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Dems Debate Whose Campaign Tools to Trust: NGP VAN or NationBuilder

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 1 2012

As Democratic campaigners search for the best tools to track voters and voter contacts, some of them are looking at working with their voter data in a platform from the upstart nonpartisan firm NationBuilder instead of with software from NGP VAN, which many Democrats have used for years. And two of those candidates have received a strong message from their state Democratic Party organizations: Stick with the tools we’re already using. Read More

WeGov

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

NGP VAN Releases Utility for Supporters to Turn Facebook Friends Into Voters

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 24 2012

NGP VAN has released a new tool built to allow a candidate's supporters contact the likely voters that they find among their Facebook friends. The new tool is based on an earlier one that the company tested out in fall 2011 during the battle in Ohio over public sector unions, said Stuart Trevelyan, NGP VAN's CEO. The updated platform with a new interface allows users to not just engage their friends with virtual phone banks, but also with e-mails, social sharing and e-postcards, he said, and integrates it with gamification options like points and badges. Read More

WeGov

Brazil's Open-Government Shock Treatment

BY Greg Michener | Wednesday, June 27 2012

Officials in Brazil's government have had a transparency shock treatment in the past year. Photo: Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

Countries arrive at more transparency and greater freedom of information either through long training or sudden shock treatment.

The U.S. experience, with decades of incremental law and legal precedent, is synonymous with the archetypical training regime. Brazil, on the other hand, is undergoing the epitome of shock treatment. In one month, May 2012, Brazil formally launched an ambitious freedom of information law that outlines a "right to information" – replete with provisions for the release of information in open, computer-readable formats – and, at around the same time, a new open-data portal. For added shock, the Brazilian government inaugurated a second new fundamental right, the "right to historical truth." This right is embodied by the newly established Truth Commission, whose aim it is to reconcile abuses from the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Brazil also currently occupies the co-chair of the Open Government Partnership. In short, Brazil is in the midst of a massive transparency offensive and there are positive signs that it is moving in the right direction.

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In Facebook Nation, Privacy Activists Trigger a Vote On Policy

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 1 2012

Facebook's American stance on privacy clashes with European expectations. Image: Paul Butler

Way back in the long-long ago, before Facebook was a publicly traded company, the site established a governance policy that it said created room for its users to become part of the in-crowd that establishes its rules and norms. That hasn't stopped the regular reoccurrence of freakouts over design changes, revolts against adjustments to the terms of service, and the departure of this or that prominent writer or tech-head. After all, the governance mechanism — under which the company pledges to open up for broader user debate any proposed policy changes to accrue over 7,000 comments — had only been used once before.

Until today, that is, when a group of users led by Austrian Facebook birddogger Max Schrems accrued nearly 48,000 comments on proposed changes to the social network's data use policy. As a result, the policy is up for a vote by all Facebook users, presenting a rare test of the social network's ability to balance its status as a publicly traded company with its unique place in the digital public square.

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WeGov

Hoping to Help Curb Corruption in Morocco by Mapping It Online

BY Hanna Sistek | Wednesday, May 30 2012

Illustration: kentoh via Shutterstock

Tarik Nesh-Nash conceived of and became part of the team that built Mamdawrinch, a just-launched site to map incidents of bribery in Morocco. Built with Transparency Maroc, the Moroccan chapter of Transparency International, the site tackles what Nesh-Nash says is an "endemic" problem in the North African country. Transparency International ranks perception of corruption in Morocco as about as bad as it is in Greece and Columbia, but slightly better than in India. ("Mamdawrinch" means "we will not bribe" in Moroccan dialect.) The focus, says Nesh-Nash, is on the petty corruption that has become part of everyday life in Morocco. "I wanted to open up the debate on the topic," says Nesh-Nash. Read More

Changing Winds for Open Data at the National Weather Service

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 25 2012

Preview of weather.gov

The National Weather Service is going to update its weather alerts for the 21st century. Weather data has long been held up as a prime example of how government data can spur private enterprise, as an entire industry has evolved to interpret and package meteorological data coming from government sources. Now, the Weather Service is updating how it offers up that data for a next-generation weather industry. Read More

From the Tea Party to Progressives, Outside Groups Look Online to Train New Candidates

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 20 2012

Pedro Lopez, 19, is running for an Arizona school board. Photo: Pedro for Cartwright

As city and state legislatures become battlegrounds where the political right and left do combat over education reform, labor organizing and social issues, outside groups from both sides are looking online for recruits to fill their ranks of local elected officials.

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Things the DCCC Wants: "Targeting Interns"

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 15 2012

From a new job posting by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee comes the latest sign that data analysis is becoming a more and more basic skill with each passing day:

"The DCCC Targeting Team is seeking an intern to will assist with creating, revising, and implementing targeted voter contact plans. Duties will include data entry, data analysis, research, daily task tracking, using voter file data, and assisting with other projects."

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Did Newt Gingrich Lose Florida for Want of a Better API?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, February 2 2012

Slate's Sasha Issenberg has a great story outlining one narrative about Newt Gingrich's loss in Florida: He inspired a group of tech-savvy volunteers, but gave them no way to plug in to the campaign. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Targeted

The digital humanitarian response to the earthquake in Nepal; the NYPD monitors children as young as age ten on social media; how Wikileaks crossed the line between transparency and an invasion of privacy by posting the Sony Pictures emails; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Overreaching

Why the FCC balked at the Comcast-TimeWarner deal; Sheryl Sandberg wants Hillary Clinton to lean into the White House; the UK's Democracy Club brings a lot more information to election season; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Ownership

"Tell us more about your bog"; the shrinking role of public participation on campaign websites; "Aaron's Law" has been reintroduced in Congress; is the Comcast-TimeWarner merger on its last legs?; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Bush League

Presidential candidates hiding behind Super PACs; what this means for American democracy; demos at the White House; a demand for Facebook to be more open about news in the newsfeed; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Glass Half Full

A new Pew study on open government data in the US; the FOIA exemption ruffling transparency advocates' feathers; social media bot farms; and much, much more. GO

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