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We Didn't Start the Fire: Using Social Media to Catch LA's Arsonist

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 3 2012

The Los Angeles Times reports on how the city's police and fire departments overcame their distrust of social media to tap into the real-time public conversation about the rash of car-burnings of the last four days. “This investigation is social media phenomenon," Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker told the paper. “Early, in terms of the public information office, the PIOs noticed that a lot of the best information was coming from and being distributed by social media. We wanted to speak to the public where the public is, and that is social media.” Using a common Twitter handle (@arsonwatchla) and Facebook page also helped. Read More

White House Applauds Technological 'Champions of Change'

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 3 2011

In Virginia, residents can go online to watch hundreds of hours of footage of floor speeches from the state legislature. A tool to analyze data on asthma attacks is expanding use, providing medical information that could ... Read More

Advocate to Lawmakers: Using the Internet, Making Better Maps, Is 'Kind Of What We're Paying You For'

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 23 2011

Bay County American Civil Liberties Union President Bill Pritchard, speaking at a redistricting hearing in Bay County, Fla., that had maps of the current districts but no proposed districts as they would be for the next ... Read More

Citizen Science and Transparency Projects Among Knight News Challenge Winners Announced Today

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 22 2011

Today, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation* announced the winners of the fifth and final year of the Knight News Challenge, explaining how it will allocate this year's nearly $5 million pool of money to support ... Read More

With 'Macon Money,' Knight Foundation Hopes a Hyperlocal Project Will Go Global

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, June 21 2011

After connecting hundreds of people and generating nearly $65,000 in business for local shops and restaurants in Macon, Ga., an online-offline game that uses alternative currency to spur civic engagement may be going ... Read More

'Macon Money,' A Project to Connect Neighbors Online, Offline, and With Cash

BY Becky Kazansky | Tuesday, June 21 2011

Currencies aren't necessary known for bringing communities together, but in the case of a game called Macon Money, that was exactly the point: Game creators Area/Code, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight ... Read More

Meet Commons, the Mobile, Social Gamification of 311

BY Becky Kazansky | Tuesday, June 21 2011

New Yorkers have a new way to identify problems and solutions in their city with the launch of Commons, a mobile, social game which aims to make 311 an easy and social experience through a platform for citizens to ... Read More

At PdF11, Vivek Kundra Reiterates Open Government Cost Savings, Importance of the Cloud

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, June 7 2011

The federal government should continue its move to cloud computing and hosting services, for cost savings and to avoid a reliance on outdated infrastructure, U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said earlier this ... Read More

On 'Cities as Software'

BY Nick Judd | Monday, May 23 2011

Marcus Westbury, the festival organizer who led an effort to reinvigorate the downtown in his native Newcastle, Australia, by filling it with small businesses, art installations and temporary uses, shares an article he ... Read More

The Growth of Hometown Hacking

BY Nick Judd | Monday, May 23 2011

Inspired by soon-to-be-expatriate Chicagoan Christopher Groskopf, Virginia web designer S.D. Salyer now says he'll do for his native Washington County, Va., what Groskopf has begun to do for Tyler, Tex.: Following in ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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