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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

Weekly Readings: "Mapocalypse"

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, May 19 2014

Mapping where you might die in an earthquake; Edward Snowden to testify before German parliament but in Russia or Germany?; Australia's social media superhero; India's social media-driven election; and much more. Read More

WeGov

European Parliament Releasing EU Election Results in Open Data Format

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, May 19 2014

2009 European Election Results

The European Parliament will be releasing result information from this upcoming weekend's EU parliamentary elections in open data format, it announced in a press release at the end of last week. Read More

WeGov

The EU and I: How to Vote for an MEP If You Can't Keep Your Parties Straight

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 15 2014

Screenshot of euandi results

Next week Europeans will go to the polls to elect representatives to the European Parliament. Over the course of four days, the 28 members states combined will choose 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). To help them with their decision, voters can turn to the Voting Advice Application euandi. After responding to 28 policy statements, euandi lists the parties that align most closely with voters' values. VAAs have been shown to increase voter turn out on election day and to raise voter awareness about political issues, but statement selection can have an outsized effect on recommendations, leaving plenty of room for bias and inaccuracy.

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WeGov

In Gaza, Tech Start-Ups Break Down Barriers to Entrepreneurship

BY Daniella Peled | Wednesday, May 14 2014

Gaza is now home to a promising startup scene (Mercy Corps)

In Gaza, where the blockade has made entrepreneurship difficult and some times impossible, enterprises that exist in a virtual world, one where the difficulty of physically crossing borders can be overcome, are becoming increasingly attractive. It’s too soon to tell whether entrepreneurship and a new fledgling tech start-up community is helping the beleaguered economy of the Strip, but those involved in the sector hope it can capture the imagination of a generation mired in frustration and give them hope for the future. Daniella Peled reports from Gaza. Read More

WeGov

When Cute Cats Aren't Enough to Save Vimeo (or Reddit, Imgur, & 100+ Other Sites Blocked in Indonesia)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 14 2014

In his 2008 talk on the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, Ethan Zuckerman said “if you're not getting porn in your system, it doesn't work.” The idea is that popular platforms flush with cute cats and other innocuous, user-generated content are robust enough to support more controversial content, like pornography and social and political activism. Governments around the world, however, are throwing cute cats to the wind in their quest to rid the Internet of pornography (as impossible as that must seem to people who use the Internet). The most recent victims of the porn crackdown: Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur, which are now all blocked in Indonesia.

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WeGov

Monithon, a Government “Monitoring Marathon” in Italy

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, May 14 2014

One of the layers of the Monithon Map shows government-confiscated real estate that once belonged to the mafia

In Italy, an independently developed initiative called "Monithon" is trying to foster online citizen observation and reporting on the development of projects funded by the European Union, a topic of particular interest at the moment given it is only a week from the European Parliamentary elections. Read More

WeGov

EU Court Rules Google Must Remove Search Listings Under "Right to Be Forgotten"

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, May 13 2014

A European court ruled today that citizens have the "right to be forgotten" or that they can request that certain private information be removed from online searches. The ruling comes amidst an EU proposal to reform data protection laws that began in 2012. Read More

WeGov

British Police Officers Ask Blogger to Delete Politically Critical Tweet

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 13 2014

This weekend two Cambridgeshire police officers called upon the blogger Michael Abberton at his home residence. After asking to come in for a chat they asked Abberton to delete a certain tweet, even though they clearly said no laws had been broken. According to Abberton, who wrote about the exchange on his blog Axe of Reason, the complaint had come from the political party mentioned in the offending (although not in any way illegal) tweet. The exchange has raised questions about censorship, police intimidation, and the influence of this political party.

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WeGov

Guatemala Wants Citizens to Pick Up Slack on Sky High Crime Rates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 12 2014

To say Guatemala struggles to curb crime rates would be an understatement. Per the official numbers, only two percent of crimes are prosecuted (meaning a whopping 98 percent are not, not at all). Could a new citizen-driven crime reporting tool help change that?

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Joining the Amish

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, May 12 2014

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. Read More

WeGov

Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

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WeGov

In Armenia & Georgia, Data Sites Meant to Bring Transparency to Gov't Face Uphill Battles

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 7 2014

Young Georgians learn how to file a freedom of information request in the video below

The website OpenData.ge launched at the end of February as a place to store, organize and display freedom of information requests. It is a collaborative effort of four Georgian NGOs with assistance from the international NGO Huridocs, which works with organizations around the globe to harness the power of information to advance human rights. Georgia, however, has the advantage of relative government cooperation. In neighboring Armenia an organization of journalists launched PublicData.am with help from Huridocs in 2011 but have since struggled both against an unresponsive government and an indifferent media.

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WeGov

MOOCs Gain Popularity in China in Spite of Barriers to Access and Anxiety About Western Influence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Screenshot of Coursera Zone

Coursera's founder Andrew Ng has announced that China is the education platform's fastest growing market after the United States. More Chinese users download the Android app than in any other country, and China ranks second in number of iOS downloads.

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WeGov

More Confusion Within Iranian Government on Censorship

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Iran announced over the weekend its plans to block Whatsapp but President Hassan Rouhani claims the ban will not take place. Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: War on Rumors

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, May 5 2014

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. Read More

WeGov

Mexican Politicians "Cave" to Internet Activists, But Was It A Ruse?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico share a toast (Wikipedia)

Last week activists in Mexico drew the world's attention to a bill proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would do away with net neutrality and user privacy measures, among other changes. The protest hashtag #EPNvsInternet (Enrique Peña Nieto vs the Internet) drew nearly a million tweets and became a global trending topic. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to protest the bill on April 22 in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The media reported that Mexico's governing party immediately backed away from the proposed legislation, with promises to change the problematic clauses before the vote, which has been postponed until June. However, activists behind #EPNvsInternet worry that the party will try to pass the bill with little to no changes during the Football World Cup, when the attention of their citizens is elsewhere.

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WeGov

PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups

BY Eilís O'Neill | Friday, May 2 2014

Listening to the opening speeches at PoplusCon (credit: Eilis O'Neill)

Almost 100 civic coders and activists from 27 countries came together from April 29 to 30, in Santiago, Chile for PoplusCon where participants discussed how to create easy-to-use tools, what they call Poplus components, that allow civil society to create legislative monitoring websites. TechPresident reports on the conference from Santiago, Chile. Read More

WeGov

Poderopedia to Increase Transparency in South America's Most Corrupt Country

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

An illustration from the Poderopedia video, below

How a wealthy Chilean politician is making sure his son isn't punished to the full extent of the law for manslaughter after he hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk. Exposing the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee who also leases land to energy companies. Fact checking the 2013 presidential debates and live-tweeting the results. These are just a few of the stories made possible by Poderopedia, a platform on which journalists use public information and investigative reporting to build profiles of major political and financial players, and then map their familial ties, business connections, and other potential conflicts of interest. The second chapter of Poderopedia will launch in Venezuela tomorrow, on World Press Freedom Day, and another chapter will launch in Colombia before June. Poderopedia is finally on its way to world domination.

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WeGov

With New Android App, Chinese Netizens Can See What Their Gov't Wants to Suppress

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 30 2014

Weibo via @RichardBuangan

Last year, on the 24th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Chinese netizens uploaded doctored images of the iconic photograph of the “Tank Man,” with big yellow ducks or Angry Birds characters taking the place of the military vehicles. Searches for “big yellow duck” on the microblogging platform Sina Weibo were summarily censored, and individual images hand-deleted. It seems almost inevitable that something similar will flood the Chinese Internet this year, yet when and if it does, Chinese citizens will be able to use the Android app FreeWeibo to peruse deleted posts.

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WeGov

#HackJak: Jakarta's First Gov-Sponsored Open Data Hackathon Tackles Budget and Public Transportation

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 29 2014

TransJakarta Network map (Wikipedia)

Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, held its first government-sponsored open data hackathon on April 26 and 27. More than 100 participants collaborated on 53 projects using either Jakarta's 2014 budget or public transportation route information.

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