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First POST: Yum, Cookies!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 11 2013

Now the NSA rides along with Google's special "cookie" to monitor users; Joe Biden to take questions by Skype today; the rightwing blogosphere is getting rolled up by Salem Communications; and much, much more. Read More

NYC Looks to Reinvent 311 for Mobile with New Challenge

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 26 2013

311 requests by district (nyc.gov)

New York City is partnering with Code for America and Stack Exchange to invite civic technologists and other hackers to "reinvent 311" with a focus on new and existing mobile tools. "From parking and recycling rules to birth certificates, all of 311's content is available through an API (application programming interface) - but it's not yet widely available in the mobile space," according to the page of the Reinvent 311: Mobile Content Challenge. Read More

WeGov

Dude, Where's My Cow? There May Be An App For That

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 18 2013

siwild/flickr

Sometimes the thieves come in large trucks armed with guns and take what they like in broad daylight. Sometimes they slink across the fields in the middle of the night for their plunder. But the results are the same: the loss of crops and in many cases, cows, that has cost farmers US$52 million a year in Jamaica alone. These thefts – known as praedial larceny – are endemic across the Caribbean region. Read More

Mobile Canvassing Startup Organizer Changes Leadership, Integrates With NationBuilder

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, October 3 2013

Organizer enables campaigners to 'cut turf' by precinct, and managers to track their progress

Organizer, the Democratically-oriented mobile political canvassing software startup, signaled a new strategic direction earlier this week when it casually unveiled the news that it has appointed new leadership in the form of Bay Area politico Chris Kelly, at the same time that it announced a closer integration with NationBuilder. Read More

WeGov

In Abu Dhabi, A Government-Led "Civic" App Is Surprisingly Popular

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

A simple, free smartphone application called CityGuard has given thousands of Abu Dhabi residents the opportunity to be more involved in maintaining their communities. The government-developed mobile application allows citizens to report civic issues with just a few swipes on their smartphones. According to FutureGov Asia, the crowdsourcing initiative is surprising popular and successful. The app is the “cornerstone” of the Abu Dhabi government's initiative to empower and engage citizens through technology.

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WeGov

Getting Social About Water To Save Lives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Every year more than 750,000 children under the age of five die after contracting diarrheal disease. Many of those deaths could be prevented if only the children had access to safe drinking water. A new smartphone app called mWater will try to tackle that problem through what they call social water monitoring. USAID thinks there's something to the idea: they just invested US$100,000 in their pilot project in Tanzania.

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WeGov

Why Did Mobile Money Flop In Nigeria?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Two years have passed since a mobile money service was deployed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and it still has yet to catch on with the masses. According to a recent poll by the Nigerian research company NOI, only 6 out of 10 Nigerians know about the service (59 percent), and of that number only 13 percent are using it.

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WeGov

One-Size-Fits-All Toolkit For Gathering Information In A Crisis

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 4 2013

The thing about crises is that they can take you by surprise. Although governments and humanitarian organizations do their best to prepare, it's nice to have something to fall back on in any situation, something like an emergency first aid kit for NGOs. The nonprofit media support organization Internews thought so too, which is why they partnered with Columbia University's Modi Research Group and Captricity to create the Humanitarian Data Toolkit.

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WeGov

Lebanese Army Tries to Stem Tide of Violence With New Smartphone App

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Fireworks or gunshots? Who knows--check Way to Safety (baron valium/Flickr)

Tech-savvy entrepreneurs in Lebanon are making the streets safer to walk by warning users of gunfights, roadblocks and other hazards. The smartphone app Ma2too3a takes crowdsourced information about protests, traffic and conflict and maps it. Another app analyzes sounds and can tell you if what you're hearing is gunfire or something less threatening, like fireworks. Taking their cues from the public demand for this kind of tool, the Lebanese army last week released their own security app called LAF Shield.

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WeGov

Mexican Villagers Best the Big, Bad Telecom By Building Their Own

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 30 2013

In a still from the Rhizomatica video below, villagers meet to discuss the community mobile phone service.

In a Mexican town so remote and so small that no major telecom company wants to provide cell phone coverage, the locals built their own tower and phone service provider. They're now paying 13 times less than someone on a basic plan in Mexico City, according to the AFP.

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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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