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First POST: Circumlocution and Circumvention

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 21 2014

Why everybody is talking about the NSA this morning; how Twitter and its users are responding to a crackdown in Turkey; how the Right is getting better at data-driven campaigns; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Intellectuals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 12 2013

Why you should get off Facebook; where the women tech intellectuals are at; the PCCC gets poked and prodded; NYC's police crime data policy gets stopped and frisked; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Politifact branching out with Punditfact; why you shouldn't "drunk dial" random Members of Congress; why "greasing" IT contracts led to the HealthCare.gov mess; and much, much more. Read More

De Blasio Discusses Airbnb, Occupy, Pope Francis & Pizza in Reddit AMA

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 8 2013

de Blasio/Twitter

In his first Reddit AMA, leading New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio responded to policy questions on Airbnb, the Occupy movement, the tech community and to personal questions about his religious views, favorite books and his son's famous hair. 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

Hurricane Sandy Moves Occupy Wall Street from Protest to People-Powered Relief

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 30 2012

Hurricane Sandy's winds toppled trees and caused widespread damage throughout New York. Photo: p_romano / Flickr

A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City. Using Recovers.org, a web-based platform for organizing disaster response, Occupy volunteers are processing incoming offers of help and requests for aid, said Justin Wedes, a longtime occupier who 350.org put me in touch with when I contacted them about this project. Read More

What Romney's New "No Cameras" Event Policy and Street Protests Have in Common

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 10 2012

Occupy protesters in Chicago in May, a photographer looking on. Photo: Vondereauvisuals

From political fundraisers in the mansions of the wealthy to street protests in lower Manhattan, people in power are pushing back against the spread of digital cameras.

You don't have to spend long on YouTube or Instagram to see that every day, people ratify a social contract that extends the right to record off the streets and into any large gathering. But this makes trouble in politics, and so the campaigns are asking their high-dollar donors to agree to different terms. The same friction between authorities used to having exclusive control of the official record and citizens with a right to document what really happens is taking place in the streets of New York and elsewhere, in confrontations between citizens and police.

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How Free Software Activists are Hacking Occupy's Source Code

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 17 2012

Can the tools used to organize a protest change protest culture? Photo: PaulSteinJC / Flickr

During big event days, like the protests that were to come on Monday, Occupy Wall Street's techies turn out just like other occupiers. On other days, though, they turn their attention away from individual events and work on their own cause: technology tools for Occupy, built in a way that fits with Occupy's principles. They've been doing this since shortly after the occupation began one year ago Monday. And they've had a busy year. Read More

WeGov

Can Tech-Savvy Activists Change Mexico's Presidential Elections?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 28 2012

Student-led protests in Mexico organized around the #yosoy132 hashtag. Photo: MaloMalverde

Are Sunday's presidential elections a fulcrum for the scales of power in Mexico? Is it fair to say Internet-powered student protesters are on one side of that balance beam? And if so, which way is it swinging? I asked Diego Beas, a columnist for Reforma and a keen observer of technology's role in politics throughout the Americas, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Both have been following Mexico's presidential elections closely, and both have the tech background necessary to understand and explain the role of networked politics in this election, but the two have very different perspectives on whether the student protesters are getting anywhere. Click through for a video of our conversation. Read More

The Great Voter Tune-Out of 2012

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 21 2012

Youth voter turnout, 2012 vs 2008 primaries (courtesy Jason Rzepka)

Micah Sifry writes: It's the "'meh'-ing" of the president, says Roger Simon. "The 2012 campaign is the smallest ever," says another headline in Politico. All over the political landscape, signs abound of a dismal political season.

Now the Pew Research Center For the People & The Press is out with a meaty new survey that confirms that voter engagement with the 2012 election is down compared to the campaign of 2008. Last time around, at this point in the race, 63% of registered voters polled said they were "more interested" in the election than previously; that's now dropped to just 48% saying they're more interested than four years ago. That is, one is six registered voters have tuned DOWN their interest in the presidential battle compared to four years ago. Read More

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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

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

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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