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First POST: Sabotage

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 8 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The latest explanations for HealthCare.gov's troubled start; why journalists need to reverse engineer algorithms; how fact-checking sites may be improving the behavior of politicians; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Reverberations

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 7 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA vs the Tor Project; was Healthcare.gov just overwhelmed by unexpected demand; China's "maker" movement; the Supreme Court still "doesn't get" email; and much, much more. Read More

Government Shutdown Sets Off Data and API Scramble

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 3 2013

Among the many casualties of the government shutdown are the websites and data sources that researchers, civic hackers and others use on a regular basis for a variety of online applications, visualization projects and studies. The disappearance of resources like data.gov and census.gov has forced those relying on the data to act quickly to find creative solutions or work together to gather backed-up information. Read More

First POST: Traffic

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 3 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Government shutdown of web services irking journalists; Grover Norquist is a Guy Fawkes fan; Lavabit's embattled owner explains why he shut his service down; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

7 Tactics for Your Civic App That You Can Learn From Twitter and Airbnb

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, October 2 2013

If you are looking to improve your civic app, don't be afraid to look at non-civic models like Twitter (petesimon/flickr)

It may sound obvious, but without users, it’s not possible for software to do much of anything - let alone facilitate social change. As we explored in our last post, a few organizations and individuals have started hosting ongoing conversations among technologists and people who can use data and applications to address civic issues. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Engaging the right people at the right time requires a variety of different tactics. Many of these tactics can be borrowed from user acquisition teams at non-civic applications like Yelp, Airbnb, or Dropbox. Read More

WeGov

Has technology changed politics? One British MP says, not so much.

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, September 30 2013

Nadhim Zahawi (center) sans musical tie (Policy Exchange/flickr)

Nadhim Zahawi is no stranger to the power of the Internet. He is better known as the British MP who set off his musical tie while speaking in parliament, a moment captured on video, which received 500,000 hits. He is also the founder of YouGov, a company that conducts polls via the Internet that performed fairly well. In a talk he gave on Sept. 25th (see the full transcript here) at the British think tank, Centre for Policy Studies, Zahawi argued that while Internet technology hasn’t changed the substance of politics, it has changed the shape of it. While he spoke specifically about British politics, the points he makes is applicable to most Western governments struggling with how to engage an evermore wary public. Read More

New York City's Latest Open Data Release

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 23 2013

NYC Open Data visualization by Chris Whong.

Property record, building permit and building footprint data for New York City are now publicly accessible to developers and the wider public as part of New York City's efforts to implement the 2012 Open Data law, ... Read More

First POST: Smorgasbord

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 23 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: New details on how the NSA's public review panel is being managed by the people its supposed to oversee; Ecuador wants to reimagine itself as a peer-to-peer network; Kate Losse accuses Dave Eggers of appropriating her Facebook memoir; a nifty new Twitter search tool from the Knight Lab at Northwestern; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

World Bank Announces Million Dollar Open Data Initiative

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, September 20 2013

Open data gets a boost (redagainPatti/Flickr)

The use of open data for development just got a massive leg up this week, when the World Bank announced a three year open data initiative at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva. The Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation join the World Bank as partners in the initiative, which has a $1.25 million dollar budget for the first year.

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WeGov

New Zealand - The World's Laboratory for Progressive Digital Legislation

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, September 18 2013

The wanted Mr. Kim Dotcom (mikesolita/flickr)

One nice advantage of having a large world with lots of diverse states is the range of experiments it offers us. Countries (or regions within them) can try out ideas, and if they work, others can copy them! For example, in the world of drug policy, Portugal effectively decriminalized virtually all drugs. The result has been dramatic. And much of it positive. I wonder if we might see a similar experience in New Zealand ten years from now about technology policy. At a glance, New Zealand would probably be the place I'd send a public servant or politician wanting to know more about how to do technology policy right. So why is that? Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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