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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 Geopolitics of the Open Government Partnership in Action

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, November 21 2012

While in Burma, President Barack Obama welcomed the country into the Open Government Partnership — an example of the OGP as part of a global U.S. strategy to forge a set of alliances with key partners around the world. It may also advance transparency and anticorruption through collaboration and new technology — but there are other chess games in progress, too. Read More

WeGov

Mapping the Gaza-Israel War

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, November 20 2012

As the latest Middle East war rages on, informative interactive maps aggregate social media data from Gaza and Israel. Read More

WeGov

At the 2012 IGF in Baku, the Azeri Government's Disdain for Freedom Was on Full Display

BY Nighat Dad | Tuesday, November 20 2012

IGF session. (Credit: Internet Society/Flickr)

The 2012 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan — a country that makes all the Top 10 lists of human rights violators, Internet censors and political freedom repressers. At this year's conference, their disdain for freedom of expression was all too apparent. Read More

WeGov

How "We The People," the White House e-Petition Site, Could Help Form a More Perfect Union

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 20 2012

With nearly one million people signing petitions on the White House's "We the People" e-petition site calling for their state to secede from the Union, it's tempting to dismiss the platform as a lightning rod for the most disaffected Americans. But people petitioning the government could also be invited into a new kind of civic dialogue, one that might build on what "We the People" already promises: an official reply from the powers-that-be. Freed from the demands of another election and blessed with some of the smartest technologists in the country, the Obama Administration could use "We the People" to begin the work of constructing a real digital public square, not just another e-Potemkin village. Will they? Read More

WeGov

Egyptian Belly Dancer's Salacious Video Mocking Muslim Brotherhood Goes Viral

BY Mahmoud Salem | Monday, November 19 2012

Sama El Masry (publicity shot)

Last week Sama El Masry, a famous Egyptian belly dancer, uploaded a home-made video to YouTube; it shows her in a skin tight outfit, swinging her hips seductively to a song rife with anti-Muslim Brotherhood political innuendo. The sexy little number set the Egyptian social media and political worlds ablaze — but not only because it mocked the prudish Islamists with the double whammy of gyrating hips and lyrics that were a blatant political satire that pulled no punches. In a bizarre twist that could only happen in post-revolutionary Egypt, the dancer was also famous for claiming to be the ex-wife of a Salafi member of parliament. Read More

WeGov

Free Phone App Teaches Afghan Women to Read

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 15 2012

The Ministry of Education in Afghanistan is rolling out a free phone app that it hopes will raise the literacy level amongst women, reports Wired.co.uk. Currently, only 15 percent of Afghan women can read and write. Read More

WeGov

To App Contest or Not App Contest

BY David Eaves | Thursday, November 15 2012

Ever since the City of Washington DC did Apps for Democracy there have been a running series of skirmishes — that from time to time bubble up into a larger debate — about whether or not app contests, or even hackathons in general, are worthwhile endeavor. I've never been a huge fan of app competitions, but I do think there exist a set of specific conditions under which they can make sense. Ultimately, everything rests on your goal. What do you want to achieve? Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] How Obama’s Foreign Policy Can Be Savvier about Tech and Democratization

BY Phil Howard | Tuesday, November 13 2012

600,000 Georgians Rally for Democracy, Sept 2012 (Photo from http://www.democracyingeorgia.org)

In this op-ed, author Philip Howard looks at recent events in Georgia, Hungary, Myanmar and Venezuela, countries that are all in flux--some moving toward greater democracy, some less. He argues that "the transportable strategy for all four countries—countries that have actually become archetypes for how a country can open up or close down—involves encouraging open Internet access and competitive media environments. These countries are now ideal points of intervention, where a deliberate US response on information policy reform would not only solve problems in those countries. It would send the right signals to the strongmen in neighboring countries." Read More

WeGov

U.A.E. Passes New Law Prescribing Mandatory Jail Time for Online Dissidents

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, November 13 2012

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is cracking down on dissent with a new law that stipulates jail time for anyone who criticizes the government online, reports the Global Arab Network. Read More

WeGov

Montreal Hackathon Aims to Combat Government Corruption

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Monday, November 12 2012

Hackons la Corruption (credit: QuebecOuvert)

Canada's first anti-corruption hackathon was held this past weekend in Montreal, which has been rocked by nearly two years of corruption scandals involving construction kickbacks, organized crime and prominent politicians. Read More

WeGov

Armenia's Capital City Launches Interactive Municipal Website

BY Onnik Krikorian | Friday, November 9 2012

Screenshot from iYerevan.am

Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, just launched a website with interactive features that allow citizens to report issues online and communicate directly with the municipality. Funded by the UNDP, the site is meant to increase government transparency. But with Internet penetration relatively low in Armenia, is the project more hype than help? Read More

WeGov

European Officials at Internet Governance Forum in Baku Report their Laptops Hacked

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, November 9 2012

Azerbaijan's hosting of the 7th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has turned into something of a fiasco, with EU officials reporting their laptops hacked and an official from another European organization visiting during the forum for the purpose of lambasting the government for restricting freedom of speech and human rights. Read More

WeGov

EU Initiative Will Map Cyber Repression Around the World

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 8 2012

The EU is about to launch "a global monitoring system that will help chart digital repression by mapping the Internet’s "cyber geography" in near real time," reports Slate. Read More

WeGov

After a Shaky Start, Slovakia's Open Gov't Portal Succeeds With Help from Open Contracts

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 8 2012

Earlier this year the government of Slovakia launched a portal that was supposed to make all public contracts and invoices available online. But as Sunlight Foundation International Fellow Matej Kurian recounts, there were serious problems from the outset: The site "...was half-baked, missing full-text search, documents preview or space for comments. While the policy produced more data (“transparency,” if you will), it left accountability untouched." Read More

WeGov

Rethinking Government Services Online

BY David Eaves | Tuesday, November 6 2012

Governments have been talking about how they will deliver services online for over two decades. (Anyone up for some e-government?) The sad truth is, at the national level, few users of online government services believe governments have succeeded - most citizens' experience with government websites are marked with frustration, a sense of loathing, and pretty much the opposite of whatever we imagined e-government would be. But there are three reasons why I waded through not one, but three lengthy UK reports about its vision, and now believe that if you care about government services online or better still, advise a government, there are some things worth knowing about the UK's new Digital Government Strategy. Read More

WeGov

Ukrainians Document Election Irregularities on Social Media

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, November 5 2012

Social media played a prominent role in reporting results and irregularities in Ukraine's October 28 national elections, which were widely viewed as far from ideal in terms of a level playing field and transparency. Read More

WeGov

In Zambia, a Phone App Allows Citizens to Participate in Drafting Their Constitution

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, November 2 2012

Screenshot from phone app page.

Zambia is in the process of writing a constitution that will reflect the aspiration of the people. In order to make the process inclusive, the government has created a phone app that allows people to read the draft, sharing and commenting on pages. The Zambian draft constitution app is available free for download on Google Play — but not on iTunes, which shows the extent to which low-cost Androids are kicking dust in the face of the prohibitively priced iPhone in developing nations. Read More

WeGov

Crisis Tracker: An Open Source Map that Curates Crowdsourced Information

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 1 2012

An open source map mines data from Twitter, curates it and presents it with an Ushahidi-like interface. Read More

WeGov

Open Source Interactive Map Curates Crowdsourced Information

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, November 1 2012

An open source map called CrisisTracker mines Twitter for reports, clusters them, and supports curation of report clusters with the help of volunteers. Read More

WeGov

Inexpensive Smart Phones Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, October 31 2012

Image from the Mozilla blog

While the release of low cost smartphones is a welcome development, their rapid proliferation could come at the cost of presenting an opportunity for malicious hackers. Read More