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Howard Rheingold on Congress, Digital Literacy, and Making Political Movements

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 24 2012

From Congress to the classroom, digital literacy is a key skill that's often sorely lacking, Howard Rheingold, author of the new book "Net Smart: How to Thrive Online," said on Thursday's Personal Democracy Plus call — but there are ways to change that.

Rheingold derided "the degree of technological ignorance" in government and in particular Congress. "It's worse than ignorance," he said. "It's know-nothingness ... it's so endemic." During the fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act, members of Congress could often be heard pleading their ignorance of the Internet and its inner workings even as debating legislation that some said would alter the structure of the global communications network.

The call, moderated by TechPresident editorial director Micah Sifry, was recorded and is available online here.

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PD+ This Thurs 1pm: Thriving Online With Howard Rheingold

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, May 22 2012

I'm really looking forward to talking with author Howard Rheingold this Thursday on the next PD+ teleconference. His new book, Net Smart, is a concise and thoughtful guide to understanding and making the most of the ... Read More

Split by SouthWest: My SXSW 2012 Diary

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 15 2012

danah boyd and Alex Howard at SXSW 2012 (Photo by Micah L. Sifry)

PDM editorial director Micah L. Sifry spent last Friday through Monday at South by SouthWest Interactive, attending panels, keynotes and hanging out. Here's his report: SXSW is still a place where sessions packed with thousands of attendees cheer for the iconoclasts and the game-changers. It is also much more of a business networking conference than an internet futurists' playpen. In short, it has a split personality. Read More

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

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