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First POST: Turbulence

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 13 2015

Why David Cameron's call to ban encrypted communications in the UK is stupid and unworkable; what "democracy in the digital age" might look like; the open data movement's turbulent teenage years in the US; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Omens

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, December 5 2014

Turmoil at Chris Hughes' New Republic; why police cameras could help improve police behavior; why people put hashtags on signs at physical protests; and much, much more Read More

First POST: Sentimental

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 10 2014

Why 2016 is going to be "the Facebook election"; why Berlin has become the global hub for anti-surveillance culture; how some American cities are fighting to expand their public broadband services; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Hashtag Activism Has Profound Psychological Effects On Movement Creators & Participants

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 5 2014

Screenshot of a #NotYourTigerLily tweet

It has become quite trendy these days to downplay or mock hashtag activism, or what many dismiss as “slacktivism.” The takeaway from the Thursday morning session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword” at Personal Democracy Forum, however, was that even seemingly small actions play an important role in movement building, especially on the psychological level.

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#PDF14 Speaker Preview: An Interview With An Xiao Mina

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 27 2014

Starting today, we're going to be running short interviews of many of the great speakers coming to Personal Democracy Forum 2014, conducted by our terrific new conference coordinator Sonia Roubini. First up, An Xiao Mina, who first appeared at PDF 2012 and who will be giving a main hall talk. She is also helping us curate a breakout panel focused on how organizers make the move from political memes to movements. Read More

How Autocorrect is Creating New Chinese Slang

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 16 2012

Public Radio International's The World has a fascinating look at how it looks like the autocomplete functionality on mobile phones is changing the way some Chinese people are using their language. PRI reports that as users of phones with English-language keyboards begin typing Chinese in pinyin, the system for transliterating between Chinese characters and the English alphabet, they are presented with the vast array of homophones each word may have. So each time someone starts typing a text message, they're assisted in wordplay by the autocomplete or autocorrect functionality of their phones. In Chinese, many words sound very similar to words that mean nowhere near the same thing. This is helping people to develop new slang and is giving people the opportunity to resurrect old words, PRI reports. Read More

Backstage at #PDF12: An Xiao Mina on Politics and the Chinese Language

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 13 2012

By now you may have seen artist and designer An Xiao Mina's Personal Democracy Forum 2012 talk, "Internet Street Art and Social Change in China," in which she talks about how street art, Internet memes and political satire collide online in China.

In her talk, she touched on how the Chinese language's abundance of homonyms and visual metaphor is fuel for political commentary that can find its way around censorship and surveillance.

Backstage at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, I asked her to go into more detail about how much Internet culture in China owes to a long history of cultural criticism. Our short conversation is after the jump.

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