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All over the world, groups and individuals are using technology in a variety of innovative ways to increase government transparency, fight corruption, open data, hack on civic problems, strengthen economic development, address environmental problems, improve public health and education, and advance the conditions of women and children.

Our name for this trend is "We-government" or "WeGov" for short. Unlike the older practice of e-government, where public agencies are in the driver's seat and use tech to tell citizens what officials want them to know, allow them to upload required information, and invite input but only on government's terms, WeGov is what happens when citizens and NGOs take fuller advantage of tech's affordances to create (and sometimes co-create, with government's involvement) new and better approaches to providing and using vital public information and services.

techPresident's WeGov vertical is where we cover the people, projects, trends and ideas that are shaping this emerging space with a mix of in-depth feature reporting, daily news digests, and the development of a growing archive of articles, modules and pointers to other valuable resources.

Starting in June 2013, a chunk of the coverage on WeGov is coming from a new partnership with the engine room aimed at expanding our ability to surface and connect emerging tactics and initiatives. The engine room is an organization that uses research and networks to close gaps between advocacy initiatives, technologies, strategies and resources. They match initiatives with specialized expertise to help them make the most out of new technologies. With their help, we will be adding a series of skill shares for practitioners, in-depth reports, columns, and live documentation of relevant events.

To read about WeGov articles that fall under specific categories of interest, click on the links below:

Subscribe to our WeGov mailing list. Current subscribers may need to update their preferences.





WeGov is written and edited by Rebecca Chao, Jessica McKenzie and Antonella Napolitano, in partnership with the engine room and with assistance from Micah L. Sifry. The WeGov advisory board includes Sunil Abraham, Dominic Campbell, Susan Crawford, Beth Noveck, Tiago Peixoto, and Jeffrey Warren.

Personal Democracy Media is thankful to the Omidyar Network and the United Nations Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

WeGov

Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, July 21 2014

"You are not invisible" - Tweeted by @Kanter57640, one of the Tweets2Rue members.

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. Read More

WeGov

For Syrian Refugees, the World Food Program Makes Food Aid Electronic

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, July 17 2014

Mohamad Atallah El-Mahmoud, who fled Syria with his family in 2012, sits with his youngest daughter in Lebanon. (Credit: WFP)

The United Nations World Food Program has rolled out an electronic food program for Syrian refugees, giving them control over what they eat and allowing them to inject that money back into their host country's economy. Read More

WeGov

[OKFest14] Liveblog

BY the engine room | Thursday, July 17 2014

Update July 17, 5PM CET

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How to teach open data

School of Data, Peer to Peer University and Open Tech School organized a world-cafe' style workshop to share their experiences in designing and conducting training processes, online and offline. The areas covered were:

  • How to organise tech and data workshops
  • Building effective curriculum and accreditation
  • Type of education activities: a blended offline, online
  • Designing passion driven communities
Read More

WeGov

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

Read More

WeGov

[OKFest 2014] Flash interviews

BY the engine room | Wednesday, July 16 2014

During OKFest, our reporters will ask Festival participants five questions about the state of the Open knowledge movement:

  • What’s the most interesting project you have seen at OKFest?
  • What should be open?
  • What should not be open?
  • In your opinion, what has opening knowledge accomplished?
  • What’s next for the open knowledge movement?

This post collects all the flash interviews: read on for insights into open knowledge from the deep end.

Read More

WeGov

[OKFest14] Introducing the engine room Liveblog for OKFest 2014

BY the engine room | Tuesday, July 15 2014

OKFest logo. Credit: Open Knowledge

OKFest 2014 will be the biggest Open Knowledge event yet. And with over a hundred sessions and 1000 participants, it promises to capture 360 view of the state of things in the open data movement. The engine room will be liveblogging the event, conducting flash interviews, surfing sessions for insights, and sitting down with a few open knowledge projects to learn more about the state of the art and evolution of the open data movement. We will be updating this space with pictures and other media, session aha’s, and trends we see throughout the event.

Read More

WeGov

Orkut and Why Facebook Beats Out Local Social Networks

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, July 10 2014

Orkut, Google’s social network platform once beloved in Brazil, will soon shutter with Facebook taking its place. Mark Zuckerberg's social network currently not only operates but also dominates in every time zone, making it at this point in time, an empire upon which the sun literally never sets. Read More

WeGov

#FlashHacks: Crowdscraping Corporate Data to Understand "The Man"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 8 2014

(Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

You probably work for “The Man.” If not you, then someone close to you does, and even if you have no friends or family, your government is almost certainly doing business with him. Wouldn't it be nice to know a bit more about the so-called “Man”? Thanks to the massive open data project OpenCorporates, you now can, and they are intensifying their data opening efforts with #FlashHacks, a crowdscraping campaign launched today. The campaign goal is to release 10 million data points on the companies you work for, work with, buy from, sell to, and deal with in tangible and intangible ways every day, and all in just 10 days.

Read More

WeGov

That's So Meta: To Test Digital Democracy, Crowdsourcing Comments on Digital Democracy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 7 2014

Balanced facts on sensitive subjects, but could a community like Wikipedia come to a consensus on fraught policy decisions?

For more than a month now, Wikimedia Meta-Wiki, the global Wikimedia community site, has hosted a little experiment in digital democracy. Carl Miller, co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think tank Demos-UK, and Wikimedia UK's Stevie Benton wanted to see whether the mechanisms that govern Wikipedia could be applied to political policy. The opportunity to do so arose when the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the Commission on Digital Democracy, an investigation into how digital technology can be used to improve democratic processes, and solicited comments from the public.

Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: The "Snooper's Charter"

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 7 2014

The UK wants to increase surveillance; Russia demands Google, Facebook and Twitter open local offices and hand over user data; Tunisians debate on social media whether to boycott the next election; and much more. Read More

WeGov

While Jihad Waged in Iraq and Syria, Counter Narratives Go Online

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Thursday, July 3 2014

This is an infographic of attack metrics released by ISIS showing their 7,681 car bombings, suicide attacks and other acts

In a move as swift as any blitzkrieg on the ground, al-Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took many by surprise this week by announcing the creation of a ‘Caliphate.’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader, was proclaimed ‘Ca-liph’ and leader ‘of jihadists everywhere’ while the group also announced that its name was to be changed to IS (Islamic State). Read More

WeGov

[Report] What Can Mobile Do For You? A Report on How to Use Mobile in Development

BY the engine room | Wednesday, July 2 2014

Stories, questions and answers from the engine room to help you navigate choices in platforms for mobile data collection, management and outreach. Read More

WeGov

Fixing Myanmar With a Social Network

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, July 1 2014

Before 2011, Myanmar was a technology desert. A basic SIM card was a black market item that could cost between US$50 to $300. Now as the country opens politically and as telecommunication companies and private businesses begin to invest in connectivity and infrastructure, Christoph Amthor hopes to leverage the country’s technological progress to connect the country’s civil society through a mobile and online platform. Read More

WeGov

Norway Ends Its Experiment With E-Voting

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, June 30 2014

It's not time for e-voting in Norway: the government recently decided to end the trials of the system that was used in elections held in 2011 and 2013, BBC reported on Friday. Read More

WeGov

Libya Uses World's First Mobile Voter Registration System for Parliament Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, June 25 2014

An advertisement for SMS voter registration in Tripoli. (Credit: Josh Levinger)

In just six months, a small staff of 20 people using open source tools, built a complex, first-of-its-kind mobile registration system in Libya, a transitioning country beset with violence. Today, Libyans will vote for a new parliament and 1.5 million citizens have registered. Since the fall of Libya's long-ruling dictator, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the violence and tribal clashes that plague the country have overshadowed the work of a new government straining to rebuild it through innovation and openness. Read More

WeGov

Burson-Marsteller Releases Annual Twiplomacy Study

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 25 2014

"What you tweet is what you get." Finnish PM @AlexStubb

The Spanish King's abdication, Narendra Modi's win, the loss of Malaysia airlines and an Olympic bet were just a few topics of the most popular tweets by world leaders this year. Each garnered more than 24,000 retweets, according to the 2014 Burson-Marsteller's Twiplomacy Study, which captures an annual snapshot of the power, influence and relationships of world leaders and diplomats on Twitter.

Read More

WeGov

Mexican Telecoms Law Delayed, For Now

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 24 2014

Photo: Stefan Schweihofer/Pixabay

A vote on Mexico's unpopular telecommunications legislation—which had been scheduled to coincide with the World Cup—has been put on ice until July, Libre Internet Para Todos (Free Internet for All) told Global Voices, although GV adds that the law still could be “fast tracked” through the process. In response to criticism and widespread protests in April, Mexico's governing party promised to make changes before passing the law. However, Access reports that any changes have been merely “cosmetic” and “almost all the threats to digital rights remain.”

Read More

WeGov

Amnesty International Releases Panic Button, An App For Human Rights Activists

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 23 2014

Panic Button (Wikipedia)

On June 23 Amnesty International released their secret alert system for activists, an Android app called Panic Button. Panic Button (Beta), which techPresident covered at an earlier stage last year, is now available for download in the Google Play Store.

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WeGov

The Simplest Step Ethiopians Can Take to Protect Themselves From Excessive Gov't Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 20 2014

The Ethiopian government has at their disposal a formidable collection of surveillance technologies, and can intrusively monitor writers and activists at home and abroad. In late April the government arrested six independent bloggers and a journalist. More than 50 days later they are still being held in custody, and yet no formal charges have been filed. In March Human Rights Watch published a lengthy and detailed report warning that surveillance in Ethiopia could get even worse if the government gains the human capacity necessary to fully leverage the available technologies.

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WeGov

Who's Behind Russia's "WikiLeaks"?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 19 2014

Screenshot of Shaltay Boltay's Twitter account

Representatives of a “mysterious Russian hacker collective” known as “Anonymous International” or “Shaltay Boltay” (Humpty-Dumpty) have denied being hackers. They have told the press that they do very little technical hacking. Mostly they leak things: government memos, email exchanges, and insider reports.

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