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Notes From a Weekend of Cross-Country Civic Hacking

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 24 2015

Civic hackers gather at Civic Hall for CodeAcross NYC (Photo: Civic Hall)

Code for America's fourth annual CodeAcross civic hacking event took place this past weekend, February 20 – 22, bringing together civically-minded technologists, designers, activists, organizers, and city government in roughly 60 communities around the world. The organizing theme for all events was “Principles for 21st Century Government,” although events varied in terms of duration and content. From Civic Hall in New York City to the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, to the University of Washington in Seattle, people gathered for data jams, hackathons, unconferences and collaboration.

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How Brigade is Taking Shape: An Interview with James Windon

BY Alex Howard | Tuesday, November 25 2014

James Windon speaking at Fusion Riseup 2014

The following is an edited transcript of an interview that Alex Howard conducted with James Windon, the president of civic engagement startup Brigade, last Wednesday November 19 at the Fusion RiseUp event in Washington, DC. That morning, Brigade had announced that it was partnering with a “carefully curated” set of organizations: Rainforest Action Network, Americans for Tax Reform, the Drug Policy Alliance, Represent.Us, Generation Opportunity, Forecast the Facts, FreedomWorks and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. With more than $9 million in venture funding from Napster co-founder Sean Parker, Brigade has been amassing a staff of more than 50 while remaining quiet about how it plans to launch and grow a new social network for civic engagement. In this interview, Windon explains why he thinks there’s still room for “yet another social network” and how Brigade will attract users: “one of the biggest reasons that people have stopped participating civically is because their civic lives have become decoupled from their social lives,” noting that the company will be primarily focused on people’s relationship to local issues and down-ballot representatives. He also addresses the inevitable questions about a for-profit business entering the civic space, saying,“our best bet at how we will monetize is through advertising.” Read More

Charge of the Light Brigade: Is Sean Parker's Civic Startup Too Male and White?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 25 2014

Screenshot from Brigade.com's About page

Brigade, the $9 million Silicon Valley civic engagement startup backed by billionaire Sean Parker that is promoting itself as restoring voters "to the center of our democracy," got a hard whack on Twitter today after it unveiled more details about its leadership team on its nascent website. Read More

Hearing Highlights Successes and Challenges of NYC's Open Data Law

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, November 21 2013

New York City Council members, transparency advocates and other advocacy groups on Wednesday had both praise and criticism for the implementation of the city's open data law, as they called for better agency compliance with the law's requirements, more user-friendly platforms and better responsiveness to public demands, as the city moves forward with its mayoral transition. The city emphasizes that it has released more data than any other U.S. city and that it has gone beyond what is required by the law. But while activists like Code for America's Noel Hidalgo praised the law for helping to make New York City a center for "civic hacking," civic hackers and other advocates said they are frustrated with the available data. Read More

Code For America Nudges Civic Coders With Launch Of CfA Brigades

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, March 13 2012

Civic hacking group Code for America unveiled its project to foster higher levels of digital civic engagement on Tuesday when it unveiled its Code for America Brigade web page. The site encourages people interested in ... Read More