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WeGov

Mapping Technology Allows NGOs to Coordinate Disaster Relief in West Africa

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, July 26 2012

Screenshot from SahelResponse website

In a textbook example of how technology can be used to coordinate crisis management, SahelResponse has created a map that helps NGOs coordinate food relief in the drought-and-conflict -afflicted Sahel region of West Africa. Read More

How the Crowd Wrote a Constitution: Learning From Iceland

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, July 26 2012

How does a small, consensus-driven, homogenous country sit down and write a constitution from scratch in the wake of a major financial meltdown? Political science professor Silja Ómarsdóttir describes the remarkable, collaborative process of writing a constitution that would reflect Iceland's national values and restore faith in the country's institutions. Read More

WeGov

Is Civic Hacking Becoming 'Our Pieces, Loosely Joined?'

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, July 25 2012

David Eaves writes: "So far, it appears that the spirit of re-use among the big players, like MySociety and the Sunlight Foundation*, only goes so deep. Indeed often it seems they are limited to believing others should re-use their code. There are few examples where the bigger players dedicate resources to support other people's components. Again, it is fine if this is all about creating competing platforms and competing to get players in smaller jurisdictions who cannot finance creating whole websites on their own to adopt it. But if this is about reducing duplication then I'll expect to see some of the big players throw resources behind components they see built elsewhere. So far it isn't clear to me that we are truly moving to a world of 'small pieces loosely joined' instead of a world of 'our pieces, loosely joined.'" Read More

WeGov

YouTube Now Lets You Blur Faces in Videos: What This Means for Safety-Minded Activists

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 18 2012

Today YouTube is rolling out a new feature that allows users to obscure faces that appear within videos before posting them.

"Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube," YouTube policy associate Amanda Conway wrote in a blog post.

One expert in video in activism calls this "a step in the right direction," but warns that the most important tool for videographers is an understanding of when and why to use this kind of feature.

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WeGov

How the New York Times Uses Citizen Media to Watch "Syria's War"

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, July 16 2012

Source: YouTube via nytimes.com.

Forced to watch ongoing violence and unrest in Syria from afar, the New York Times launched "Watching Syria's War," an interactive page that presents, parses and explains videos coming out of the country from a growing group of activists and everyday citizens. In an edited interview with Lisa Goldman, page editor J David Goodman explains how the project works, from the way the Times breaks down what is or isn't credible for its visitors to what the entire endeavor might say about the future of conflict reporting. Read More

Indonesian Website Names and Shames Corrupt Officials

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, July 3 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new website that names and shames Indonesian officials convicted of corruption. Transparency International ranks Indonesia as one of the most corrupt countries. Korupedia was launched by Indonesian activists and journalists. Read More

Hamburg’s New Transparency Law – Lessons for Activists

BY David Eaves | Friday, June 29 2012

David Eaves: "Two weeks ago, the State Government of Hamburg passed a new law that required all government information not impacted by privacy issues to be posted online. The law is part of a next generation of access to information laws — like the one passed in Brazil — that requires government information to be disclosed and made available online in a machine readable format. As Christian Humborg, one of the key activists behind the law, said: “An Adobe PDF document is no longer sufficient.” I asked him what activists around the world could learn from victory for Hamburg's transparency advocates. What follows is a summary of our conversation." Read More

WeGov

Can Tech-Savvy Activists Change Mexico's Presidential Elections?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 28 2012

Student-led protests in Mexico organized around the #yosoy132 hashtag. Photo: MaloMalverde

Are Sunday's presidential elections a fulcrum for the scales of power in Mexico? Is it fair to say Internet-powered student protesters are on one side of that balance beam? And if so, which way is it swinging? I asked Diego Beas, a columnist for Reforma and a keen observer of technology's role in politics throughout the Americas, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Both have been following Mexico's presidential elections closely, and both have the tech background necessary to understand and explain the role of networked politics in this election, but the two have very different perspectives on whether the student protesters are getting anywhere. Click through for a video of our conversation. Read More

WeGov

Brazil's Open-Government Shock Treatment

BY Greg Michener | Wednesday, June 27 2012

Officials in Brazil's government have had a transparency shock treatment in the past year. Photo: Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

Countries arrive at more transparency and greater freedom of information either through long training or sudden shock treatment.

The U.S. experience, with decades of incremental law and legal precedent, is synonymous with the archetypical training regime. Brazil, on the other hand, is undergoing the epitome of shock treatment. In one month, May 2012, Brazil formally launched an ambitious freedom of information law that outlines a "right to information" – replete with provisions for the release of information in open, computer-readable formats – and, at around the same time, a new open-data portal. For added shock, the Brazilian government inaugurated a second new fundamental right, the "right to historical truth." This right is embodied by the newly established Truth Commission, whose aim it is to reconcile abuses from the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Brazil also currently occupies the co-chair of the Open Government Partnership. In short, Brazil is in the midst of a massive transparency offensive and there are positive signs that it is moving in the right direction.

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WeGov

Reporter Detained in Sudan After Posting YouTube Video of Khartoum Protests

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, June 22 2012

Protesters at an anti-government protest in Khartoum, Sudan

For the sixth day in a row, Khartoum university students were out protesting massive increases in the price of meals and transportation that stem from new government austerity measures. Reporters and activists on the ground in Sudan say the size of the protests are clearly worrying the government of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir — and government forces are cracking down, attempting to limit people's ability to publish video and photos from a political moment that some are debating whether or not to call the arrival of the Arab Spring in Sudan. Efforts to capture images of the unrest, they say, are being hampered by government forces, including the brief detention of one reporter who posted video to YouTube. Read More