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First POST: Wartime

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 24 2014

A bizarre online marketing effort targets actress Emma Watson; why the news media needs to defend the privacy of its online readers; Chicago's playbook for civic user testing; and much, much more. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: In Search of a Common Language

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 5 2014

Marten van Valkenborsch, Construction of the Tower of Babel (c. 1600)

We need much clearer language to describe civic tech. Too often, people working in this field struggle to put into words what it is they are striving for. It's not enough to assume that, like the Supreme Court and obscenity, we know good civic tech when we see it. And if we can't say why something is good (or even great), how can we know what to design for? Indeed, how do we even know if we're after the same design goals? Read More

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

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

An old-fashioned barn-raising in Lansing, Canada (circa 1900-1919)

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? Read More

WeGov

Recycling Phones to Raise Funds for mHealth Initiatives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, December 19 2013

What can your old phone do? (Flickr/Phil Roeder)

A nonprofit organization that runs mHealth programs in 20 different countries has started a campaign that collects old cell phones and recycles them, using the profits to fund their humanitarian work. Hope Phones is one of those classic kill-two-birds-with-one-stone organizations: tackling the problem of cellphone waste and fundraising for their humanitarian mission at the same time.

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The Three Different Meanings of "Internet Activism"

BY Nick Judd | Friday, January 4 2013

In an article for its upcoming print edition, Economist discovers the politics of the Internet. In an extended primer appearing in its Jan. 5 print edition, the venerable magazine explores the world of Internet freedom activists — people who love the Internet as it is and view the fight to preserve freedom of information as political trench warfare across multiple theaters: before state regulators, in corporate boardrooms, in Congress, in the court of public opinion, and in the design of the hardware and programming of the software that keeps the Internet running.

The piece is worth a read, but the Economist has trouble sussing out two or three different forces at play when it comes to "Internet activism."

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Can Celebrities On Twitter Use Their Fame for Good?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 22 2012

Actor Josh Charles has often tweeted about his support for high-speed rail and gay marriage rights. Actress Eva Longoria recently tweeted her support for President Obama's new illegal immigration policy. In the future, could such celebrity endorsements all become much more coordinated, mirroring the Kony 2012 effect? That's what singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson is betting on. Yesterday he announced a new initiative to harness Twitter as a tool for celebrities to raise awareness and help promote good causes. One close observer of online activism says this kind of online buzz is nothing but a "silly idea." Read More

UPDATED: The Art of Anonymous

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, December 16 2010

Here's a look at some of the propaganda circulating around the Internet — largely from anonymous authors, natch — advocating for Anonymous or for Wikileaks. Source: Various (No Flash? Here's the Flickr set ... Read More

'I Lose Sleep Over Upvotes -- Seriously:' How a Subreddit Became a Social Action

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, December 14 2010

How quickly can activism move on the Internet? In just over a month, Eddie Geller went from an angry Internet person, frustrated about the direction that the policy fight over net neutrality was taking, to the co-founder ... Read More