Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Tom Slee and the Omidyar Network: Six Degrees of Skepticism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Is the Omidyar Network the new Standard Oil?

Tom Slee has penned a tough critique of the Omidyar Network's philanthropy, titled "Six Degrees of Omidyar," arguing that its venture capital investments "time and time again" have damaged "commons-based sharing" projects, pointing to investees like microfinance fund Unitus, Global Giving, CouchSurfing, Code for America and Change.org. As with all of Slee's writing, the piece is worth reading. But I think he's painting with far too broad a brush and has cherry-picked his evidence. Read More

[Op-Ed] The Future of Open Government in New York City

BY Noel Hidalgo | Friday, September 13 2013

NYC's old voting machines look a lot like this one at the Smithsonian

In this guest op-ed, Noel Hidalgo, the program manager for Code for America in NYC and co-founder of BetaNYC, looks back over the city's mixed record of open government initiatives, and asks whether recent progress will be continued by the new crop of candidates emerging from this past week's primary votes.

Read More

WeGov

Nigeria Gets Its First Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

Since 2010, Edo State in Nigeria has set a day aside dedicated to technology and the state. The 2013 Edo State TechDay kicked off today, September 12, with the theme “Fostering Governance with Technology.” At the event (which has grown into a two day affair) Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole revealed Nigeria's first Open Data Portal.

Read More

WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

WeGov

Young Sudanese, 'Hungry' for Change, Take Up Crisis Mapping and Blogging

BY Amanda Sperber | Thursday, August 29 2013

Screenshot of the Facebook page for civil society initiative, Nafeer (Nafeer/Facebook)

You can’t use a credit card anywhere in Sudan, but that national hindrance doesn’t really compare to the situation in Darfur, the extreme poverty and the repressive authoritarian government headed by International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir. Despite or perhaps because of this, Sudan is seeing a small, but strong and steady growth of activism and mobilization through tech. Read More

WeGov

The Open Data Tool That's Getting Thousands All Over Africa to the Polls

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 28 2013

Screenshot of GoToVote! ZW

A “get out the vote” initiative that began in Kenya is spreading across Africa to countries like Ghana, South Africa and now Zimbabwe. On July 31, Zimbabwe's election day, thousands of voters knew where to go because of a simple online tool called GoToVote! ZW. It saved those citizens the usual hassle of searching for their polling station.

Read More

WeGov

How Governments Should Release Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 20 2013

When releasing data, governments should know that format matters almost as much as content. If it is clean, well organized, complete and in a machine-readable format, even a nonprogrammer can make good use of it. A recent post from Craig Thomler, who blogs about eGovernment and Gov 2.0 in Australia, illustrates this point.

Read More

WeGov

The World Bank Finances App: Open Data Online and Off

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 14 2013

Greeting card courtesy of Sam Lee

The World Bank values transparency. They have an entire website dedicated to making their financial data open and available to the public. Stores of raw datasets for anyone to “slice and dice, visualize, and share with others.” The quantity of data can be overwhelming, however, so for the mobile app version of their open finances website, they pared the data down and focused on simple information and presentation.

Read More

WeGov

India Launches Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 13 2013

On Thursday August 8 the Indian government launched an open data portal with more than 3,500 data sets from 49 different government offices. The website, Data Portal India (data.gov.in), has been compared to similar websites launched by the US in 2009 and the UK in 2010. Read More

First POST: Commandeered

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersThe inside story of how Edward Snowden won Laura Poitras' trust; reconciling open data with the NSA scandal; the new Pew research on where people go to get their news; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

More