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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

The Trolls on Putin's Payroll

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 3 2014

Self-explanatory (Wikipedia)

“If it looks like Kremlin shit, smells like Kremlin shit, and tastes like Kremlin shit too — then it’s Kremlin shit,” says Moscow-based writer and columnist Leonid Bershidsky, about Internet trolls-for-hire who have been paid to post laudatory comments about Putin and Russia on English-language news articles. Buzzfeed's Max Seddon reports on the leaks that reveal Russia's offensive strategy to win friends and influence people abroad.

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Out-Innovated

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, June 2 2014

China goes all out to block Google; online outrage against violence against women in both China and India; Russia's newfound allergy to digital currency; is Africa out-innovating Silicon Valley?; and much more. Read More

WeGov

Face Off in Chile: Net Neutrality v. Human Right to Facebook & Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 2 2014

Photo: Wikipedia

Is Internet access a human right, as important as access to education, healthcare and housing? Mark Zuckerberg thinks so, and it inspired him to launch internet.org, an initiative to connect “the next five billion.” So does the United Nations, which declared Internet access a human right in 2011, one that should not be denied even in times of conflict as a means of quelling unrest. And yet the latest blow to cheap and easy access to the Internet (and by the Internet we mean Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia) comes not from an authoritarian state cracking down on an unruly population, but from a government playing by the rules of net neutrality.

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WeGov

Amidst "Apocalyptic" Floods, People of the Balkans Use Facebook for Relief and Rescue

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 30 2014

One of the many photos flagged as fake.

The floods that have ravaged the Balkans this month have been called “apocalyptic” and the resulting damage, officials say, is likely worse than the damage incurred during the three year conflict between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in the 1990s. At least 74 people died because of the flooding and nearly 900,000 were forced from their homes. The governments in Serbia and Bosnia, as well as foreign media, have been criticized for failing victims and the region as a whole. Meanwhile, social media, and Facebook in particular, has been heralded as a tool for “information-sharing, social activism, voluntary work, and even a watchdog mechanism.”

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WeGov

How Do They Do It? International Mentors Share Tactics at the engine room SkillShare

BY the engine room | Friday, May 30 2014

Photo CC BY 2.0 by C!…

Last week we held an online skillshare on how to successfully manage a mentorship process. The focus was on tactics and experiences supporting advocacy organizations who are exploring how to use technology and data in their work. We were lucky to have four experienced mentors, and the expertise and interest of K-Monitor who is in the process of setting up a mentorship program with 10 NGOs in Hungary.

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WeGov

Near 3-Year Mark, Open Government Partnership Success Still Unclear

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 29 2014

Hillary Clinton speaking at an OGP meeting in 2011 (Wikipedia)

In a blog post earlier this week, Martin Tisne called the progress made by the Open Government Partnership “one of the best returns on investments we've had.” Bold words from the man who helped found the Open Government Partnership in 2011, and who now works as the Director of Policy for the Omidyar Network's Government Transparency initiative, which committed US$1,480,000 to the initiative in 2012.

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WeGov

Thai Coup Selfies: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 28 2014

Screenshot of a Thai Coup Selfie

A selfie may not be worth a thousand words, but it seems as if they are doing more in Thailand than might be immediately apparent. Based in part on this CNN article, I wrote in a techPresident post last week that the selfies were evidence that Thais were “taking the news [of martial law] in stride.” It seems I did not give the selfies or indeed the selfie takers enough credit.

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WeGov

Understanding Evidence: How Tech Is Complicating Law for the Better

BY Tin Geber | Wednesday, May 28 2014

Eyes on Darfur is a project that uses technologies, like satellite, to document atrocities that can be used as legal evidence

Collecting and presenting evidence for legal processes is a highly complex matter, especially in cases of crimes against humanity. Advancements in technology are providing human rights advocates with unprecedented power to bring forth proof of wrongdoings. But is civil society — let alone loose networks of advocates — ready to embrace the new complexity? Are legal institutions able to process it? Is it only about evidence, or should technology play an even larger role?

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Masterclass

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, May 27 2014

Wikipedia and digital democracy; Pirate Party's dismal performance in the European parliamentary elections; a spate of censorship around the globe; and more. Read More

WeGov

For British UKIP, Twitter Mentions May Not Translate to Votes

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 23 2014

As techPresident reported yesterday, a Pew study of tweets around the European elections found that in all three languages studied, English, German and French, most of the discussion appeared to focus on the parties most ... Read More

WeGov

Even For Censorship Savvy China, ICTs Can Cut Through Corruption, Study Finds

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, May 23 2014

Just how much can China's Great Firewall take? (credit: 阮_先生/Weibo)

In a few years from now, or perhaps it has already happened, mention “human flesh search engine” to a Chinese netizen and they may get glossy-eyed with nostalgia -- the good old days when a digital probe into the life of a politician or wealthy businessman could potentially uncover a trail of corruption: illegally obtained houses, hidden wealth, shady transactions. Now that these searches have largely fallen out of use -- and one can safely assume, due to the intimidation and jailing of those who have spread online “rumors” -- is the fight against corruption lost? A new study conducted by two Taiwanese scholars concludes, perhaps not. Read More

WeGov

Trolling the Terrorists, One Official State Department Tweet at a Time

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 22 2014

Screenshot of the @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account

The State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was established in 2011 “to coordinate, orient and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism.” In practice, turns out that often means 'trolling terrorists on Twitter.' Although this has been going on for years (in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali), the practice recently drew increased publicity and scrutiny after the CSCC branched out into the English-language Internet late last year.

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WeGov

#EP2014 and #EU2014 Twitter Conversation Focuses on Parties over Personalities

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 22 2014

Live Election Weekend European Parliament Twitter Dashboard

A Twitter analysis of discussion around this weekend's European elections found that the two top candidates, Social-Democrat Martin Schulz and center-right Jean-Claude Juncker, were not provoking much passion in the ... Read More

WeGov

Top EU Candidates Express Support of European Data Privacy, Skepticism of U.S. Policies

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 22 2014

Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker listen to a question. (screenshot/ARD)

The two top candidates for the presidency of the European Commission both expressed strong support for European data privacy principles and skepticism of American government and corporate technology influence in a debate broadcast Tuesday evening on German public television ahead of the European elections that are underway from Thursday to Sunday. Read More

WeGov

How Much Influence Did Social Media Have On India's Election?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Selfie + inked finger = "Fingie" (credit: @SirPareshRawal/Twitter)

India's 2014 election is being called a #TwitterElection because it is the largest democratic election in the world to date and so much of it took place online. While there seems to be a number of correlations between the online activities and victories of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which swept up 427 seats in India's Lok Sabha or lower parliament, and of Narendra Modi, India's new prime minister, just how much of their success can be attributed to their social media savviness? Read More

WeGov

What Martial Law in Thailand Means For Freedom of Speech

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Some of the "cute soldiers" on Twitter (Screenshot)

Thailand's military chief declared martial law across the country at 3 a.m. Tuesday, just two weeks after the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from her post. Citizens seem to be taking the news in stride, taking pictures of and with the soldiers; there is even a Twitter hashtag that encourages people to post pictures of cute soldiers. However, soldiers have taken over TV and radio stations, and have asked social media sites for assistance censoring inflammatory posts.

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WeGov

Estonia's Online Voting System Is Not Secure, Researchers Say

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Personal computer used to build election client for distribution/Photo by Estoniaevoting.org (CC BY-SA 4.0)

“I gave my e-vote. This is not only convenient, but a vote of confidence to one of the best IT systems in the world, a vote of confidence to the Estonian State,” tweeted Toomas Hendrik Ilves , the president of ... Read More

WeGov

Facebook Rolls Out Voter Megaphone Internationally

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 21 2014

(Facebook)

Facebook is rolling out a revamped version of its "I'm a Voter" tool internationally after a successful test run in the recent Indian elections, beginning with the European Parliament elections that run from Thursday to ... Read More

WeGov

[Report] Measuring the Impact of Tech for Accountability Initiatives

BY the engine room | Tuesday, May 20 2014

Tech and for accountability initiatives tend to operate with very limited resources. Monitoring and evaluation doesn’t always get prioritized, and when it does, documentation presents additional costs and hurdles. It doesn’t help that there is no agreement on how to go about measuring the impact of technology (or the improvements in governance and accountability for that matter). In fact, we we didn’t find a single framework or methodology that could be used out-of-the-box for measuring the impact of technology and accountability programming. As a result, we produced a guide that will help tech for accountability initiatives to develop their own frameworks for monitoring and learning in real time. As far as we know, this is the first guide of its kind, that specifically targets small initiatives with limited resources, to help them develop tailored solutions and set their own agendas for measurement. Read More

WeGov

Spanish Politicians Call For More Censored Net After Political Assassination

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 19 2014

Isabel Carrasco did not die because of social media. The Spanish politician was murdered by a 55 year old woman who blamed Carrasco for her daughter's dismissal from the León provincial council in 2011, a snub that was dragged out for years in court over a payment dispute that was eventually decided in the council's favor just days before the murder took place. It is clearly a straightforward, if deranged and poorly planned, revenge killing. Why it has led Spanish politicians to call for the policing of social media is more of a mystery.

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