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First POST: Experiments

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 29 2014

Lessig's MayDayPAC announces its first targets; Pierre Omidyar explains where First Look Media is going; OKCupid shares some experiments it's done on users; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Headlining

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 15 2014

Republican efforts to catch up to Democratic techies begin to bear fruit; TV ads are getting targeted at specific viewers; comments to the FCC on its net neutrality/open Internet proposal close down; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Solely

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 10 2014

Human rights and civil rights group call for answers on NSA/FBI spying on American Muslims; Senator Warner asks FTC for new regulations on big data usage; what political uprisings have to do with Brazil's World Cup collapse; and much, much more. Read More

Why Facebook's 'Voter Megaphone' Is the Real Manipulation to Worry About

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

Two years ago, on the morning of the 2012 election in the United States, I got an email with an urgent subject line: "You should write the story of how Facebook blew an opportunity to turn out 300k voters." The sender, a veteran progressive online activist who would prefer to remain anonymous, was upset for good reason. The election was bound to be close, and as of 10am that morning he hadn't yet seen an "I'm Voting" button on his Facebook page, nor had another colleague of his. Nor was one on my own Facebook page. Given that when Facebook deployed a similar "I Voted" button in 2010, and added messages in users' News Feeds showing them the names and faces of friends who had said they voted, the cumulative effect boosted turnout then by at least 340,000 votes, these activists had good reason to be concerned. Facebook had announced that it was going to do the same thing in 2012, and this time around its American user base had grown enormously, from 61 million to more than 160 million. A social and visible nudge like an "I 'm Voting" button had the potential to measurably increase turnout, even more so as Facebook was including a useful tool to help people find their polling places. And yet on Election Day 2012 its deployment was far from universal. Facebook was conducting research on us. Read More

WeGov

Ushahidi's CrisisNet Aims to Provide Usable Crisis Data "Within Seconds"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Screenshot: Ushahidi.com

Open source technology-maker Ushahidi only made their new crisis data tool public this week, but there are already several neat examples of potential uses, like this map of social media-reported violence in Syria and an analysis of the Twitter protests of the 2014 World Cup. Co-founder Chris Albon describes CrisisNet as a “crisis data firehose” that automates time consuming processes like cleaning and formatting data streams to make it easier and much faster for crisis responders to make use of crowdsourced information.

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Edward Snowden, a Year Later

BY Fabio Chiusi | Wednesday, June 4 2014

A protest against the European parliament's refusal to offer Snowden protection (greensefa/flickr)

One year has passed since Edward Snowden revealed himself to the world as the whistleblower who leaked hundreds of National Security Agency documents and exposed the true scope and workings of its mass surveillance operations. What have we learned thanks to Snowden's revelations? What has the government done and has anything changed for the better? Read More

WeGov

After NETmundial, Multistakeholder Statement Criticized as "Weak, Toothless...Sterile"

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, April 29 2014

A peaceful protest during NETmundial (photo by Camille François/Twitter)

While Netmundial did advance some important issues, such as recognizing the Internet as a global resource and the right to development as enabled by the Internet, the culmination of the conference, with the drafting of the Multistakeholder Statement did not live up to the expectations of many attendees, especially the members of civil society who had come to address issues like privacy, net neutrality and the future of Internet governance. At issue was the conference's multistakeholder approach, which sought to include the voices of thousands of those from government, academia, the private sector, civil society and the technical community, but failed to address power imbalances which gave some voices more weight, even disproportionately, one might argue. Read More

First POST: Wheeler Dealer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 24 2014

The FCC wants to allow "commercially reasonable" discrimination online; net neutrality advocates protest; Comcast Country (aka "Philadelphia") comes under scrutiny; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, April 23 2014

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. Read More

WeGov

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 23 2014

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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News Briefs

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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