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How the White House Petition Site is Becoming a Digital Public Square

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, January 23 2013

Click throughs on the White House response to the "Death Star" petition

Most of the time, there is a huge disconnect between government and public. For years governments in the United States and Europe have been throwing money (away) at so-called e-government initiatives aimed at engaging the public, with the primary result of fattening lots of consultants' and designers' wallets. Most "e-government" platforms are relative ghost-towns. Meanwhile, as the Pew Center on the Internet & Public Life keeps reporting, the level of public discussion of politics online keeps rising--just not in places where it connects in any meaningful way with actual decision-makers. The "We the People" site is an important and growing exception to that rule. Read More

WeGov

How "We The People," the White House e-Petition Site, Could Help Form a More Perfect Union

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 20 2012

With nearly one million people signing petitions on the White House's "We the People" e-petition site calling for their state to secede from the Union, it's tempting to dismiss the platform as a lightning rod for the most disaffected Americans. But people petitioning the government could also be invited into a new kind of civic dialogue, one that might build on what "We the People" already promises: an official reply from the powers-that-be. Freed from the demands of another election and blessed with some of the smartest technologists in the country, the Obama Administration could use "We the People" to begin the work of constructing a real digital public square, not just another e-Potemkin village. Will they? Read More

Get Your Nerd On: Aspen Institute's #FOCAS11

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 3 2011

Watch live streaming video from aspeninstitute at livestream.com The Aspen Institute's Forum on Communications and Society, a four-day event on the way governance and civic life is changing in the networked world, began ... 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

Minnesota Govt Shuts Down, Will We-Govt Fill the Gap?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 1 2011

The Minnesota state government has shut down due to the collapse of efforts to reach a budget deal, and all kinds of state services are closing, including highway rest-stops, highway and bridge construction programs, ... 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

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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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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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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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