You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

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

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

WeGov

Singapore Outlines Plans to Become First "Smart Nation"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Marina Bay, Singapore (Wikipedia)

Forget smart cities; Singapore has announced detailed plans on how they will become the world's first “smart nation.” The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) revealed their scheme at the CommunicAsia trade show yesterday by having a remote controlled quadcopter deliver a computer to an IDA representative onstage.

Read More

WeGov

An Ushahidi-Powered Platform Shows "Free" Healthcare In India Comes With Hidden Costs

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Mother and child, India. (Thessaly La Force/Flickr)

Two and a half years after a pilot program called Mera Swasthya Meri Aawaz (My Health, My Voice) was launched to record and document the informal fees that plague India's “free” maternal health services in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of reports have been collected and mapped. The Indian human rights organization Sahayog, which helped launched the initiative, tells techPresident that around 40 public health facilities in two Uttar Pradesh districts have been connected to informal fees, a kind of low-level corruption.

Read More

WeGov

Nawaat Pushes Boundaries in Tunisia With New Whistleblowing Platform

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, June 18 2014

The activists that brought the world TuniLeaks and helped to topple a dictatorial regime has now built a whistleblowing site to push for greater transparency in Tunisia. Read More

WeGov

How ISIS Wins At Twitter

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 17 2014

The ISIS flag. (Wikipedia)

These days everyone, even (or especially) vicious terrorists groups, is all about social media optimization.

Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: Decoy Data

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, June 16 2014

An app the emits false data; Burkina Faso, poor but data rich?; Social media bans in Iraq; and much much more Read More

WeGov

Clinton Discusses Balance of Privacy and Security, Snowden, in German TV Interview

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 16 2014

ZDF Screenshot

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized the importance of establishing a balance between curtailing some surveillance overreach and protecting international security in an interview with German television, while expressing wariness and skepticism about Edward Snowden's choices. Read More

WeGov

PDF France 2014: Is the Internet Inclusive Enough?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, June 16 2014

Who are the faces of the digital society today? Is the web really inclusive enough? The 2014 edition of PDF France focused on looking at interesting initiatives in France and abroad that are trying to empower those "excluded" from digital society. Read More

WeGov

Chinese Internet Giant to Fix Backlogged Hospital System

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 16 2014

The Internet giant Alibaba Group is angling to disrupt China's inefficient hospital system with an ambitious ten year plan to facilitate nearly every interaction between patient and hospital, from appointment booking to payment to medicine delivery.

Read More

WeGov

[Interview] MEP Marietje Schaake Says We Need Global Collaboration to Keep the Internet Open

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, June 13 2014

MEP Marietje Schaake at PDF14 (Photo: Esty Stein/Personal Democracy)

A video interview with MEP Schaake on the PDF conference, working with citizen empowerment and next steps for the European Parliament on digital rights. Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: "Come-ons"

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, June 11 2014

China's fake yoga brochures; Russia's digital rights record keeps getting worse; Europe hates Uber; and much much more. Read More

WeGov

In Nigeria, Holding Gov't Accountable On the Radio

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Like this, but government officials are the ones in the hot seat (Flickr/Jena Fuller)

In Nigeria, a reality radio program provides a forum for tackling issues of public or private impunity. Hosted by Ordinary Ahmed Isah, the Brekete Family Radio program has a listener base of an estimated 20 million people. Their motto is to be “the voice of the voiceless.” Writing on the Open Society Foundations blog (Brekete Family Radio is an Open Society partner), Udo Jude Ilo calls it the “last resort of the common man.”

Read More

WeGov

Ushahidi's CrisisNet Aims to Provide Usable Crisis Data "Within Seconds"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Screenshot: Ushahidi.com

Open source technology-maker Ushahidi only made their new crisis data tool public this week, but there are already several neat examples of potential uses, like this map of social media-reported violence in Syria and an analysis of the Twitter protests of the 2014 World Cup. Co-founder Chris Albon describes CrisisNet as a “crisis data firehose” that automates time consuming processes like cleaning and formatting data streams to make it easier and much faster for crisis responders to make use of crowdsourced information.

Read More

WeGov

92% of Pakistanis Encounter Online Hate Speech, Survey Finds

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 9 2014

Malala Yousafzai meets with President Obama (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

In 2012, just after then 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by masked Taliban gunmen, the Pakistani cyberspace was briefly united—as pro-women and pro-education—but not for long. Soon a counter-narrative emerged, depicting Yousafzai as a pawn of the United States, or even a willing operative, and obscured the facts of her attack. Even a journalist who claims to support Yousafzai's cause, the universal right to education, has dismissed her as a “good native” that the West is using to act out their “savior complex,” which one could argue illustrates the “warped mindset” that the pro-Taliban narrative has spread amongst Pakistanis, and the potential real-world effects of hate speech.

Read More

WeGov

When Your Government Trolls You: A #PDF14 Conversation on Memes and Movements

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, June 6 2014

The keyword "hairy bacon", derogatory term referred to Mao Zedong's corpse, proliferated in many forms on the Chinese Internet.

At Personal Democracy Forum, a session called “From memes to movements,” practitioners and researchers explored how the irreverent humor of memes is used by citizens that live in countries with limited opportunities of expressing themselves. Read More

WeGov

The Internet is Not a Horseless Carriage: Talking Tech, Activism & Capacity Building With Zeynep Tufekci

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 6 2014

Zeynep Tufekci speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2014 (photo: PDM)

Yesterday at Personal Democracy Forum, Zeynep Tufekci spoke in a session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword,” which covered the promise and potential of the Internet for both activists and regular citizens, and for authoritarian governments. Only Tufekci doesn't think that is the conversation we should be having—whether the Internet is good or bad, or better for citizens than government, or vice versa. When I asked whether she approaches a new social media movement with initial optimism or pessimism, she said neither.

Read More

WeGov

From Memes to Movements

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 5 2014

Tweets about the #PDF14 break-out sessions on using memes to launch and build movements Read More

WeGov

Hashtag Activism Has Profound Psychological Effects On Movement Creators & Participants

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 5 2014

Screenshot of a #NotYourTigerLily tweet

It has become quite trendy these days to downplay or mock hashtag activism, or what many dismiss as “slacktivism.” The takeaway from the Thursday morning session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword” at Personal Democracy Forum, however, was that even seemingly small actions play an important role in movement building, especially on the psychological level.

Read More

WeGov

Remembering to Forget: A Snapshot of Censorship in China on the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 4 2014

A quarter of a century has passed since the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, but the Chinese government is working as hard as ever to suppress memories and mentions of the event. This year: verbally blasting Google and other American technology companies through state media outlets, LinkedIn's capitulation to censorship demands, even outside mainland China, and more than 64 Tiananmen-related words blocked from online searches today, including the word “today.”

Read More