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Some White House Petitions Are Still Unanswered More Than a Year After Earning a Response [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Since the launch of the White House's "We the People" e-petition site, 232 petitions have met their signature thresholds, which are supposed to trigger an official response from the administration. So far, 202 of those have been responded to, in an average of 61 days. Of the 30 unanswered petitions, the average wait time is a whopping 240 days, or eight months. These delightful facts have been surfaced by Eli Dourado, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. He built his new transparency site, WHPetitions.info, "because the list of successful petitions that are awaiting a reply seems like a glaring omission from the We The People site." Read More

The Top Tech-Politics Developments of 2013, So Far

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 1 2013

Every six months or so, we add more items to our "Politics and the Internet" Timeline, a living document that now includes more than 160 items stretching back to 1968 and covering a range of domestic, international and online events. Keep in mind, this isn't an official list but just our best subjective judgment on the most important developments at the intersection of technology and politics. If you would like to suggest something that we've left out, or make a correction to the record, please use this form. After the jump--Here's what we've added for the period from January 2013 to the end of July: Read More

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

Are PIPA and SOPA Dead? White House Issues Strong Declaration Against Its Key Provisions

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Saturday, January 14 2012

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Internet activists? Illustration: Kainet / Flickr

The Obama administration on Saturday took the unprecedented step of engaging the internet community online about the problems that a pair of controversial online intellectual property protection bills would cause online businesses and start-ups. Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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