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Why Crowdfunding Won't Change China Anytime Soon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 8 2014

Promotional image for My 17 Gay Friends, a short film crowdfunded in China

Three years after the launch of China's first crowdfunding website in July 2011, the idea is “gradually catching on,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in January. The World Bank estimates the market potential in China by 2025 to be US$46 - $50 billion dollars. Modern China scholar Julian Gewirtz argues in a Tea Leaf Nation post that the crowdfunding trend might even usher in political change in China. However, as crowdfunding is subject to the same constraints as other forms of online media, that is an extremely optimistic assertion.

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Five Crowdfunded Internet Privacy, Security and Circumvention Tools

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 9 2014

This is the moment for crowdfunding Internet privacy, security, and circumvention tools. Here are five, two of which are new, active campaigns.

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First POST: The Clash

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 30 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: As Congress goes over the cliff, is it time for a clean slate?; Is the NSA mapping your social network?; a new sharing company built that connects cooks to hungry city dwellers is taking off in Athens; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Drip, Drip

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA releases new documents showing it violates its own privacy rules on a daily basis; cryptoparties are springing up again in Germany; gun control supporters are recalled in Colorado; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Zombies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA thinks of smartphone users as "zombies" and Steve Jobs as "big brother"; TechCrunch Disrupt gets another self-inflicted black eye; NYC voters are sharing "selfies" of themselves voting; and much, much more. Read More

In Philadelphia, an Experiment in Funding Civic Projects

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, September 13 2012

Photo Illustration: Citizinvestor

Sadly, money does not grow on trees. But a new Kickstarter-style platform's first project is based on the idea that maybe the reverse can be true.

Citizinvestor, a platform to crowdfund civic projects, officially launched Wednesday in Philadelphia with its first project: TreePhilly, a campaign led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with Wells Fargo and Fairmount Park Conservancy, to plant trees throughout the city. The project partners are asking the good people of Philadelphia to put up $12,875 towards the idea in the next 59 days. So far 18 backers have given a total of $555.

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Three Kickstarter-Inspired, Civically Minded Crowdfunding Sites

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 31 2012

The idea of public-private partnerships to fund projects like parks or public transit has been on the upswing. In New York City, for example, non-profits work with the city to fund programming in three major parks, and a public-private partnership allowed the city to fund the construction of its now-famous High Line park on an old elevated rail spur. A team hoping to pitch the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority on turning an unused section of its underground subway network into another park raised initial funding on Kickstarter.

That last success, and others like it, have spurred several entrepreneurs to develop Kickstarter-like websites devoted specifically to funding civic projects. They're not the only ones looking online to renegotiate the relationship between cities and citizens — over the past year, a piece of software called ChangeByUs has evolved over time into a platform for cities to help introduce citizens to one another in the hopes that they'll organize around smaller-scale projects — but they're certainly among the most ambitious.

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How Kickstarter Crowdfunds Creative Projects

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, April 16 2012

The Occupied Wall Street Journal is one of the more political examples of a project that can get off the ground thanks to Kickstarter, but it's clear that this platform and others like it are becoming a more and more viable option for creative work that doesn't exactly belong in the mainstream. On a Personal Democracy Plus conference call with Micah Sifry, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler described what's new with his platform and how others can use it to raise money for their projects. A recording of the April 13 call is available here for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers. Read More

This Friday, 1pm: PD+ Call--How Kickstarter Makes Crowdfunding Easy

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 10 2012

I've given to projects listed on Kickstarter ten times, according to my giving profile on the site. And every time I do, I marvel at how it all just seems to work. The platform has clearly found a sweet spot for ... Read More

How a Kickstarter Proposal For an Underground Park Raised $100,000 In One Week

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 27 2012

An unused subterranean space under Delancey Street in New York might someday look like this rendering by RAAD Studio.

Two tech-savvy New Yorkers turned to Kickstarter to raise $100,000 in one week for a hi-tech plan to turn an unused trolley terminal in New York's Lower East Side into an underground park. The pair turned to Kickstarter to raise money for a mock-up installation that would help them refine the technology they'd need and to demonstrate how it would work. "What we found was, people really responded very quickly," co-founder Dan Barasch said. "Hitting that in a week is an accomplishment." 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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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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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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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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