have lined up for you in each track... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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