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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

"We're Not Like China!" Turkey Bleats, About Censorship Law That Makes Them More Like China

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 15 2014

Erdogan poster: "Istanbul is Ready, Target 2023" (Myrat)

The Turkish media outlet Hurriyet Daily News reported that a draft bill by the ruling party contains legislation expanding the government's right to surveil and restrict the Internet. If passed, the government could record and store Internet users' information (browser history, Internet searches, social network activity) for up to two years.

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WeGov

Need a Journalist? In Germany, There's an App for That

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Call a Journalist app (Cross & Lecker/Facebook)

Over the past weeks, the city of Hamburg in Germany was caught up in ongoing occasionally violent standoffs and demonstrations between left-wing protestors and the police over development plans in several poorer neighborhoods that have historically been centers for the city's counterculture, as the Atlantic Cities recently outlined. Read More

WeGov

In Sudan, Civil Society says It's Struggling to Work Around US Sanctions' Block on Tech

BY Amanda Sperber | Tuesday, January 14 2014

In Sudan, going online only yields a slew of inaccessible pages (credit: UNAMID Photo/flickr)

In Sudan, you cannot download an app via Google play, or update software. No transactions can take place over the Internet because you cannot use a credit card. You can't order a book, a computer or buy music. Transferring money to Sudan from the US is also close to impossible, including in times of crisis, like the massive flooding in August 2013, when some in the diaspora tried sending money to give family back home assistance. US sanctions have blocked a number of products in Sudan, including vital technology tools, and while they tried to ease web restrictions in 2010, it has not improved the situation in Sudan.

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WeGov

China's Official Press Agency Can't Win On Twitter Because Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Who doesn't want updates on Yutu's sleeping status?!

It's not terribly surprising that Xinhua News Agency, China's official mouthpiece/press agency, doesn't “get” Twitter. Since the platform is blocked in their country, Xinhua employees can't be expected to become Twitter pros overnight. But it's been almost a year now since @XHNews opened an account; 8,242 (and counting) tweets later and they still only have 23,325 followers.

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WeGov

Mainstream Media Coverage of Syrian War "Arguably Misleading"; Here's What They Did Wrong

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Today's edition of “don't believe everything you find on the Internet” comes from a new report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on social media and the Syrian Civil War, which the authors call “the most socially mediated civil conflict in history.” It is the third report in the USIP's “Blogs and Bullets” series.

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WeGov

#NotAMartyr Is #HereToStay

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 13 2014

Last week I wrote that the most powerful campaign online right now started with a selfie. The #NotAMartyr campaign took off on Twitter and Facebook after a political assassination in Lebanon killed six, including an innocent teenage kid. Lebanese citizens took to social media networks to express sadness and frustration with the current state of affairs in their country by writing messages and taking selfies. Yesterday, the people behind #NotAMartyr announced on Facebook that they will continue those conversations online and off.

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WeGov

Assault On Independent Media Site in Zambia Ends In Humiliation For Junior Minister

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 13 2014

After beginning a highly personal war on the independent, anonymous news site Zambian Watchdog, Zambia's Junior Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Miles Sampa suffered numerous blows to his image, and finally backed down from the assault, tail tucked firmly between his legs. It is a prominent victory for the feisty Watchdog, which has endured assaults from the Zambian authorities before.

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WeGov

The Buenos Aires Net Party: Weaving a Bridge Between the Click and the Vote

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, January 13 2014

The Net Party wants to change government from the inside out (credit: El Partido de La Red)

If you had strolled past the Legislature Palace of the City of Buenos Aires some time in October of last year, you might have seen a towering Trojan horse made of wooden slats taken in tow by a SUV and a group of activists from the nascent El Partido de La Red or Net Party. Rather than housing a lethal subset of the Grecian army, the statue carried ideas from the citizens of Buenos Aires on improving their city government. The Net Party is the city’s newest party and first dabble into direct democracy. Read More

WeGov

Defenders of YouTube in Pakistan Take On Brits Over Unlawful Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 9 2014

The human rights organization that challenged Pakistan's YouTube ban in court is taking on the British government over their surveillance program Tempora. On Thursday, Bytes for All (B4A) lodged a lawsuit with the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, alleging that the surveillance of communications violates the organization's rights under European law. The B4A suit builds on a previous one by UK-based Privacy International.

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WeGov

An Accidental Ally For the European Union: “Thank you, Mr. Snowden,” says European Commission VP Reding in Hangout Debate

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, January 9 2014

Screenshot of the hangout debate with European Commission VP Viviane Reding

The year 2013 was a "Year for the Citizens" in the European Union where the institution pledged itself to "encourage dialogue between all levels of government, civil society, and business." But in many countries citizens were more hostile than open to communicating with an institution often perceived as distant and intrusive. That's probably one of the reasons why the European Commission is launching a series of online initiatives to create a space for debate with the most important members of the European institutions. Last Tuesday, the Vice President of the European Commission Viviane Reding hosted an online debate on Google hangout, joined by five journalists and activists from all over Europe.

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WeGov

A Boost for Both Transparency and Taxes in Mexico?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, January 8 2014

There may be more pesos for the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga this year (Credit: Scott Robinson/flickr)

While the Mexican municipality of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga sits in the center of the country, its name translates as “Land in the Corner” in the Aztec language, Nahuatl. The title is perhaps more fitting now. Once one of the country’s most corrupt municipalities, it now occupies a special corner of Mexico as its least corrupt, jumping from a 34.2 in 2009 to a full score of 100 in 2013 as ranked by the transparency organization CIMTRA. Mayor Ismael del Toro and his predecessor Enrique Alfaro are in part responsible for pushing forward a number of innovative policies that include a four-year-old participatory budgeting project, which allow citizens to vote annually on how their taxes should be spent. Read More

WeGov

Why Did "I Paid A Bribe" Fail In China? It's More Complicated Than You Think

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 8 2014

Report corruption here. (Flickr/WatchSmart)

A paper by Yuen Yuen Ang, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, explains“Why 'I-Paid-A-Bribe' Worked in India but Failed in China.”

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WeGov

Chinese Communist Party Takes a Stab at Making Viral Online Videos

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, January 7 2014

A motorbike-riding clown is just one "Chinese dream" featured in the CCP's latest propaganda video (credit: screenshot)

It seems as if the Chinese Communist Party is looking for a little country rebranding for the new year and is taking a cue from the power of viral online videos. In its second installment – its first propaganda video achieved some moderate success – the CCP mysteriously published on new year's day a three-minute video on Youku, China’s version of Youtube. It contains no credits though some officials have publicly noted the video and a CCP logo complete with sickle and hammer appears in the right-hand corner of the screen. Read More

WeGov

In Brazil, Hacking From “Inside the Leviathan's Belly”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 7 2014

Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake (Wikipedia)

Last month Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, passed a resolution creating a Laboratória Ráquer—a space permanently designated for hackers—inside Congress. This is the first such hacker space in the world, according to Opening Parliament.

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WeGov

A “World First”: France's Data.Gouv.Fr Opens Platform To Citizen Submissions

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 7 2014

Data.Gouv.Fr is an open book, and you can help write it. (Flickr/muffin9101985)

The French task force for open government data, Etalab, launched the new open data platform in December, one that is open to submissions from anyone. This marks “a world first for a government open data portal,” write Rayna Stamboliyska and Pierre Chrzanowski, of Open Knowledge Foundation France.

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WeGov

The Singapore “Media Destruction Authority” Smothers Homegrown News Site

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 6 2014

kitchen closed

When techPresident covered Singapore's new media regulations last June, only 10 websites had been singled out by the Media Development Authority (MDA), all big corporate news sites. Fast forward six months to the death-by-paperwork demise of start up citizen news site Breakfast Network, which closed “company” doors on December 16. The MDA's effective smothering of the Breakfast Network team has led one blogger to suggest they change their name to the Media Destruction Authority.

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WeGov

Breathing New Life into Data with the "Scrapeathon"

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, January 6 2014

The logo for Data Publica's Scrapathon (credit: Data Publica)

At the heart of most civic-oriented hackathons, those short 24-hour or so gatherings to code and create innovative apps for public good, is data. But many hackathons suffer from a lack of quality data or knowledge on where to find it, a problem that Benjamin Gans says he and his team at a for-profit data crunching company, Data Publica, noticed after attending and hosting a number of their own hackathons. They have coined the term "scrapathon" or scrapeathon to describe the new data scraping events they have begun hosting to give data a new and more purposeful life. Read More

WeGov

Need to Tell Ma and Pa You've Been Arrested? In Egypt, There's An App For That

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 3 2014

When Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Ebd El Fattah was beaten and arrested in his own home at the end of November, his wife and fellow blogger Manal El Fattah were there to document and report the arrest on Twitter. But what of activists or journalists arrested alone, without friends or witnesses? They can now use the Android application Byt2ebed 3alia to alert family, friends and legal counsel that they are being arrested.

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WeGov

The Most Powerful Campaign Online Right Now Started With A Selfie

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 3 2014

On December 27, a car bomb exploded in downtown Beirut, killing six people, including the targeted Lebanese politician and former ambassador to the United States, Mohamad Chatah.

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WeGov

BYO Mesh Network: Commotion 1.0 Toolkit Released For New Year

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 2 2014

Commotion software is both smaller and so much bigger than a suitcase. (Flickr/Lasse Christensen)

Just before the new year, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute launched Commotion 1.0, a mesh networking toolkit more than 12 years in the making, also (and misleadingly) known as “Internet in a suitcase.” The toolkit makes it possible for communities to build their own mesh communication networks, which can be used as an Intranet or as a way of distributing access to the Internet without using traditional infrastructure.

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