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Commentary: Micah Altman on How Participatory Technology Is Changing Redistricting

BY Micah Altman | Wednesday, February 8 2012

Illustration: Shutterstock

Micah Altman, a principal investigator at the Public Mapping Project, responds to Nick Judd's article about the project's efforts to increase participation in redistricting around the country: "It's a good article, even if its titular conclusion, that we'll have to wait another 10 years for any of this to matter, is wrong." Well, then! Read on for more. Read More

In Pursuit of a Tech Answer to Gerrymandering, Good-Government Groups Must Wait Another Ten Years

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 6 2012

This 1812 cartoon from the Boston Gazette is widely credited as the origin of the term "Gerrymander." Source: Wikimedia Commons

This year, advocates for more public inclusion in the redistricting process put an idea to the test: That open-source software and voter outreach efforts could make people more aware and more involved. The idea here was that new tools would make maps easier to draw and even easier to understand, creating, at worst, evidence that lawmakers involved in redistricting were not drawing the right maps, and, at best, alternatives. Read More

Citizen-Sourced Redistricting Efforts Are Reaching the Finish Line

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, September 8 2011

FixPhillyDistricts.com Philadelphia's City Council is expected to propose on Thursday a new set of political borders to last the city through the next ten years — and the results will be a barometer of success for ... Read More

Gathering Support to Fix Philly's Political Borders

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, August 9 2011

A citizen-led effort to take the reins in redrawing Philadelphia's political lines has already attracted a surprising amount of support, and one city official's promise to listen. In response to widespread pressure to ... Read More

Amid Protest Over Closed Philadelphia Redistricting Process, Tech Firm Decides to Start Its Own

BY Nick Judd | Friday, August 5 2011

FixPhillyDistricts.com A Philadelphia software company hopes to use technology to pry open a crack in the historically closed-door process of dividing up the city into City Council districts. Cities and states nationwide ... Read More

Alan Grayson Vows a Return

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, July 12 2011

Former Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who came to office in 2008 with the support of the online left and whose term was an experiment in the ability of the Internet to keep a candidate viable who does not quite toe the party ... Read More

Advocate to Lawmakers: Using the Internet, Making Better Maps, Is 'Kind Of What We're Paying You For'

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 23 2011

Bay County American Civil Liberties Union President Bill Pritchard, speaking at a redistricting hearing in Bay County, Fla., that had maps of the current districts but no proposed districts as they would be for the next ... Read More

Playing Citizen-Redistricter in the District

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, March 25 2011

The 2010 U.S. Census data that will power redistricting efforts across the U.S. dropped yesterday. It's cliched, but true, to say that we, normal folk, have more powerful tools to work with and interpret that data than ... Read More

Democrats Hiring for Redistricting Desk

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, March 16 2011

One area where political data chops developed over the last few years will likely be shortly be called into greater service: redistricting. The DNC's tech department is in the market for a data-savvy person for its ... Read More

Lines, Lines, Everywhere Lines

BY Nick Judd | Friday, February 4 2011

The U.S. Census Bureau is beginning to release local census data describing the people who live in each state of the union, which means that states across the country will set to work redrawing the lines that determine ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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