Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Sympathy for the Developer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Is the lack of hierarchy, or "holocracy," what ails Silicon Valley?; WhatsApp promises to protect user privacy; MySociety gets to tell Parliament exactly what to do; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Welcome to the NBA

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, January 16 2014

Reading the tea-leaves before President Obama's NSA reform speech Friday; Fred Wilson explains why the end of net neutrality spells bad news for tech start-ups; SayIt, a new tool for annotating public transcripts, launches; and much, much more. Read More

Tom Slee and the Omidyar Network: Six Degrees of Skepticism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Is the Omidyar Network the new Standard Oil?

Tom Slee has penned a tough critique of the Omidyar Network's philanthropy, titled "Six Degrees of Omidyar," arguing that its venture capital investments "time and time again" have damaged "commons-based sharing" projects, pointing to investees like microfinance fund Unitus, Global Giving, CouchSurfing, Code for America and Change.org. As with all of Slee's writing, the piece is worth reading. But I think he's painting with far too broad a brush and has cherry-picked his evidence. Read More

First POST: Connections

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 12 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The connection between Edward Snowden and Jeff Bezos; how Moore's Law is destroying privacy; responses to Obama's Friday press conference; Twitter's new #PAC; and much, much more. Read More

With Sunlight and MySociety Grants, Google.org Signals Interest in Civic Technology

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Google.org announced today that it would be providing $3.7 million in funding to the Sunlight Foundation* and mySociety for their work on technological solutions for civic innovation. Read More

WeGov

Succeeding Means Letting Go: A Response to David Eaves

BY Tom Steinberg | Thursday, July 26 2012

Responding to David Eaves, mySociety Director Tom Steinberg pulls the lid off of a project in the works: a new open-source component for civic hackers, built by Chile's Ciudadano Inteligente, that will fit into mySociety's new Components framework. "It's because we believe," Steinberg writes, "that the only way that the Components can really thrive beyond our organizations is if they are truly interoperable over the web, truly owned by different people, and if they can handle massively varying political and cultural contexts. It is our goal that in the future any of the Components being used to underpin a website or app can be out and replaced by a clone that speaks the same API, but which may be built by a different group, in a different language. Interoperability and flexibility are everything." Read More

WeGov

Is Civic Hacking Becoming 'Our Pieces, Loosely Joined?'

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, July 25 2012

David Eaves writes: "So far, it appears that the spirit of re-use among the big players, like MySociety and the Sunlight Foundation*, only goes so deep. Indeed often it seems they are limited to believing others should re-use their code. There are few examples where the bigger players dedicate resources to support other people's components. Again, it is fine if this is all about creating competing platforms and competing to get players in smaller jurisdictions who cannot finance creating whole websites on their own to adopt it. But if this is about reducing duplication then I'll expect to see some of the big players throw resources behind components they see built elsewhere. So far it isn't clear to me that we are truly moving to a world of 'small pieces loosely joined' instead of a world of 'our pieces, loosely joined.'" Read More

British Civic Hacking Group MySociety Gets $2.9 Million Grant

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, June 27 2012

The Omidyar Network* announced today that it is giving a grant of $2.9 million to mySociety, according to a blog post by Tom Steinberg, the founder and director of mySociety. The grant is tied to mySociety's goal of internationalizing its existing British websites, to help others around the world build sites and applications promoting transparency and accountability, growing a commercial team to help cover the project's as-yet-unfinanced costs, and to grow the impact of the organization's UK sites. Read More

UK's MySociety Releases How-To Guides, Source Code for Open Government Activists

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 26 2012

MySociety.org, the group behind several civic and democratic websites in the United Kingdom, this year is stepping up its effort to help people in other countries build websites based on its model with a project called DIY mySociety.

While in the past, the group has spread the word, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, through the CEE.mysociety.org project, and Tony Bowden, international agitator for mySociety, speaking at conferences and meetings, it is now aiming to reach a larger audience online by sharing the code of its sites, publishing how-to guides and engaging with the community through social networks and mailing lists. There are already projects based on mySociety's WhatDoTheyKnow model in Kosovo, Germany, Brazil and the European Union.

Read More

The Europe Roundup: A FixMyStreet Milestone for mySociety

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, January 30 2012

Photo: Todd Mecklem / Flickr

Another milestone for FixMyStreet, open data in Finland and privacy issues in Germany. And don't miss today's tweetchat with Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

More