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Why It's Worth Noticing the White House's Big, Wet Kiss With Drupal and GitHub

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, December 6 2012

Between pictures of the president using Twitter and Vice President Joe Biden at Costco, the White House blog recently featured a little note advocating the use of open source in government. It is interesting to see how Barack Obama uses social networks, and a post about Biden at Costco feels a little bit like the White House just scooped The Onion — a shirtless photo would have been too much to hope for, but the author may have been able to slip in at least one Pontiac reference. But the White House making a point of name-checking open-source software touchstones is also worthy of note. Read More

WeGov

Getting it Right: Gov.uk

BY David Eaves | Monday, October 22 2012

For possibly the first time in my life, I’m actually excited about a national government website. It would appear that in the United Kingdom, the designers, the developers and the content creators of a government have finally beaten the managers. And the result? Not only is it stunning, but it actually stands to be compared against the websites that citizens regularly use. Citizens will compare government websites not to one another but to sites like Google or Facebook, and Gov.uk easily stands up to that comparison. Read More

Tools You Use: Seamus Kraft on WordPress in Congress

BY Personal Democracy Plus | Monday, July 9 2012

The House Oversight Committee launched its new website on WordPress with this video.

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers, techPresident is asking some of the folks out there on the leading edge of digital politics and government to point out just one tool or service that has become a mainstay, a must-use or just incredibly helpful in their work. There's one rule: It can't be something the person has built or the person's company is selling. We're asking folks to pay some karma forward here and highlight an innovation coming from elsewhere that makes their work easier. Seamus Kraft is digital director for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In March, the Oversight Committee relaunched its website with the popular open-source content management system WordPress. 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

Government Website Watch: The SEC's Home Page Gets a Refresh

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 11 2012

The Securities and Exchange Commission redesigned its homepage earlier this week, but compared to the efforts of other federal agenices, the changes seem mostly cosmetic. The New York Times first noted the change earlier this week. In contrast to the old homepage, the new one has a front-page image slideshow, improved navigation through a drop-down menu, revised informational categories and larger graphic buttons. Read More

An Ode to New York State's Voting Information Mess

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, December 1 2011

Ari Spool at Impose explains, without quite meaning to, why things like TurboVote exist: Oh, you don't live in East Amherst, NY? Then maybe you don't even HAVE to vote this year! Just kidding. There are things for ... Read More

The Europe Roundup: Debating "Life Hacking" on EU Websites

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, November 22 2011

EU | Debating "Life Hacking" on EU Websites: Useful Tips and Comments Did you know that Google and other searches can make your life much easier when you're trying to find relevant information in the messy EU websites? ... Read More

New Mobile Site Shows Californians Where Not to Find the Fish

BY Nick Judd | Monday, October 3 2011

A new, location-aware mobile version of a page on the California Department of Fish and Game's website shows visitors which nearby coastal areas are protected by state law and thus off-limits for boating, fishing and the ... Read More

Project To Offer Free, Hosted Websites for Governments Launches This Week

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, July 28 2011

The government software firm Firmstep announced Tuesday that they've begun offering free hosted websites for city and state governments using an adaptation of the Drupal 7 content management system. If you work on web ... Read More

Healthcare.gov Design Lead Says Work Began With a Tweet

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, July 26 2011

Healthcare.gov Design Lead Ed Mullen shared a post on his blog last week about how he got involved with the project — and says it all started with a tweet. After starting to stew over the potential of health ... Read More

News Briefs

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Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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