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Spain's Draft Law on Transparency and Access to Information Disappoints Civil Society NGOs

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, August 15 2012

Spain is the only large European democracy that lacks a law mandating government transparency and the right of citizens to access information. Recently, in response to public demands and the country's deepening economic and social crisis, the government passed a Draft Law on Transparency and Access to Information. But the law does not include clauses that civil society groups regard as fundamental — such as the recognition that access to information is a citizen's fundamental right. Read More


Is This the Rise of the Civic Hacker Hub?

BY David Eaves | Thursday, August 2 2012

The tech startup space has a long history of creating work spaces that bring together the various players — VCs, ideas people, business types and developers – necessary to launch new projects. Some of these spaces — the iHub in Nairobi strikes me as the most powerful example — have served as hosts to hackathons and sessions that bring together a similar set of actors in the open government and civic hacking space. It will be interesting to see if efforts to transfer that model to the opengov space develop. Read More


Ukrainian Civic Movement Unveils Online Tool to Monitor Parliament Members

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, July 30 2012

A new tool for monitoring parliament members' activity is now available online, the Kyiv Post reports. The tool has been created by Chesno (“honest”), a civic movement founded a year ago by a group of civil society organizations with the aim of empowering citizens with information tools and improving their knowledge and political choices. Read More


Succeeding Means Letting Go: A Response to David Eaves

BY Tom Steinberg | Thursday, July 26 2012

Responding to David Eaves, mySociety Director Tom Steinberg pulls the lid off of a project in the works: a new open-source component for civic hackers, built by Chile's Ciudadano Inteligente, that will fit into mySociety's new Components framework. "It's because we believe," Steinberg writes, "that the only way that the Components can really thrive beyond our organizations is if they are truly interoperable over the web, truly owned by different people, and if they can handle massively varying political and cultural contexts. It is our goal that in the future any of the Components being used to underpin a website or app can be out and replaced by a clone that speaks the same API, but which may be built by a different group, in a different language. Interoperability and flexibility are everything." Read More


Mapping Technology Allows NGOs to Coordinate Disaster Relief in West Africa

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, July 26 2012

Screenshot from SahelResponse website

In a textbook example of how technology can be used to coordinate crisis management, SahelResponse has created a map that helps NGOs coordinate food relief in the drought-and-conflict -afflicted Sahel region of West Africa. Read More


Is Civic Hacking Becoming 'Our Pieces, Loosely Joined?'

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, July 25 2012

David Eaves writes: "So far, it appears that the spirit of re-use among the big players, like MySociety and the Sunlight Foundation*, only goes so deep. Indeed often it seems they are limited to believing others should re-use their code. There are few examples where the bigger players dedicate resources to support other people's components. Again, it is fine if this is all about creating competing platforms and competing to get players in smaller jurisdictions who cannot finance creating whole websites on their own to adopt it. But if this is about reducing duplication then I'll expect to see some of the big players throw resources behind components they see built elsewhere. So far it isn't clear to me that we are truly moving to a world of 'small pieces loosely joined' instead of a world of 'our pieces, loosely joined.'" Read More


Ushahidi and the Long Tail of Mapping for Social Change

BY David Eaves | Monday, July 9 2012

What makes a mapping project successful? Image: Trafficking map Epawa SMS

A new website called DeadUshahidi launched recently with the express purpose of tracking Ushahidi mapping projects that experienced little use. While the Ushahidi team responded in good form, but it was hard not to see the website as a shot across its bow.

David Eaves explores why there are so many Ushahidi-powered mapping projects that appear to have fallen by the wayside — and why that might actually be a good thing for people who want to use geospatial data for social change.

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How the German Pirate Party's "Liquid Democracy" Works

BY David Meyer | Monday, May 7 2012

In the midst of the political upheaval affecting Europe, a relatively new movement is making stunning progress, particularly in Germany. On Sunday, the Pirate Party entered its third German state parliament in eight months, demonstrating momentum that surprises even its core members. The party is now on track to pick up a double-digit percentage of the vote in next year's federal elections. And it's dealing with this explosive growth through the medium it knows best: technology. Read More


The Opportunities and Challenges of the Open Government Partnership

BY David Eaves | Monday, April 23 2012

A multilateral partnership on open government and transparency, the Open Government Partnership is still in a formative stage — just learning how to walk. But it will be tested early by a number of issues and how the steering committee reacts over the next few months are likely to determine the fate of the initiative — whether it becomes a transformative body that fosters and supports strong new expectations for what qualifies a country as open and democratic or if it becomes more of a talking shop, like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which shepherds along more incremental progress. Read More


The Three Branches of We.Gov

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 14 2009

There’s a very interesting confluence of conversations taking place at the moment on the topic of how technology is changing politics. One is on the idea of government 2.0, or government-as-a-platform. The second is on ... Read More