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First POST: Top-Down Movements

BY Nick Judd | Friday, February 22 2013

Behind closed doors, a solution on transparency

  • Obama sent a decisive message on his commitment to transparency, Politico reported today.

    Following outcry from the White House Correspondents Association about a lack of access to the president during his recent vacation, and after an extensive cri-de-coeur from Politico itself about President Barack Obama's low-touch media strategy, the president swiftly responded to his critics.

    He held a private meeting with reporters from major print and television outlets — off the record.

    The web publication's pouty kicker: "POLITICO was not invited to the meeting, though it has been invited to similar off-the-record meetings in the past."

  • The Project on Government Oversight comments, in a post on the administration's sluggish response to Freedom of Information Act requests:

    The federal government has a FOIA problem: there is far too much secrecy. Many agencies have failed to fulfill the Obama Administration’s mandate to adopt a “presumption of openness.” There has been no grand shift toward a culture of releasing information proactively—before a FOIA request is made. The system remains broken, and backlogs continue to grow.

"Leaning" on Sheryl Sandberg

  • The New York Times offers a critical look at Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's plan to create a "social movement" around women in the workplace:

    “I always thought I would run a social movement,” Ms. Sandberg, 43, said in an interview for “Makers,” a new documentary on feminist history.

    And yet no one knows whether women will show up for Ms. Sandberg’s revolution, a top-down affair propelled by a fortune worth hundreds of millions on paper, or whether the social media executive can form a women’s network of her own. Only a single test “Lean In Circle” exists. With less than three weeks until launch — which will include a spread in Time magazine and splashy events like a book party at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s home — organizers cannot say how many more groups may sprout up.

What's next for Obama's technology experts?

  • Startups, vacations, and, for some, more time in public service:

    With the campaign behind them, Obama for America Technology alumni are scattered across the country — some still in Chicago, some making a new start in a new city, others still taking time off for travel. In interviews, some of these coders, designers, and product managers said that the campaign was a political break in a career otherwise spent in the tech sector. Others told me their time working for Obama has convinced them to focus on civic life. All of them expressed a connection to their campaign colleagues and to OfA's test-everything, data-driven organizing ethos that, they say, is likely to inform everything they do next.

Around the web

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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