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If American Politics Were a Team Sport, Would It Be Any Nicer?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, April 25 2012

In a country where someone is nearly as likely to play fantasy sports online as they are to follow the national elections, maybe one way to increase participation in elections is to bridge the two. At least, that's the idea that MTV, Politifact, the Center for Responsive Politics, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others are pursuing: A $250,000 Knight grant is the principal money behind a project, supposed to go into beta in July, that will turn the elections into a fantasy sports game. Users will arrange candidates into "teams," according to a press release, and individual candidates will be scored based on publicly available data about the truth or mendacity of their public statements (Politifact); their political disclosures (CRP); polling performance (RealClearPolitics); willingness to fill out a candidate questionnaire (Project Vote Smart); their political ads (Wesleyan Media Project); and Facebook and Twitter use. Players, MTV announces, will also rack up points for using Foursquare to check in to town-hall events or political debates. They can also get points by starting the voter registration process through Rock the Vote. Read More

The Game: How Campaigns' New Obsession With Social Media is Hurting America

BY Nick Judd | Monday, January 9 2012

The thing about attaching numbers to people's names is that it usually makes them want to make the number go up. Call it gamification if you want. The truth is that it's human nature, and as more people pay attention to social media, it is creating a sort of downward behavioral spiral. Candidates wanting more points on the social media scoreboard are urging supporters to tweet and post to Facebook on their behalf — spreading borderline spam on social networks and doing nothing to make the campaign season less of a horse race when that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Read More

New Obama for America Page is a Jungle Gym for Donation Data

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, October 20 2011

Source: Barackobama.com Obama for America has released a website for users to explore data about the campaign's donor base, in order to celebrate, per the campaign, their one-millionth donor. The application allows users ... Read More

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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