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WeGov

How To Follow… The Crisis in Ukraine (Updated)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 3 2014

Kiev, February 18, 2014 (Аимаина хикари/Wikipedia)

The EuroMaidan Revolution has passed the 100 day mark and Russian forces have taken control of parts of Crimea. The New York Times described the escalating conflict between Russia and the West as “reminiscent of low points in the Cold War.” The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said that “we are on the brink of disaster.”

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WeGov

Citizens Use Technology to Fight Crime in Guyana

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Screen shot of Guyana Crime Reports

With mapping technology and social media platforms at your fingertips, you no longer need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to take crime fighting into your own hands. Case in point: Guyana Crime Reports, which marries data journalism, mapping and crowdsourcing to make a powerful tool for citizen crime fighting.

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Review: Jehane's Noujaim's Egypt Documentary "The Square"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 17 2014

Congregating in Tahrir Square in 2011 (Jonathan Rashad/Wikipedia)

In “The Square,” director Jehane Noujaim draws out the human element—passion, conflict, conviction, confusion, indecision, doubt—in the ongoing Egyptian Revolution, which is so often described by a sterile counting of protesters or casualties. Noujaim's camera brings the viewer into an inner circle of young revolutionaries, and through them we experience a roller coaster of anticipation and dashed hopes, of trust and subsequent betrayal.
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WeGov

Mainstream Media Coverage of Syrian War "Arguably Misleading"; Here's What They Did Wrong

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Today's edition of “don't believe everything you find on the Internet” comes from a new report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on social media and the Syrian Civil War, which the authors call “the most socially mediated civil conflict in history.” It is the third report in the USIP's “Blogs and Bullets” series.

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WeGov

Citizen Journalists Take On Rape And Domestic Violence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, December 3 2013

ALMOST anyone can report through CGNet Swara (Flickr/sarahamina)

In August I wrote about a citizen journalism project in India called CGNet Swara, which residents of the central Indian state Chhattisgarh were using as a kind of government watchdog/accountability site. Since then, reports per day have nearly doubled, up to 400 a day, and a Global Post story highlights how the tool is being used by women to combat rampant rape and domestic violence.

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First POST: Contained Fury

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Members of the House Intelligence Committee disagree about whether the NSA has kept them fully informed; Sen. Rand Paul a serial plagiarizer?; An antidote to technolibertarianism; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Citizen Journalism and mGovernance in Rural India

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 19 2013

Imagine nearly 20 million people without access to news and current events. In the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, language barriers, illiteracy, lack of Internet access and strict radio regulations exclude millions living in rural communities from the mainstream media. A voice messaging service called CGNet Swara overcomes those obstacles and empowers anyone in rural India with a cell phone to become a citizen journalist.

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WeGov

Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 19 2013

Screenshot of Citizen Desk's beta version (Sourcefabric.org)

The municipal elections in Mozambique are over four months away but short-staffed newsrooms are already preparing to deal with the persistent conundrum: how do they accurately cover the elections with over 2,500 polling stations to monitor across the country? A new tool called Citizen Desk allows newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections. 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

WeGov

New Online Platform for Crowdsourced Videos About Human Rights Issues

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 23 2013

Screenshot from Irrepressible Voices video on YouTube

Anyone with a phone and an Internet connection can be a citizen journalist, as was made clear in the hours and days after the Boston Marathon Bombings. Citizen journalism has its pros and cons, but it has popped up where most needed: after natural disasters or in war torn regions where career journalists might be barred. A new human rights initiative seeks to link citizen reporting in the form of online videos with mainstream media, governments and other policy makers. The online platform, called Irrepressible Voices, will both document human rights issues and work on solutions as a community.

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News Briefs

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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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