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WeGov

The Permanent Hackathon

BY Susannah Vila | Thursday, August 1 2013

Aren't you tired of pictures of hackathons? (Gary Dee/Wikimedia)

The hackathon model is being reimagined so that it’s less focused on discrete time-frames, ticking clocks and prize money, to more focused on building lasting communities across sectors, using physical spaces like innovation hubs, event series and virtual conversations. As these recent experiences suggest, replacing the traditional hackathon model with one that’s based on a continuous conversation promises three key advantages. Read More

What Edward Snowden Could Have Guessed About Bradley Manning's Verdict

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Photo: Ben Sutherland / Flickr

For the one man with the single biggest reason to follow the verdict issued Tuesday in the case of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the ruling will offer very little he did not already know. Read More

New York Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Lobbying Database

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, July 29 2013

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched a new lobbying database that the Cuomo administration and even some transparency advocates are calling the first of its kind in the United States. The Project Sunlight database provides information on meetings between government representatives and outside individuals relating to state procurement, rate-making, regulatory matters, agency-based judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, and the adoption or repeal of rules and regulations, according to a Cuomo press release. Read More

New York City Has a More Level Playing Field for Access to Real Estate Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 26 2013

New York City's Department of City Planning recently opened up free access to data files that link up maps of individual tax lots with financial data about those lots, following pressure from transparency advocates and media coverage. The data merges together information like owner name, assessed value and even details like floor-to-area ratio, a function of how tall a building is and how big a lot it sits on, which is a useful index of building density. (An area with zoning rules that allow for high FAR is an area that will have more, taller, buildings.) Read More

WeGov

An App to Shield Tibetans' Texts From Prying Eyes

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, July 24 2013

Monks protesting with Tibetan flags (image: SFTHQ)

There may finally be a tool Tibetans can more safely use – at less risk of censorship or surveillance – to communicate with each other inside and outside of Tibet. Since YakChat launched in March, the new messenging app has taken Tibetan activists “by storm,” explained Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project, an organization that creates secure, open-source communications software. Around 5,000 Tibetans have since adopted this app, though most of them are outside of Tibet. Read More

WeGov

Civic Hackers Build App to Visualize Votes in Argentina's National Congress

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 24 2013

Screenshot of Década Votada at work

Civic hackers have built an application to help Argentinian citizens and journalists track the voting records of Congress members. The app, called Década votada (A decade in votes), was the winning project at a Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires hackathon in April 2013.

Read More

WeGov

Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 19 2013

Screenshot of Citizen Desk's beta version (Sourcefabric.org)

The municipal elections in Mozambique are over four months away but short-staffed newsrooms are already preparing to deal with the persistent conundrum: how do they accurately cover the elections with over 2,500 polling stations to monitor across the country? A new tool called Citizen Desk allows newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections. Read More

WeGov

Kenya Launches a Revamped Website to File Taxes Online

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, July 16 2013

A screenshot of Kenya's new online tax filing system

As of July 1, a Kenyan had two options to file taxes: drive to a local banking hall and wait in a long line or submit them through a clunky website that often experienced delays in filing. But on the first of this month, Kenya’s Revenue Authority (KRA) rolled out a new online tax-filing platform called iTax. It was built in partnership with UBA Kenya Bank and according to the KRA, significantly improves upon its old system, KRA Online. Read More

WeGov

Two Mobile Birth Registration Programs Piloted in Senegal and Uganda

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 15 2013

The web application for mobile birth registration in Uganda (image: GSMA)

A recent study by GSMA revealed promising results of two mobile birth registration initiatives piloted in Uganda and Senegal. Birth registration, often a prerequisite for school enrollment and access to health services, are persistently low in Central and West Africa – 39 percent on average. In Senegal and Uganda, the rates are 55 and 21 percent, respectively, according to national Demographic and Health surveys. Read More

WeGov

The Five Star Movement Launches an Electronic Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

A screenshot of the electronic parliament platform (image: http://www.parlamento5stelle.com/)

On July 10, the Five Star Movement (M5S) introduced its long awaited "electronic parliament" platform, Five Star Parliament, which allows citizens to vote, comment and even write pieces of legislation. M5S is an anti-government political party led by former comedian Beppe Grillo. They put out the site just weeks after 15 members of the Italian parliament had launched their own, Tu Parlamento. Five Star Parliament is currently available only to those living in Lazio but will soon launch in Lombardy and Sicily, then nationally. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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