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MileMesh Looks to Make Hoboken a Beacon for U.S. Mesh Networks

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, December 11 2013

Hoboken, jewel of the Hudson. Credit: Flickr http://bit.ly/IFB50v

When Hurricane Sandy slammed the northeast in October of 2012, it was particularly unkind to the city of Hoboken, New Jersey. The storm knocked out power throughout most of the city for a week. Many of the town’s 50,000 residents crowded two blocks spared from the outage by a separate grid to juice up their phones and computers from power strips slung out of residents' front doors onto their stoops. Even after power returned, Internet and mobile service remained unreliable. Now a group of volunteers are trying to build out a mesh network that would be more resilient. “We’re not starting a company, we’re not starting a project,” says Anthony Townsend, who has experience providing public wifi hotspots through his work with NYCwireless, “we’re trying to start a movement.” Read More

NYC Unveils Sandy Funding Tracking Portal Amid Calls for Transparency

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, December 3 2013

New York City on Monday unveiled the first iteration of an online platform designed to track the city's dissemination of federal disaster recovery and resilience funds in connection with the aftermath from Superstorm Sandy. While advocates expressed concerns that not enough of the data was available in a disaggregated, accessible and downloadable format, city officials told techPresident they are working to make as much underlying data available as they could through New York City's Open Data portal. Read More

After Sandy, Are FEMA and the Red Cross Helpmates to Neighborhood Volunteers, Not Their Leaders?

BY Joe Maniscalco | Friday, November 16 2012

The Internet didn't create the outpouring of citizen-to-citizen care that has so often beaten traditional relief agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross to Hurricane Sandy-ravaged communities all over the tri-state area - but it certainly helped to channel it. The rise of grassroots organizing channeled through online resources in times of crisis has been so profound that FEMA and the Red Cross aren't even pretending they can do a better job than web-adept citizens groups like Occupy Sandy when it comes to immediately moving people or supplies - or even that they are supposed to. Read More

For Hurricane Sandy Relief, a Text-Messaging Solution

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, November 15 2012

In Hurricane Sandy's wake, many developers have come up with websites or applications created to help. But when volunteers are on the ground in hard-hit areas like the Rockaways section of New York City, they are often unable to access the Internet or use their mobile phones. A group of volunteers have responded to this challenge by developing Occupy SMS, a text-messaging tool for aid communication. Read More

Why Didn't Facebook Waive "Sponsored Post" Fees for Hurricane Sandy Relief?

BY Lea Zeltserman | Wednesday, November 7 2012

South Ferry subway station under water, the day after Hurricane Sandy (credit: MTAPhotos)
As the full scope of the disaster wrought by Hurricane Sandy sank in, volunteers in New York and New Jersey dropped everything to help the thousands evacuated from homes that were flooded, freezing and without electricity; many put out urgent calls for supplies and volunteers on Facebook, but their posts failed to reach a wide audience because the social media site did not suspend its fees for promoting posts — even as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal lowered their paywall in order to give people in the disaster-struck region access to information. Read More

Post-Sandy, Facebook, Change.org Show Rising Opposition to NYC Marathon This Sunday

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, November 2 2012

Has New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has steered his city in all kinds of admirable ways since Hurricane Sandy first appeared on the horizon a week ago, seriously misread the mood of his fellow Gothamites with his decision to let the annual New York City Marathon proceed as scheduled this Sunday? The race, which draws between 40,000 and 60,000 runners each year, is the largest in the world--and judging from some fast-moving page on Change.org and Facebook, many people are wondering if the usually uplifting event may put too heavy a burden on already strained and breaking city services. Read More

After #Sandy, WNYC Radio Shows How Pro-Am Crowdsourcing Can Fill In the Picture

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, November 1 2012

With millions of residents of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state area without power since Superstorm Sandy swept through the region Monday, a complete picture of the devastation and loss remains out of reach. But radio, especially the two-way, interactive, crowd-sourced journalism practiced by WNYC's Brian Lehrer, is helping filling in the gaps. Read More

Mapping New Yorkers' Reports of Hurricane Sandy Damage

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 31 2012

The city releases data on 311 calls on its open data portal every afternoon between 2 and 3 p.m. This afternoon, that data release included calls placed Monday and early Tuesday as Hurricane Sandy whipped up floodwaters, shut off power and blew over trees throughout the city. The data paint a sobering picture of the damage. Arranged by complaint type, New Yorkers as of early Tuesday had placed 5,102 reports of damaged trees, warned of malfunctioning traffic signals 1,074 times, notified the city in 642 instances of an overflowing or otherwise broken sewer drain, and complained of broken street lights 325 times. That's just the bulk of 8,564 reports placed between Sunday and Tuesday for which data is available. It's likely that later data releases will raise that number even higher. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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