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Detroit Ledger Tracks Detroit's Civic Foundation Complex

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, December 17 2013

Screenshot from Detroit Ledger

Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy ever in July, but for years now private foundations have attempted to fill the city’s public service gap with their own money, and their own agendas. Foundations like Ford, Knight, Kresge, and Skillman are investing hundreds of millions dollars to address the city’s failing schools, starving economy, and rescue its orphaned art collection. While foundational cash is preferable to a public service vacuum, it raises questions about access, influence, and accountability. Read More

Book Review: What Code for America Has, and Hasn't, Learned About Getting "Beyond Transparency"

BY Susannah Vila | Monday, November 18 2013

Code for America recently published a book of case studies written by members of its network. While it’s called Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation, its biggest value lies not in futurism but in the book's descriptions of the lessons learned by people working on open data releases in U.S. cities over the course of the past few years. Many of these examples could help local-level reformers now - both in the U.S. and overseas. And they also show that there's still a lot of hard work to be done moving from making civic data accessible to users, to actually getting people to use it. Read More

First POST: Snoop Dog

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 29 2013

Dianne Feinstein finally decides that the NSA hasn't been straight with the Senate Intelligence Committee; Kentucky's successful health care exchange; the latest Silicon Valley techno-libertarian rant; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Kludgeocracy

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 17 2013

Some shocking remarks from a top Silicon Valley VC about the government shutdown; more details on Pierre Omidyar's new online journalism endeavor with Glenn Greenwald; Code for America is thinking about how to help cities go "beyond transparency"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Boom

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 16 2013

Glenn Greenwald's leaving The Guardian for a new journalism start-up financed by Pierre Omidyar; news from the Code for America Summit; HealthCare.gov's dismal sign-up numbers; and much, much more. Read More

Four Years In, Code for America's Experiments In Disrupting Govt Still Just The Beginning

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, October 14 2013

One of Code for America's projects this year uses text messaging to notify food stamp recipients about their benefits

Code for America's projects may not end world hunger, overhaul a broken criminal justice system, or solve municipal budget crises in of themselves — but both citizens and government officials see promise in using the organization’s philosophy and techniques to work more closely together to incrementally solve these kinds of problems. That’s becoming increasingly evident as the San Francisco non-profit enters its fourth year and convenes its annual summit this week downtown. Officials from 85 cities both in the United States and abroad are getting together to discuss everything from the merits and limits of acquiring talent and technology through the social coding site Github to implementing municipal entrepreneurship-in-residence programs. Last year, officials from 30 cities attended. Read More

Government Shutdown Sets Off Data and API Scramble

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 3 2013

Among the many casualties of the government shutdown are the websites and data sources that researchers, civic hackers and others use on a regular basis for a variety of online applications, visualization projects and studies. The disappearance of resources like data.gov and census.gov has forced those relying on the data to act quickly to find creative solutions or work together to gather backed-up information. Read More

First POST: Longform

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Steven Johnson responds to Henry Farrell's critique of the "Tech Intellectuals"; Twitter's Evan Williams lays out his vision of the future of media; Freshman Rep. Justin Amash gets some respect for his NSA fight; and much, much more. Read More

Tom Slee and the Omidyar Network: Six Degrees of Skepticism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Is the Omidyar Network the new Standard Oil?

Tom Slee has penned a tough critique of the Omidyar Network's philanthropy, titled "Six Degrees of Omidyar," arguing that its venture capital investments "time and time again" have damaged "commons-based sharing" projects, pointing to investees like microfinance fund Unitus, Global Giving, CouchSurfing, Code for America and Change.org. As with all of Slee's writing, the piece is worth reading. But I think he's painting with far too broad a brush and has cherry-picked his evidence. Read More

[Op-Ed] The Future of Open Government in New York City

BY Noel Hidalgo | Friday, September 13 2013

NYC's old voting machines look a lot like this one at the Smithsonian

In this guest op-ed, Noel Hidalgo, the program manager for Code for America in NYC and co-founder of BetaNYC, looks back over the city's mixed record of open government initiatives, and asks whether recent progress will be continued by the new crop of candidates emerging from this past week's primary votes.

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