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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

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

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Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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