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In Armenia & Georgia, Data Sites Meant to Bring Transparency to Gov't Face Uphill Battles

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 7 2014

Young Georgians learn how to file a freedom of information request in the video below

The website OpenData.ge launched at the end of February as a place to store, organize and display freedom of information requests. It is a collaborative effort of four Georgian NGOs with assistance from the international NGO Huridocs, which works with organizations around the globe to harness the power of information to advance human rights. Georgia, however, has the advantage of relative government cooperation. In neighboring Armenia an organization of journalists launched PublicData.am with help from Huridocs in 2011 but have since struggled both against an unresponsive government and an indifferent media.

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WeGov

Digital Diplomacy: Russian and Ukrainian Cartographers Find Common Ground On OpenStreetMap

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 2 2014

Screenshot of the contentious bit of land as seen in OpenStreetMap 4/2/14

Russia “officially” annexed Crimea from Ukraine on March 21, but is Crimea really Russian now? That depends, in part, on whose map you look at. Crowdsourced sites, like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap, have struggled alongside geography establishments to come to a consensus, even if that consensus is, for now, to do nothing.

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WeGov

Crowdfunding the Ukrainian Army (Updated)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

The "hijacked" campaign to trick Russians into supporting the Ukrainian army

After Ukraine's Defense Ministry launched their “Support Ukrainian Army” campaign, more than $1 million has been donated, a large chunk of it (more than $200,000) from individuals giving small amounts by texting '565.'

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WeGov

PDF Poland-CEE 2014: Democracy is Weak but Technology Can Be A Trigger for Social Change

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Photo by Fundacja ePaństwo

In Eastern Europe, democracy is considered "young" but it is also weak, said several activists from the region during the Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE, held in Warsaw, from Mar. 13 to 14. Read More

Open Internet and Open Democracy at PDF Poland-CEE 2014

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, March 3 2014

PDF Poland-CEE will take place in Warsaw next March 13-14

From March 13 to 14, activists, public servants, technologists, political scientists and journalists will gather in Warsaw, Poland to discuss and exchange views on the future of Central and Eastern Europe at Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE. The two-day event will be hosted at the Copernicus Science Centre, an interactive science museum that is one of the most advanced and largest of its kind in Europe. The second edition of PDF Poland-CEE (see here for the program) will delve into the question of how civic participation will evolve in the region. A number of key players will discuss how NGOs, governments and citizens can collaborate through the use of technology and innovation. And after the recent uprisings in Ukraine, there is an even greater urgency in addressing these questions. Read More

WeGov

After "Recognizing" Kosovo, Facebook Denies Political Agency

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 26 2013

Until 2008 Kosovo didn't have its own flag. Now it also has Facebook status. (matt.lutton/flickr)

After Facebook finally listed Kosovo as its own country, rather than lumping it together with Serbia, from which it declared independence more than five years ago, the Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku, tweeted that Facebook “recognizes” Kosovo as a state, and tagged her comment #digitaldiplomacy. When Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reached out to Facebook for comment, however, the company was quick to distance itself from any political agency that it might be ascribed.

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WeGov

How the Tech-Savvy Estonian President Led His Country to the Cutting Edge of Internet Politics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 24 2013

On Monday, September 23, the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, gave the key note address at the United Nations panel discussion entitled “A Secure and Free Internet.” That day he was also hailed in a thorough profile on Buzzfeed as “The President of Twitter.”

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WeGov

Flooding in Macedonia Tests a Smartphone Early Warning App

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, July 26 2013

Flooding in Macedonia in 2006 (Flickr/Novica Nakov)

When the southeastern region Macedonia flooded in February after three days of heavy rain, locals could log into a smartphone application to get up to the minute disaster information. It was a not so dry run of a new app developed by students and professors at the University of Skopje's Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and backed with a US $10,000 grant from the UNDP Innovation Fund.

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WeGov

Social Media is Driving Massive Anti-Government Protests in Bulgaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 24 2013

June's peaceful protests in Bulgaria (Flickr/Bmw Spirit)

After 40 days of peaceful anti-corruption protests, violence erupted late Tuesday night outside the Bulgarian parliament after demonstrators built blockades and trapped more than 100 people inside the building. Riot police forced their way past the protesters and the blockade on Wednesday to free the politicians and journalists who had been trapped inside the parliament building for more than eight hours. Some Bulgarian journalists credit the Internet and social media for inspiring and spreading the #DANSwithme protests, as they are known on Twitter.

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WeGov

SMS and Facebook Alert System Reduces Pesticide Use By 30 Percent

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 17 2013

The worm of the coddling moth in an apple (Wikipedia)

Going pesticide-free just isn't an option for many farmers, but overuse is a major cause of pollution. In the Prespa Lake Basin, more than 2,000 species are threatened by the use of pesticides in adjacent towns like Resen, in southwestern Macedonia. Timing the application of pesticides is everything, but with no local media in Resen, it's hard to get the word out to nearby farmers. That's where an information system that uses SMS and Facebook to alert farmers to spray can make a difference.

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