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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

Spanish Physicians Mount Online Campaign to Protest Cuts to Immigrant Health Care

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 11 2012

Screenshot taken from Derecho a Curar website

In response to budget cuts that would eliminate free health care for undocumented immigrants, Spanish physicians created an online protest campaign under the auspices of Medicos del Mundo. Read More

WeGov

Burma Liberalizes Internet Access, But Connectivity Remains out of Reach for the Vast Majority

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 11 2012

The Burmese government is lifting media censorship and lowering the cost of Internet access, but the cost remains prohibitive for most people in this impoverished nation. Freedom House examines the pros and cons of digital liberation in Burma in a report authored by a researcher who recently spent 10 days meeting activists in Rangoon. Read More

WeGov

Websites as Political Organizers

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 11 2012

A prominent Egyptian activist and labor organizer explains in detail how websites can be used for effective political organization. Includes fascinating data about the rise in Internet access amongst the very poor, whose primary portal is increasingly their mobile phones. Read More

WeGov

Firefox Targets Developing States with Open Source Affordable Smartphones

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, September 7 2012

Firefox has announced the 2013 launch of an open source operating system for smart phones. Since open source will bring down the price of a smart phone significantly, the initial launch will be in Latin America, with other developing regions to follow. Read More

WeGov

In the Middle East, Marginalized LGBT Youth Find Supportive Communities Online

BY Anna Lekas Miller | Thursday, September 6 2012

Image from Shutterstock.

In the Middle East, where homosexuality is so taboo that until very recently there was no word to describe it in Arabic, LGBT youth are increasingly turning to the Internet for support and community building. Read More

WeGov

Jordanian Websites Go Dark in Protest of Proposed Legislation to Censor Internet

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, August 31 2012

On Wednesday, Jordan's Internet went dark (screenshot from 7iber.com)

More than two hundred Jordanian websites went dark on Wednesday to protest proposed government legislation that would give the government sweeping powers to censor the Internet. In contrast to other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan's government, because of its unique economic and geographical circumstances, cares very much about public opinion. Read More

WeGov

In Georgia's Troubled Border Region, Text Messaging is Fostering Community Safety

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 28 2012

Screenshot from Elva homepage

On the troubled northern border of Georgia, next to the disputed territory of South Ossetia, where two wars have been fought in the last two decades, an NGO has been quietly pioneering a new kind of distributed reporting system, one that uses SMS text messaging and the web to combine the data-rich mapping of Ushahidi with the meticulous requirements of human-rights researchers. In a region where few people have internet access, they've come up with an ingenious solution for data gathering via text. Read More

WeGov

Crowdsourcing Disaster Response Via Social Media and SMS

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 27 2012

In two detailed and important blog posts, Patrick Meier explains how grassroots activists are using social media platforms and mobile phones to coordinate disaster relief, often when the government's response is inadequate. In many cases, Meier points out, the grassroots networks existed already, having been created as a means of coordinating political protest. Read More

WeGov

What to Do When Open Data Is Either Wrong, Scandalous, or Both?

BY David Eaves | Thursday, August 23 2012

David Eaves asks: How do governments and advocates handle open government data if it misreports the facts? Read More

WeGov

Vietnamese Authorities Charge Political Bloggers With "Conducting Propaganda Against the State"

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 23 2012

Vietnamese authorities have charged three prominent bloggers with "creating propaganda against the state" for having published videos and photos showing violent clashes between farmers and the police who had come to enforce the appropriation of their land for the construction of a luxury hotel. Read More

WeGov

How Mobile Phone Technology is Changing Lives in Developing States

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, August 22 2012

The Toronto Star has published a nice overview of how mobile phones are facilitating information access and improving peoples' lives in undeveloped regions with poor infrastructure. Read More

WeGov

How Simple Technology Facilitates Effective Communication and Relief in Disaster Zones

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, August 22 2012

Mobile phones and Internet access are now common in developing nations, but aid agencies have been slow to use that technology in order to implement effective two-way communication in disaster zones. A BBC media action policy briefing presents several case studies that illustrate how community organizations are effectively using simple available technology to create communication hubs and facilitate disaster relief. Read More

WeGov

Young Iranians Use Mobile and Social Media to Mobilize Grassroots Relief for Earthquake Victims

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, August 21 2012

In response to the government's poor response in delivering aid to earthquake survivors in northeast Iran, young middle class people from Tehran are mobilizing grassroots relief efforts to collect and deliver supplies via social media platforms, circumventing the government's block on Facebook via VPNs. Read More

WeGov

Mapping Syria's Civil War

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, August 21 2012

Screenshot of the map created by the Institute for the Study of War

The BBC reports that the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has compiled a map that shows what parts of Syria are in the hands of the Free Syrian Army and what parts are still under the regime's control. Read More

WeGov

India Bans Bulk Text Messages in Vain Attempt to Quell Rumors of Internecine Conflict

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 20 2012

In an attempt to stop a panicked mass migration due to rumors spread via text messages and social media, the Indian government blocked websites and ordered mobile service providers to cap subscribers' emails at five per day. But Internet savvy phone users easily circumvented the cap on text messages and Indians jeered on Twitter, using the hashtag #5SMS to criticize the government's ham fisted attempts at censorship Read More

WeGov

Is Sina Weibo a Means of Free Speech or a Means of Social Control?

BY David Eaves | Friday, August 17 2012

Photo: Francisco Diaz / Flickr

Over noodles in Beijing, David Eaves and Michael Anti discussed how Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging platform in China, actually creates a new means of social control for the central Chinese government. While it allows dissent, Anti argues, Weibo serves as a central platform for citizen speech — operated by a company over which the Chinese central government can exert significant influence. Read More

WeGov

Spain's Draft Law on Transparency and Access to Information Disappoints Civil Society NGOs

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, August 15 2012

Spain is the only large European democracy that lacks a law mandating government transparency and the right of citizens to access information. Recently, in response to public demands and the country's deepening economic and social crisis, the government passed a Draft Law on Transparency and Access to Information. But the law does not include clauses that civil society groups regard as fundamental — such as the recognition that access to information is a citizen's fundamental right. Read More

WeGov

Is This the Rise of the Civic Hacker Hub?

BY David Eaves | Thursday, August 2 2012

The tech startup space has a long history of creating work spaces that bring together the various players — VCs, ideas people, business types and developers – necessary to launch new projects. Some of these spaces — the iHub in Nairobi strikes me as the most powerful example — have served as hosts to hackathons and sessions that bring together a similar set of actors in the open government and civic hacking space. It will be interesting to see if efforts to transfer that model to the opengov space develop. Read More

WeGov

With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More

WeGov

Ukrainian Civic Movement Unveils Online Tool to Monitor Parliament Members

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, July 30 2012

A new tool for monitoring parliament members' activity is now available online, the Kyiv Post reports. The tool has been created by Chesno (“honest”), a civic movement founded a year ago by a group of civil society organizations with the aim of empowering citizens with information tools and improving their knowledge and political choices. Read More