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First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Greased

  • Politifact, home of the "Truth-o-Meter" and one of the US's main fact-checking sites, is soon launching a sister site called PunditFact, which will check claims made by pundits, columnists, bloggers and the hosts and guest of talk shows. Seed money came from Craig Newmark's craigconnects, and additional funding ($625,000) is coming over two years from the Ford Foundation and the Omidyar Network's Democracy Fund. IMHO, this couldn't be more needed.

  • Revolution Messaging, the mobile politicking shop that grew out of part of the 2008 Obama campaign's online team, just launched DrunkDialCongress.org, a site that helps you blow off some steam at a random Congress-critter, preferably after you've had a few. Type in your phone number and it will call you back while connecting you to Congressman Birdbrain.

  • Tom Lee, the director of Sunlight Labs (full disclosure, I am a senior advisor to the Sunlight Foundation), takes to TalkingPointsMemo Cafe to explain why drunk-dialing Congress is "socially destructive." He also is on GigaOm explaining "The crisis for government data in a 21st century shutdown." Did I mention that he also codes?

  • More on the Healthcare.gov mess: Clay Johnson blogs on his Department of Better Technology site that the main contract was "greased"--that is, the work to build the hub was added to an existing contract HHS had with CGI Federal, rather than put out to open public bid. And he points out, the regulations covering government website development, as promulgated by Congress, are hopelessly out-of-date (they still require sites to be Y2K compliant!) and inflexible.

  • Sousveillance Dept.: One of the motorcycle bikers arrested in the aftermath of the infamous assault on a SUV driver on NYC's West Side Highway was an off-duty undercover police officer. Turns out, as Gothamist reports, he was also engaged in months of undercover spying on the Occupy Wall Street movement, a fact verified by activists as they combed thru old photos and pooled their memories of "Albert," whose real name is Wojciech Braszczok. One Occupier remembers "Albert" coming to his birthday party till 4:30 am. " “It really creeps me out, to be honest with you,” he said. “I wish I knew more: What was he expecting to find out? I mean, going to protests or meetings, I guess there’s something to that. But why are you coming to my birthday party?"

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is leaving the Global Network Initiative (GNI), reports The Hill's Hillicon Valley. "Until serious reforms of the US surveillance programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make," EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien and Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian C. York told GNI. GNI was launched in 2008 with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and civil society organizations like EFF as equal partners, with a focus on developing broad policies to defend online freedom. It recently added Facebook, LinkedIn, Procera, Evoca, Websense and the PEN American Center as partners. EFF says it will continue to share information and work closely with GNI.

  • Irpileaks, the first Italian platform for anonymous leaking, is live, running on GlobalLeaks free-software. Would-be leakers are advised to also use Tor, the site notes. (IRPI is the Investigative Reporting Project Italy.)

  • A new round of "Aaron Swartz Hackathons" are being coordinated around the dates of November 8-10. Confirmed locations so far: Berlin, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

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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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