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Civic Tech and Engagement: In Search of a Common Language

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 5 2014

Marten van Valkenborsch, Construction of the Tower of Babel (c. 1600)

We need much clearer language to describe civic tech. Too often, people working in this field struggle to put into words what it is they are striving for. It's not enough to assume that, like the Supreme Court and obscenity, we know good civic tech when we see it. And if we can't say why something is good (or even great), how can we know what to design for? Indeed, how do we even know if we're after the same design goals? Read More

WeGov

Ushahidi Provides Journalists With Instant Real-Time Crisis Data

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, August 20 2014

Ushahidi's CrisisNET platform provides reporters with accurate and timely data culled from social media (credit: Ushahidi)

Times have changed since Ushahidi first launched its crisis mapping platform in the violent aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya. With the use of social media now widespread, so too has the way in which many media, international organizations, and local NGOs now work. Ushahidi has had to go social. Read More

WeGov

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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News Briefs

RSS Feed monday >

After Election Loss, Teachout and Wu Keep Up Net Neutrality and Anti-Comcast Merger Campaign

The Teachout/Wu campaign may have lost, but their pro net-neutrality campaign continued Monday as both former candidates participated in a rallly in New York City marking the final day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission's Internet proposals and kept up their pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo. GO

friday >

NYC Politicians and Advocacy Groups Say Airbnb Misrepresents Sharing Economy

A coalition of New York election officials and affordable housing groups have launched an advocacy effort targeting Airbnb called "Share Better" that includes an ad campaign, a web platform, and social media outreach. GO

First POST: Data Dumps

The Internet Slowdown's impact on the FCC; Uber drivers try to go on strike; four kinds of civic tech; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Positive Sums

How Teachout won some wealthy districts while Cuomo won some poor ones; DailyKos's explosive traffic growth; using Facebook for voter targeting; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Emergence

Evaluating the Teachout-Wu challenge; net neutrality defenders invoke an "internet slowdown"; NYC's first CTO; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

De Blasio Names Minerva Tantoco First New York City CTO

Mayor Bill de Blasio named Minerva Tantoco as first New York City CTO Tuesday night in an announcement that was greeted with applause and cheers at the September meeting of the New York Tech Meet-Up. In his remarks, De Blasio said her task would be to develop a coordinated strategy for technology and innovation as it affects the city as a whole and the role of technology in all aspects of civic life from the economy and schools to civic participation, leading to a "redemocratization of society." He called Tantoco the perfect fit for the position as a somebody who is "great with technology, has a lot of experience, abiltiy and energy and ability to create from scratch and is a true New Yorker." GO

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