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First POST: Jackpots

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 25 2013

How a blog post about being poor set off a cascade of solidarity; why Google's new Civic Information API is a big deal; the rise of the "protest selfie"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: #DearCongress

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 1 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Public protest at the government shutdown starts to surface via the #DearCongress hashtag; the health insurance exchanges launch; Occupy Wall Street launches a debit card; 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

WeGov

Gezi Park and The Turkey Uprising As You've Never Seen It Before

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 30 2013

Still from Taksim Commune

The film opens with the sound of explosive clapping, drumming and chanting. The first images are of destroyed streets, smoke blossoming from an improvised barricade and men standing defiantly on a pile of bricks. Then a shot of an injured man being carried by four others, all with their mouths and noses covered by scarves or masks. These are the opening scenes of Taksim Commune: Gezi Park and The Uprising In Turkey, a short documentary that captures not only the conflict that marred the protest, but the jubilation and energy that defined it first.

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Book Review: Our Computers, Ourselves--Living With Present Shock

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, June 21 2013

Douglas Rushkoff speaking at PDF 2013 (Photo by Esty Stein/Personal Democracy Media)

I read Douglas Rushkoff's new book Present Shock two months ago, and found myself underlining and taking notes on nearly every page. Somehow, he ties together dozens of seemingly disparate phenomena--the popularity of reality TV, the death of ideology, how news has been replaced by spectacle, our compulsion to constantly "check in" on our digital inputs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, even our culture's fascination with zombies and impending apocalypse--and finds the signal in all the noise. It's worth a listen. Here's my review. Read More

WeGov

Now On YouTube: Indigenous Groups Burst Into Brazil’s Congress to Protest Land Rights Bill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 2 2013

Screengrab from political journalist's video of protest on YouTube

After waiting an entire day for an audience with Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies to discuss a controversial bill, hundreds of aboriginal Brazilians bypassed security guards and burst into the session. The disruption was caught live on the Chamber of Deputies TV channel, and later posted on YouTube. A political journalist posted a second, shakier video that shows confusion and chaos during the protest.

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WeGov

Occupy Nigeria Documentary: Banned by Censors, Viral on YouTube

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 23 2013

Screengrab of the video Fuelling Poverty

A documentary about the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, which drove the cost of living up, the quality life down and kicked off the Occupy Nigeria protests, went viral after being banned by the Nigerian authorities. The film “Fuelling Poverty” premiered in December 2012 and the director Ishaya Bako then submitted it to Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors Board for approval. On April 8, the board responded by letter, banning the documentary and prohibiting Bako from distributing it independently. It now has almost 55,000 views on YouTube and on April 20, in spite of the ban, organizers of the African Movie Academy Awards voted it Best Documentary.

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WeGov

Can Social Software Change the World? Loomio Just Might

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 18 2013

The Loomio mascot

After nearly fifty years of development and roughly twenty years of mass adoption, the Internet hasn't created many truly useful tools for groups. We may live in the age of "ridiculously easy group formation," but if you've spent any time as part of a group, you know that all the most popular internet tools --email, list-servs, blogs, chats, and wikis --basically suck at group coordination. None of these tools are built to make it easy for large groups to make decisions together. But a new upstart from New Zealand called Loomio, born in the fertile ashes of the Occupy movement, may have cracked the code. Read More

After Obama 3.0, What Will 4.0 Look Like? TheAction.org Isn't Waiting for the Answer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 21 2012

What next for the millions of people, tens of thousands of volunteers and several thousand staff who came together to propel Barack Obama to re-election? Will there be a real "outside" Washington strategy to put pressure on recalcitrant Members of Congress? Will they use the massive lists and online presence that were built around the campaign? Organizers of TheAction.org say they aren't waiting for answers to these big questions, but they are mobilizing to tap Obama's post-election, online and off, to try to keep him from compromising on repealing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Read More

Rolling Jubilee, Occupy's Latest Web-Enabled Institutional Hack

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, November 15 2012

An offshoot of Occupy called Strike Debt is going to kick off a new initiative, called Rolling Jubilee, dedicated to raising money online and then spending it on troubled debt offered by its owners for pennies on the dollar — medical debt, to start. Where other purchasers of bad debt might hire a collection agency in an attempt to collect some or all of what's owed, Strike Debt will forgive the debt. To get things going, Rolling Jubilee will host a live-streamed fundraising event at the tony New York venue Le Poisson Rouge, featuring comedian Janeane Garofalo, Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead and others. Read More

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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