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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

More Fodder For Social Media Activism Pessimists

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 10 2014

A recent study of the Save Darfur Facebook campaign found that the massive participation online gave the “illusion of activism rather than facilitating the real thing.” More evidence, if it was needed, that the “revolution will not be tweeted.”

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WeGov

Snowden EU Testimony Renews Calls to Grant Asylum

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 7 2014

"Blame the Game" campaign screenshot

On Monday, Edward Snowden will participate in his first live discussion before an audience as part of SXSW Interactive through a video conference with his legal advisor Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, as well as digital privacy expert Christopher Soghoian. (Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has asked SXSW to cancel the webcast, The Hill reported). Snowden's discussion will come amidst renewed calls in Europe to grant him asylum. Read More

WeGov

Facebook's Got A Finger in India's Political Pie

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 5 2014

Screenshot of Facebook's election tracker

Facebook is an increasingly active political force in India. The company launched their Indian election tracker Tuesday to coincide with the first Facebook Talks Live digital broadcast, “Town Hall” style conversations in which 2014 candidates field questions submitted by Facebook users. These projects build on the get-out-the-vote collaboration between the Times of India and Facebook, which was announced in September.

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WeGov

YanukovychLeaks.org Exposes a Corrupt and Violent Regime

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, March 5 2014

Picture courtesy of Fundacja ePaństwo

Thousands of documents float and sink in a remote reservoir not far from a grand 345-acre estate contained within a sprawling wrought iron fence. As evocative as it may seem, this not the beginning of a spy thriller, but of Yanukovych Leaks, an online portal where the leaks have been uploaded by investigative journalists who say the extravagance detailed in those papers may prove ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's depth of corruption. Read More

WeGov

Surveillance in the Overlooked Corners of Africa

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 4 2014

Screenshot of Appelbaum and Marques

In the video below, filmed during the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2013, Jacob Appelbaum breaks it to Rafael Marques, an Angolan investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist, that his laptop is being surveilled through a crude backdoor in spite of the fact that he is using Tor. He opens up a file where they can see all the images that have been stored and are waiting to be collected by the hackers. Appelbaum tells an understandably concerned Marques: “Every computer that's targeted is compromisable,”

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WeGov

Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

WeGov

How To Follow… The Crisis in Ukraine (Updated)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 3 2014

Kiev, February 18, 2014 (Аимаина хикари/Wikipedia)

The EuroMaidan Revolution has passed the 100 day mark and Russian forces have taken control of parts of Crimea. The New York Times described the escalating conflict between Russia and the West as “reminiscent of low points in the Cold War.” The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said that “we are on the brink of disaster.”

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WeGov

How Ukraine's EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, February 28 2014

Protestors in Kiev on Dec. 22, 2013. (credit: grocap/flickr)

After three months of demonstrations and fighting on the streets, ending with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, there are few doubts that the Internet and social media played major roles in the revolution. While the Ukrainian press coverage was often limited, technology and online platforms not only materially sustained the protesters, but also helped them to reach an international audience. Read More

WeGov

Newest Twist in Pakistan YouTube Ban Case Comes From…California

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 27 2014

Blocked! (Wikipedia)

On February 26, a U.S. federal appeals court ordered Google Inc to remove the film “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube for copyright violations. The film sparked protests throughout the Middle East after it was released in September 2012, and demonstrations in parts of Pakistan turned violent. Pakistan's Prime Minister ordered YouTube to be blocked, ostensibly to prevent any further violence as a result of “Innocence of Muslims.” The Pakistani Internet rights organization Bytes For All has challenged the YouTube ban in court, and now that Google has been ordered to remove the film from YouTube, point out that there is now no reason to keep the site blocked.

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WeGov

You Will Not Believe How A Gas Station Almost Stole 700 Indian Rupees Worth of Gas From This Guy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Screenshot of Shankar explaining the scam

Even without the Upworthy-esque headline, one man's Facebook video explaining how routine petty larceny occurs at gas stations in India went viral and spawned spontaneous organization around the topic. It is an example of the culture of civic engagement in India that breeds successful projects like I Paid A Bribe.

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WeGov

Telegram: Viable WhatsApp Alternative from Russia, But Still Questionably Secure

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Telegram (U.S. National Archives/Wikipedia)

After Facebook bought the messaging application WhatsApp on February 19 for a whopping $19 billion dollars, the messaging app Telegram, a product of the “Russian Zuckerberg” Pavel Durov, surged in popularity.

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WeGov

The UAE Wants to Speed Up Government Service Delivery With Drones

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Screenshot of Netflix's (fake) "Drone2Home" program

Earlier this month Netflix released a short mock commercial poking fun at Amazon's plans to create a drone delivery service called Prime Air.

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WeGov

The Apocalypsticle: Better-Than-Nothing Tabloid Journalism or the Plague of New Media?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Kiev, February 18, 2014 (Аимаина хикари/Wikipedia)

The age old truism “A picture is worth a thousand words” is once again up for debate. Sarah Kendzior, writing for Politico, threw down the gauntlet in the article “The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine,” in which she criticizes the use of “apocalypsticles” to cover events in Ukraine as mere clickbait. Emily Bell responded in The Guardian, writing that listicles are valuable precisely because they are accessible, and to criticize a media form for catering to non-elites is “perverse.”

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WeGov

What To Do With Those Fake Photos From Venezuela

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, February 24 2014

A photo from a 2011 Al Jazeera story about student protests in Chile was repurposed in Venezuela earlier this month.

WeGov

Absent a Labor Union, Chinese Workers Organize With Social Media and Cheap Smartphones

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, February 21 2014

A clothing factory in Dongguan, China (credit: Ed-meister/flickr)

A new report by the China Labour Bulletin says that since China does not allow the formation of independent trade unions, social media and affordable smartphones have served as crucial organizing tools for Chinese workers. Read More

WeGov

After Snowden Leaks, Is a Promise Enough to Protect Digital Rights in Europe? (updated)

BY Antonella Napolitano and Miranda Neubauer | Friday, February 21 2014

WePromise.eu

In Europe, a coalition of privacy and civil rights groups, known as EDRi, is pushing to keep digital rights and privacy a hot button issue through a new online petitioning platform, WePromise, strategically using the political momentum of the EU's upcoming parliamentary elections: 28 EU countries are currently immersed in electoral campaigning and between May 22nd and 25th, citizens from all over Europe will elect 751 new (and old) Members of the European Parliament. So it seems that EDRi's launch of WePromise in early February couldn't come at a better time. But is making promises enough? Read More

WeGov

Transparency Optional? Try Poderopedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 21 2014

Transparency is important (Seth Thomas Rasmussen/Flickr)

In many parts of the world, political transparency is still considered to be optional. Take Panama, for example, where political candidates are not required to declare assets, sources of funding or potential conflicts of interest. This puts the onus of discovery and exposure on the public. However, before Panama voters head to the polls in May they can check a Poderopedia-powered platform chock full of vital information crowdsourced (and verified) by journalists and citizens. The project is called “Cuida Tu Voto” (“Watch Your Vote”) and launched in Panama City earlier this week.

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WeGov

Building an Automatic "Lie Detector" for Twitter

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 20 2014

American inventor Leonarde Keeler testing his lie-detector (Wikipedia/public domain)

An international group of researchers led by the University of Sheffield is building a social media “lie detector” called Pheme, after the mythological rumormonger, that can determine in real time whether a information spread on social media is true or false.

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WeGov

In India, an E-Gov Platform Inspired by Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 20 2014

In India, making the shift from paper to online (FriskoDude/Flickr)

On February 18 the Indian government launched an information website inspired by Wikipedia. Vikaspedia is available in five local languages, including English, and will eventually expand to include 22 more Indian languages.

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WeGov

Study: Most Twitter Slurs Show “In-Group Solidarity,” Not Hate

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 19 2014

Twitter search for "white boy"

A new study from the UK-based think-tank Demos found that racial and ethnic slurs on Twitter are more likely to be used in a non-aggressive way to align oneself with a particular group rather than to attack or deride others.

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