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WeGov

Buenos Aires, A Pocket of Civic Innovation in Argentina

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, December 10 2013

Last week, Buenos Aires' Open Government launched an interactive timeline of its 100-year-old subway sytem (Credit: Screenshot)

In only a few years, the government, civil society and media in Buenos Aires have actively embraced open data. The Buenos Aires city government has been publishing data under a creative commons license and encouraging civic innovation through hackathons. NGOs have launched a number of tech-driven tools and Argentina's second largest newspaper, La Nación, has published several hard-hitting data journalism projects. The result is a fledgling but flourishing open data culture in Buenos Aires, in a country that has not yet adopted a freedom of information law. Read More

WeGov

Activists Put a Hole in the Great Firewall of China

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, November 18 2013

The man with the golden cam/flickr

When the Chinese versions of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal were censored on Friday, the team at GreatFire.org quickly got to work in restoring them by creating what they call “mirror sites.” Much like a reflection, they are essentially impossible to eliminate without causing significant economic damage to China, according to Great Fire co-founder Charlie Smith. Read More

WeGov

Raspberry Pi Tackles the Great Firewall and Peruvian Amazon

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, November 13 2013

The low-cost computer has inspired a number of projects for social good (GijsbertPeijs/flickr)

When Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, he had no inkling its reach would extend beyond England’s borders and do more than inspire UK’s youth to program. A little went a long way. Thousands of miles, in fact, to places as far from the UK as China, India and as remote as the Peruvian Amazon. The Raspberry Pi, first conceived by Upton in 2006 and released in February of last year, is produced by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. Since then, it has sold 1.2 million units worldwide and was named the top 100 most inspiring social tech innovations by the Nominet Trust, which has noted its use in developing countries as a low-budget tool or computer. Read More

WeGov

Italy, a Test Lab for Participatory Democracy

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Beppe Grillo Rallying the Crowd at Piazza Dante in Naples. (Avanguardie.info Web Magazine/flickr)

Online platforms for participatory democracy are flourishing in Italy and they are being initiated by civil society and local governments alike. Some of these tools are limited to 'social reporting,' where citizens are asked to recount problems and disruptions; others strive for empowering people with some sort of liquid democracy that allows people to debate and even propose legislation. But all of these platforms grew out of a deep dissatisfaction toward Italian politics and politicians. Now, a variety of tools to enable bottom-up decision making are being tested by local municipalities in Italy and being developed by small groups of volunteers. 
 Read More

WeGov

Can Facebook Zero Aid Development Work in Africa?

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, October 28 2013

Usha Venkatachallam, founder of a technology consulting company, divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Coimbatore, India, but the global nature of her development work has recently led her to Uganda where she is working on creating a digital health platform in Apac, a remote rural area of the country. Part of the project will utilize Facebook Zero, which Venkatachallam says will prove useful for engaging users in “resource constrained environments.” Read More

WeGov

Apple Kicks Out Another Anti-Censorship App From Their Chinese Store

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 25 2013

Just when it seemed like a small opening for controversial apps had appeared in the Chinese Apple App store, it quickly closed again. Yesterday, GreatFire.org's Free Weibo, a tool that allows you to search and find censored tweets on China’s popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, was finally made available in the Apple apps store in China after being previously blocked. When I asked Charlie Smith, who along with Martin Johnson created Great Fire, a website that monitor's censorship in China, "why the sudden reversal?", the answer was clear: it was an oversight. Read More

WeGov

Looking to Draft a Constitution? Now You Can Google It

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, October 17 2013

Screenshot of the website

Constitute, a new platform created by the Comparative Constitutions Project in partnership with Google Ideas is a tool to "read, search and compare" constitutions from over 170 countries. Read More

WeGov

Quién Manda: A Pinterest For Politician and Lobbyist Relations?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, October 8 2013

http://quienmanda.es/

Some day, the term ‘El Fotomandón’ may give Spanish politicians the jitters. El Fotomandón is, in some sense, like a paparazzi meets Pinterest for politician and lobbyist relations, displaying photos of them interacting together. These so-called ‘protagonistas’ are tagged with their full name and titles. It belongs to the site, Quién Manda (‘Who’s Your Boss?’), launched today by Civio, a civil interest group that works on transparency issues in Spain. Its mantra is to bid ‘bye, bye to opacity’ and ‘hello to democracy.’ Read More

WeGov

Move Over Skype. For a More Secure Chat, There’s OStel.

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, October 7 2013

sparktography/flickr

As Edward Snowden’s leaks have revealed, none of our digital devices are truly safe from prying eyes, including Skype. As of February 2011, the U.S. government has had the capacity to monitor Skype calls and in July of this year, several newspapers exposed the level of cooperation Skype has had with the government in monitoring calls; the NSA apparently tripled its level of monitoring since July of last year, nine months after Microsoft bought the application. There is now a Skype alternative called OStel, offered by the Guardian Project, an organization that creates secure, open-source communications software that often assists those living under censorship. Read More

WeGov

Notes From Last Week’s Skill Share on Citizen Reporting

BY Susannah Vila | Monday, October 7 2013

One way to grow good ideas is by sharing. (image: tiff_ku1/flickr)

We’re experimenting with methods to help advocacy initiatives directly share experiences, tactics and lessons without needing to comb the web for projects relevant to their own work or access the international conference circuit. We want to find mechanisms that make such peer-­to-­peer sharing as efficient and impactful as possible. One of the things we’re testing out is convening and then sharing online conversations about specific tactics and how they work in different contexts. We’re calling these conversations skill shares. We held the first one last week and we wanted to share a bit of of what we learned. For this conversation we focused on tactics for getting citizens to share quality reports about the delivery of public services. Read More