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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

2006 story in the Toronto Star (Hossein Derakhshan)

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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WeGov

Analyzing Social Network Metadata to Uncover Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Screenshot of email metadata (MIT Immersion)

If you've entered your email into the MIT Media Lab Immersion platform, you might have some idea of the information that can be gleaned from metadata. The same is true of social networks like Twitter and Facebook. One researcher has found that analysis of social network metadata can reveal wide scale censorship with 85 percent accuracy, without needing to track sensitive keywords.

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WeGov

Building an Automatic "Lie Detector" for Twitter

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 20 2014

American inventor Leonarde Keeler testing his lie-detector (Wikipedia/public domain)

An international group of researchers led by the University of Sheffield is building a social media “lie detector” called Pheme, after the mythological rumormonger, that can determine in real time whether a information spread on social media is true or false.

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WeGov

Study Says Social Movements "Should Never Be Called a Twitter or Facebook Revolution"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 22 2013

A report on Digital Activism and Non-Violent Conflict was released this month by the Digital Activism Research Project. It found that the role of hacking and cybercrime in digital activism is grossly overstated by the media and that Facebook and Twitter are the leading platforms for activism on a global scale, but that other tools do well on a smaller, regional scale. The study found no causation or correlation between specific tools and positive outcomes.

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Personal Democracy Media Seeks Research Intern; Know Anyone?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 19 2013

We are looking for a super-sharp research assistant, interested in exploring questions of 21st century democracy, civic innovation, tech policy, political change, and organizational design. Read More

Rich Or Poor, You've Probably Friended Someone Recently

BY Nick Judd | Friday, August 26 2011

Half of all Americans and 65 percent of Internet users use social networks, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that also reveals use of the social tools crosses lines of race and ... Read More

A Full Third of American Adults Own Smartphones, Pew Study Finds

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 15 2011

Photo: Cheon Fong Liew / Flickr Here are three reasons why mobile phones could be a crucial battlefield for the 2012 election, courtesy of a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released this morning: ... Read More

The United States of Twitter, 2011

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 1 2011

New from Pew on the rate of Twitter adoption in the U.S.: 13% of online adults use the status update service Twitter, which represents a significant increase from the 8% of online adults who identified themselves as ... Read More

A Bucketful of Transparency Papers

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, May 18 2011

Just a heads up on a potentially valuable resource: Rutgers Newark's School of Public Affairs and Administration has posted a slew of academic research papers on transparency in conjunction with its 1st Global Conference ... Read More

New Paper: To What Do We Owe Judicial Ludditism?

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, April 19 2011

Evgeny Morozov points us to a juicy new Cornell Law School working paper that one looks forward to reading on why courts have lagged behind the public sector and other government branches in embracing technology: Judged ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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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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