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In San Francisco, Accelerating a "Civic Technology" Industry

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, May 16 2013

Code for America's San Francisco headquarters. Photo: mk30 / Flickr

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What does "civic technology" look like as a new subset of the software industry — a collection of startups that challenges existing heavyweights in government technology, or creates completely different tools? The Code for America Accelerator program invests seed money, time, and free food into a few new companies to find out. It's accepting applicants for its second year of operation. First-year participants tell Sam Roudman why they feel their year in Code for America's San Francisco headquarters was time well spent. Read More

Three Tech Initiatives for Combating the Spread of Malaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 1 2013

Mosquito via Wikipedia

Although prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in mortality rates from malaria by 25 percent since 2000, 3.3 billion people are still at risk for infection, according to the World Health Organization. The World Health Assembly’s goal is to reduce malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent (relative to the rates in 2000) by 2015. There are a number of new products or tools that help eliminate the spread of malaria, from tea to soap, but these are the top tech-based innovations:

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Some Knight News Challenge Semifinalists Sound Awfully Familiar

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, April 3 2013

How fitting for people so concerned with the future of news to want to spend so much money on the problems of the future rather than those of the present. Read More

With Sunlight and MySociety Grants, Google.org Signals Interest in Civic Technology

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Google.org announced today that it would be providing $3.7 million in funding to the Sunlight Foundation* and mySociety for their work on technological solutions for civic innovation. Read More

What Philadelphia's New "Director of Civic Technology" Is There to Do

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 15 2013

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's administration continues its own experiment in building a tech-savvy City Hall by appointing a "director of civic technology." Tim Wisniewski, 24, will move to the role from a position as assistant city managing director. He has been part of the city government since January 2012, and served prior to that as the executive director of a nonprofit working to improve commerce in the business corridor of a low-income neighborhood. While working for the city, he was the project manager on development of a mobile application for the city's 311 non-emergency services system. Read More

Civic Technologists Get Plaudits in GovTech's "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" Awards

BY Raphael Majma | Thursday, March 1 2012

The magazine Government Technology has awarded 25 individuals and groups as a part of their Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation program. The magazine releases an annual issue that recognizes “people who cut through the public sector's infamous barriers to innovation - tight budgets, organizational inertia, politics as usual, etc. - to reshape government operations for the better.” This year’s list includes a few folks that may be familiar to techPresident readers, including Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and executive director of Code for America, Bryan Sivak, Maryland's chief innovation officer, and Chicago’s social media director, Kevin Hauswirth, John Tolva, its chief technology officer, and Brett Goldstein, its chief data officer. Read More

With Plan for Prize, TED Promises Cash Awards to Boost Civic Life

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 1 2012

This year's TED Prize is going to the concept of "The City 2.0," the vision of a city of the future, that includes a new online platform to crowdsource ideas for improving the 21st century city. To that end, TED plans to distribute the usual $100,000 prize money as ten grants of $10,000 to local projects, all of which will be announced at the TED Global conference in June. According to Fast Company's Co.Exist, TED will announce the details of the grant awarding process in the coming months, Read More

Navigating New York's "Road Map for the Digital City," One Year In

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 8 2012

In May 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed a "Road Map for the Digital City," a plan to use technology to make city government more and participatory, and to leverage the city's tech sector for economic and civic gains.

New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne will join our editorial director, Micah Sifry, on a conference call this Friday afternoon to discuss the progress on that road map so far. The call is free and open to anyone to join. You can sign up here.

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New York City Calls for 'Brilliant' Tech Minds to Spur Voter Engagement

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, May 11 2011

The New York City Campiagn Finance Board announced the first four members of the new Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, a nine-member board of political appointees residing at CFB that is mandated in the City Charter ... Read More

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Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

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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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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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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