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Baba Ramdev, the Yoga Guru Who Is Now On an Anti-Corruption Crusade

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, August 10 2012

Photo taken from Baba Ramdev's Facebook page

For years, Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev was famous for his teachings on meditation, Ayurvedic healing and yoga asanas. His followers liked his Facebook page, followed his Twitter timeline and watched his Youtube videos. Now he has leveraged his social media fame as he turns to political activism, fasting to protest government corruption. And the mainstream media is paying attention. Read More

Iranian Government Plans to Disconnect Government Agencies from the Internet

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, August 8 2012

Iran plans to move several of its ministries and state agencies offline as a way of protecting them behind a secure computer wall from what it sees as online threats, the Telegraph reported. An Iranian official also said the measure is the first step in the launch of a long-rumored domestic intranet system set to start in 18 months, per the Telegraph. Read More

In the Philippines, Coordinating Flood Rescue Through Google Docs

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, August 7 2012

The government of the Philippines is using Google Docs and promoting the use of Google Crisis Response tools as it responds to massive floods that have submerged a third of the country's capital city, Manila, and have killed more than 50 people in the past week, according to New York Times reports. Read More

Vietnamese Blogger's Mother Sets Herself On Fire Ahead of Daughter's Trial, Reports Say

BY Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya | Monday, August 6 2012

Three political bloggers will be brought to trial tomorrow in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of "distorting the truth" and "denigrating the part and state," AFP reports. If convicted the bloggers could serve up to 20 years in jail. Read More

Bringing News to Sub-Saharan Africa Via SMS and Dial-to-Listen Programs

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, August 3 2012

Deutsche Welle has figured out how to disseminate the news in developing regions with low literacy rates and little access to electricity. The German media group launched a project that takes advantage of the high penetration of mobile phones in rural sub-Saharan Africa to delivers news via over-the-phone voice technology. All it takes to access the news programs is a simple mobile phone - no Internet access necessary. Users call a number to access Learning by Ear, an education show that broadcasts 10-minute segments on a variety of subjects ranging from health to politics. The cost is less than an ordinary phone call. Read More


Is This the Rise of the Civic Hacker Hub?

BY David Eaves | Thursday, August 2 2012

The tech startup space has a long history of creating work spaces that bring together the various players — VCs, ideas people, business types and developers – necessary to launch new projects. Some of these spaces — the iHub in Nairobi strikes me as the most powerful example — have served as hosts to hackathons and sessions that bring together a similar set of actors in the open government and civic hacking space. It will be interesting to see if efforts to transfer that model to the opengov space develop. Read More


With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More


Ukrainian Civic Movement Unveils Online Tool to Monitor Parliament Members

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, July 30 2012

A new tool for monitoring parliament members' activity is now available online, the Kyiv Post reports. The tool has been created by Chesno (“honest”), a civic movement founded a year ago by a group of civil society organizations with the aim of empowering citizens with information tools and improving their knowledge and political choices. Read More

In Rural Developing Regions, Free Software Turns Simple Mobile Phones into Tools of Advancement

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, July 27 2012

How Freedom Fone can help in crisis management (source: Freedom Fone)

A simple open-source telephony platform offers to bring communications networks to developing nations where literacy is low and Internet access limited. Freedom Fone is free software that enables organizations to create voice-activated communications networks. In regions where simple mobile phones are more common than toilets, let alone Internet access, Freedom Fone can be used to access, share and report information. Read More


Succeeding Means Letting Go: A Response to David Eaves

BY Tom Steinberg | Thursday, July 26 2012

Responding to David Eaves, mySociety Director Tom Steinberg pulls the lid off of a project in the works: a new open-source component for civic hackers, built by Chile's Ciudadano Inteligente, that will fit into mySociety's new Components framework. "It's because we believe," Steinberg writes, "that the only way that the Components can really thrive beyond our organizations is if they are truly interoperable over the web, truly owned by different people, and if they can handle massively varying political and cultural contexts. It is our goal that in the future any of the Components being used to underpin a website or app can be out and replaced by a clone that speaks the same API, but which may be built by a different group, in a different language. Interoperability and flexibility are everything." Read More