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First POST: Precognition

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 30 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: New revelations about the government's "black budget," new warnings about facial recognition technology; and some hints about 2016 and tech from the RNC's CTO and Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi. Read More

WeGov

Is Facebook's New Connectivity Platform a Product of Benevolence or Greed?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 22 2013

Facebook announced this week the launch of internet.org, an initiative to connect “the next five billion people,” according to a white paper by Mark Zuckerberg. In it he contends that connectivity is a human right, at least basic services like messaging, social networks, and search engines. Some are sure to be skeptical of Zuckerberg's benevolence, since he has already been accused of trying to take over the world wide web. Even more damning, the day following Facebook's announcement, a piece published in The Guardian suggested that Facebook's monopoly in Burma is hindering the progress of media.

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Cory Booker Routes Around Capitol Hill Veteran To Win The Tech Vote

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, August 9 2013

Cory Booker, pictured with Biz Stone and Randi Zuckerberg, 2009. Photo: loiclemeur/Flicker

Silicon Valley is placing its bets behind business-friendly Booker, and in the process is ignoring a stalwart champion of some of their interests on Capitol Hill Rush Holt. Read More

Film Review: Hoback's "Terms and Conditions May Apply" On the Cost of "Free" Online

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Filmmaker Cullen Hoback asks Mark Zuckerberg: ""Do you still think privacy is dead? What are your real thoughts on privacy?"

Cullen Hoback's important new film, "Terms and Conditions May Apply," takes the debate over online privacy from abstract and academic into something that is easier for people to relate to their daily experience. Read More

WeGov

Social Media Drives Youth Involvement in Cambodia's National Elections

BY Faine Greenwood | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Kem Sokha (left) and Sam Rainsy, leaders of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (credit: Faine Greenwood)

A new age in political involvement is evolving in Cambodia. Social media use, particularly Facebook and Youtube, has proven to be the driving force in both youth involvement in politics and rising awareness of the issues, as direct engagement allows citizens to circumvent censored state controlled media outlets. Read More

WeGov

Yemeni Activist Seeks Refuge in Canada After Announcing "I'm Queer" On His Blog

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Ala'a Jarban (screenshot from YouTube video)

Ala’a Jarban is a 23-year old activist who participated in the 2011 Yemen revolution and created a blog that allowed LGBT Yemenis to post anonymously about their experiences. While in Montreal for a conference on international human-rights training run by human-rights group Equitas, Jarban took to his blog and came out, declaring, “I’m Queer”. Read More

WeGov

The Deposing of the Egyptian President, as Seen on Social Media

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Anti-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo (flickr/Zeinab Mohamed)

One year after he became Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi has been booted from power. The army has placed the now-former president under house arrest. The ouster came following four days of mass demonstrations, with protestors shouting many of the same chants that were heard during the 18 days leading up to Mubarak's resignation in February 2011. Two days into the dmeonstrations, the army issued a 48-hour warning to the government: It was ordered to respond to popular concerns. Or else. Read More

WeGov

Facebook a Top News Source in the Middle East

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 28 2013

A report released earlier this month on media consumption in the Middle East revealed that Facebook is the most popular social media site and the third most popular news source in the region. Read More

Surveillance Scandal Casts a Shadow Over Data-Driven Dems at Netroots Nation

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, June 24 2013

Image: g4ll4is/Flickr

The subject of personal privacy in the digital age loomed large in the minds of many attendees of this year's Netroots Nation in San Jose as the national debate continued over the ethics of the Obama Administration's national security surveillance techniques. So perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that the political operatives who capitalized on the American electorate's personal data to achieve victory in 2012 felt a bit defensive last week as they celebrated their cutting-edge strategies to beat back state-level conservative initiatives, and to elect Democratic candidates. Read More

ShareProgress Debuts Social Sharing Optimization Tools

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, June 18 2013

ShareProgress offers campaigners tools to optimize their social sharing strategies

ShareProgress, a left-leaning tech startup in downtown San Francisco, launched its social sharing optimization platform Tuesday after several months of testing with the progressive advocacy group CREDO Action. Read More

News Briefs

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

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

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? GO

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