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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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In Brooklyn, Testing a Texting Platform That Connects Locals, Representatives & Community Leaders

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 14 2014

The neighborhoods in Brooklyn where Heartgov is being tested.

Civic engagement shouldn't be a one way street. In New York City, for example, you can text 311 to report something like a pot hole, but what if you wanted to start a dialogue about charter schools in your neighborhood? The information hotline wasn't built to handle conversations like that, but a new text message-based platform called HeartGov is.

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First POST: Seers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 8 2014

Obama campaign guru predicts campaigns by hologram; the Senate intelligence committee takes up cybersecurity; a report card on Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

An Ushahidi-Powered Platform Shows "Free" Healthcare In India Comes With Hidden Costs

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Mother and child, India. (Thessaly La Force/Flickr)

Two and a half years after a pilot program called Mera Swasthya Meri Aawaz (My Health, My Voice) was launched to record and document the informal fees that plague India's “free” maternal health services in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of reports have been collected and mapped. The Indian human rights organization Sahayog, which helped launched the initiative, tells techPresident that around 40 public health facilities in two Uttar Pradesh districts have been connected to informal fees, a kind of low-level corruption.

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WeGov

Ushahidi's CrisisNet Aims to Provide Usable Crisis Data "Within Seconds"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Screenshot: Ushahidi.com

Open source technology-maker Ushahidi only made their new crisis data tool public this week, but there are already several neat examples of potential uses, like this map of social media-reported violence in Syria and an analysis of the Twitter protests of the 2014 World Cup. Co-founder Chris Albon describes CrisisNet as a “crisis data firehose” that automates time consuming processes like cleaning and formatting data streams to make it easier and much faster for crisis responders to make use of crowdsourced information.

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Out-Innovated

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, June 2 2014

China goes all out to block Google; online outrage against violence against women in both China and India; Russia's newfound allergy to digital currency; is Africa out-innovating Silicon Valley?; and much more. Read More

WeGov

The Future of Election Monitoring

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, December 13 2013

What does an algorithm know about the difference between tamales and Tamale, Ghana? (Flickr/fcastellanos)

The Social Media Tracking Centre (SMTC) is an election monitoring process that pulls in information from multiple data streams—Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and blogs and websites—and can be used to generate visualizations and other analytics. It was first launched to monitor Nigeria's elections in April 2011, and then subsequently used in Liberia, Ghana and Kenya.

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WeGov

Social Change Is What Happens When You're Busy Making Other Plans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 19 2013

Cover image courtesy of Ken Banks

During his time as a fellow at Stanford University in 2007, Ken Banks noticed a growing number of students going to school to study social innovation and social entrepreneurship. “Then they leave the gates of the building and go 'Right, what can I fix?'”

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First POST: The Clash

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 30 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: As Congress goes over the cliff, is it time for a clean slate?; Is the NSA mapping your social network?; a new sharing company built that connects cooks to hungry city dwellers is taking off in Athens; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Mostly Thumbs Up for Uchaguzi Election Monitoring in Kenya

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, July 12 2013

Uchaguzi election monitoring map of the "POSITIVE EVENTS" that were reported

To ensure a fair and free, nonviolent election in Kenya earlier this year, the non-profit tech company Ushahidi launched an election monitoring platform called Uchaguzi. This month iHub Research released a report based on a six month long assessment of the use of Uchaguzi in Kenya this year. The review was performed in order to assess scalability, replicability and long term sustainability.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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wednesday >

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

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