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Civic Tech and Engagement: With Waze, Who's in the Driver's Seat?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 21 2014

Screenshot of Waze.com's live map for Rio de Janeiro

Can you be a "connected citizen" if you don't know that you are connected to government? That's the question that's been on my mind since Waze, the crowdsourced traffic data company recently acquired by Google, announced a major new partnership with ten local cities and governments around the world called "Connected Citizens." Under this program, Waze will be giving city, state and county authorities like the New York Police Department and Rio de Janiero's Operations Center real-time traffic incident data (aggregated and anonymized) and in turn getting timely and relevant data from the authorities about scheduled events (construction, marathons and the like) that can also cause traffic problems. Since the program's announcement, dozens more governments have been applying to join in. At first glance, this can only be seen as a net plus good where everyone wins. But upon further inspection, Waze's new "Connected Citizens" program can teach us a lot about the potential, and limits, of tech-empowered civic engagement when the users aren't really in the driver's seat (pun intended). Read More

First POST: Triple Play Special

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 14 2014

More on Comcast-TimeWarner; TED and TEDWomen's policy against bringing up abortion?!; and is social media making it harder for NGOs to get attention for their causes?; and much much more. Read More

Book Review: What Code for America Has, and Hasn't, Learned About Getting "Beyond Transparency"

BY Susannah Vila | Monday, November 18 2013

Code for America recently published a book of case studies written by members of its network. While it’s called Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation, its biggest value lies not in futurism but in the book's descriptions of the lessons learned by people working on open data releases in U.S. cities over the course of the past few years. Many of these examples could help local-level reformers now - both in the U.S. and overseas. And they also show that there's still a lot of hard work to be done moving from making civic data accessible to users, to actually getting people to use it. Read More

First POST: Hearing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 27 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What Dianne Feinstein doesn't understand about metadata and surveillance; ActBlue's new one-click fundraising tool; Josh Marshall's college days with Ted Cruz; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Step Right Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 18 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: A first look at AskThem, a new portal for citizen questions of public officials and figures; an embarrassing data dump for the Indiana GOP; the NSA's spying empire in one handy map; and much, much more. Read More

Internet Privacy: Are Lawmakers Thinking About It All Wrong?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, September 4 2013

How do we get back to the world where nobody knows if you're a dog? Photo: Flickr/Jesse757

Is it time to move past "Do Not Track" as the solution to pervasive online invasions of privacy? Sarah Lai Stirland takes a walk along the digital frontier where privacy activists and data entrepreneurs are diligently carving out some radical new approaches to the problem. Read More

An Effort to Bring Open Source to Government Faces a Major Change

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 13 2012

One of a very few large-scale experiments in how to apply open-source technology into government will largely be put on hold. Read More

Civic Commons Marketplace, a Resource for Open Source In Government, Enters Closed Beta

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, December 13 2011

Civic Commons has launched a closed beta of Marketplace, an application that aims to be a resource for people in the open-source civic technology community. First unveiled at Code for America's year-end summit, the marketplace is supposed to be a clearinghouse for information about open-source applications and the organizations that make them. Read More

Civic Commons Gets Funding, Andrew McLaughlin

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 1 2011

Andrew McLaughlin, Civic Commons' new executive director, in 2008. Photo: Joi Ito/Flickr The fledgling open-source-for-governments project Civic Commons will launch as a nonprofit with the help of a $250,000 grant from ... Read More

OpenPlans 'Graduates' its Open Government Group

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 3 2011

OpenPlans, one of the most prolific foundries of new technology for government, announced yesterday that it would roll its open government efforts into another project it has been helping to develop. OpenPlans' open ... Read More