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First POST: Interception

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 10 2014

First Look Media's "The Intercept" launches; Edward Snowden's reported use of a "web crawler" doesn't impress software engineers; the GOP is targeting coders to help them build their voter-targeting operation; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

With Both Scalpel and Cudgel, Iran Censors Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Screenshot of Emma Watson's Persian Wikipedia page, which is blocked in Iran.

What do the BBC, the Bahá'í faith and Emma Watson have in common? They are among the 963 blocked Persian Wikipedia articles according to a report released earlier this month, “Citation Filtered: Iran's Censorship of Wikipedia.”

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WeGov

Rwandapedia: Their Story, Their Way

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 7 2013

Rwandan Flag (Wikipedia)

Last week at the Transform Africa Summit, a conference centered on development and ICT, Rwanda launched a digital archive called Rwandapedia, a collection of cultural and historical information about the country. The site as it is now focuses on the past 20 years, after the genocide in 1994. However, much like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Rwandapedia is a platform through which anyone can submit stories and material, and will eventually encompass a much deeper history.

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First POST: Contained Fury

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Members of the House Intelligence Committee disagree about whether the NSA has kept them fully informed; Sen. Rand Paul a serial plagiarizer?; An antidote to technolibertarianism; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

"Dumbphones" To Get A Bit Smarter With Wikipedia Zero

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 28 2013

Times have been tough for Wikipedia. Earlier in October the Wikimedia Foundation disabled a ring of more than 250 fake accounts used by a public relations firm to write and edit company pages. The scandal has prompted at least one writer to wonder if Wikipedia is getting worse. Other have pointed to the fact that there are 20,000 fewer active contributing editors now than in 2007, and blame the “crushing bureaucracy” and “abrasive atmosphere” created by the current collective, which is 90 percent male. In spite of the recent bad press, the beleaguered site has announced a new pilot program called Wikipedia Zero, which will provide access to 70 million new users without computers, smartphones or data plans.

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First POST: Agility

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 25 2013

How two Democratic tech gurus would fix HealthCare.gov; how the NSA scandal is threatening US-Europe relations; how a Syrian Kurd living in exile built a mobile tool that alerts subscribers in Syria when a government-fired Scud missile is headed their way; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Twitterization

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The download on Peter Hamby's must-read report on Twitter's impact on 2012 campaign coverage; Jeff Bezos gives some clues to his plans for the Washington Post; Ethan Zuckerman thinks citizen science could help reduce NIMBYism; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Oversight

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 5 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers:How congressional "oversight" of the NSA doesn't work; Bruce Sterling and Tom Scott's mordant takes on our times; the growing backlash against Jim Messina going Tory; and more in today's round-up of news about technology in politics from around the web. Read More

Democratic Promise: Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

BY Micah L. Sifry | Saturday, January 12 2013

Aaron Swartz at a Boston Wikipedia Meetup, August 2009, By Sage Ross.

Aaron Swartz, a leading activist for open information, internet freedom, and democracy, died at his own hand Friday January 11. He was 26 years old. There is no single comprehensive list of his good works, but here are some of them: At the age of 14 he co-authored the RSS 1.0 spec--taking brilliant advantage of the fact that internet working groups didn't care if someone was 14, they only cared if their code worked. Then he met Larry Lessig and worked closely with him on the early architecting of Creative Commons, an immense gift to all kinds of sharing of culture. He also was the architect and first coder of the Internet Archive's OpenLibrary.org, which now has made more than one million books freely available to anyone with an internet connection. "We couldn't have come this far without his crucial expertise," Open Library says on its about page. He also co-founded Reddit.com, the social news site, and Demand Progress, an online progressive action group that played a vital role in the anti-SOPA/PIPA fight. He also contributed occasionally to Personal Democracy Forum, writing this article on why wikis work and this essay on "parpolity" or the idea that nested councils of elected representatives could be used to represent a whole country, for our 2008 book, Rebooting America. He was a fellow traveler. Read More

Wikipedia Was Prophetic, Sort Of, If You Roll Back the Tape on Ryan VP Pick

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, August 13 2012

We now know that Mitt Romney offered Paul Ryan the VP slot on Sunday August 5th. Which means that as of Monday August 6th, when I noted the recent Wikipedia edits might offer a clue to Romney's intentions, my suggestion that Ryan was the one to bet on was, ahem, prescient. Or just lucky. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

wednesday >

In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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