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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

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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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