Cameras in the courtroom: Will SCOTUS ever go live online?

In an age where setting up a livestream to the Web and the rest of the networked world is as easy as holding up a smartphone and making a few taps, the United States Supreme Court appears more uniformly opposed to adding cameras in the courtroom than ever.
Continue reading

PollWatchUSA enables anyone with a smartphone to act as a poll monitor

Pollwatch, a mobile application that enabled crowdsourced poll monitoring, has launched a final version at pollwatch.us, just in time for Election Day 2012. The initial iteration of the app was conceived, developed and demonstrated at the hackathon at the 2012 Personal Democracy Forum in New York City. Continue reading

TechCrunch’s “CrunchGov” grades Congress on tech, pilots legislative crowdsourcing platform

In general, connecting more citizens with their legislators and create more resources for Congress to understand where their constituents and tech community stands on proposed legislation is a good thing. Last year’s Congressional hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act … Continue reading

A Twitter chat with @VotingInfo on voting, elections and tech

Today, I hosted a Twitter chat with the Voting Information Project. They partner with states to provide official election data that developers can use to create free, open source tools for voters.

I’ve embedded a storify of our conversation below, along with a video explaining more about what they do. Of special note: VIP is partnering with Mobile Commons to let registered voters know where to vote. Just txt “where” or “donde” to 877-877.

http://storify.com/digiphile/a-chat-with-votinginfo-on-voting-elections-and-tec.js[View the story “A chat with @VotingInfo on voting, elections and tech” on Storify]

Can government innovation rise above partisan politics?

Earlier today, the White House announced the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. Following is the story you might have missed on the Twitter backchannel, followed by a NodeX graph of the tweets around #InnovateGov.

http://storify.com/digiphile/when-innovategov-gets-hot-will-policy-debates-foll.js

[View the story “When #innovategov gets hot, will policy debates follow?” on Storify]

In the network graph below, you’ll see there are 3 discreet groups around the White House, Tim O’Reilly and me, and Michelle Malkin. The lines between the nodes show replies.

Social citizenship: CNN and Facebook to partner on “I’m Voting” app in 2012 election

Two years ago, I wondered whether “social voting” on Foursquare would increase voter participation.

That experiment is about to be writ much larger. In a release today, first reported (as far as I can tell) by Mike Allen in Politico Playbook, CNN and Facebook announced that they will be partnering on a “I’m Voting” Facebook app that will display commitments to vote on timelines, newsfeeds and the “real-time ticker” in Facebook.

“Each campaign cycle brings new technologies that enhance the way that important connections between citizens and their elected representatives are made. Though the mediums have changed, the critical linkages between candidates and voters­ remain,” said Joel Kaplan, Facebook Vice President-U.S. Public Policy, in a prepared statement. “Innovations like Facebook can help transform this informational experience into a social one for the American people.”

“By allowing citizens to connect in an authentic and meaningful way with presidential candidates and discuss critical issues facing the country, we hope more voters than ever will get involved with issues that matter most to them,” said Joe Lockhart, Facebook Vice President Corporate Communications, in a prepared statement. “Facebook is pleased to partner with CNN on this uniquely participatory experience.”

“We fundamentally changed the way people consume live event coverage, setting a record for the most-watched live video event in Internet history, when we teamed up with Facebook for the 2009 Inauguration of President Obama,” said KC Estenson, SVP CNN Digital, in a prepared statement. “By again harnessing the power of the Facebook platform and coupling it with the best of our journalism, we will redefine how people engage in the democratic process and advance the way a news organization covers a national election.”

“This partnership doubles down on CNN’s mission to provide the most engaging coverage of the 2012 election season,” said Sam Feist, CNN Washington bureau chief, in a prepared statement. “CNN’s unparalleled political reporting combined with Facebook’s social connectivity will empower more American voters in this critical election season.”

What will ‘social citizenship’ mean?

There’s also a larger question about the effect of these technologies on society: Will social networks encouraging people to share their voting behavior lead to more engagement throughout the year? After all, people are citizens 365 days a year, not just every two years on election day. Will “social citizenship” play a role in Election 2012?

In 2010, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley said yes. As has often been the case (Dodgeball, anyone?), Crowley may well have been ahead of his time.

“One of the things that we’re finding is that when people send their Foursquare checkins out to Twitter and to Facebook, it can drive behaviors,” said Crowley in 2010. “If I check into a coffee shop all the time, my friends are going to be like, hey, I want to go to that coffee shop. We’re thinking the same thing could happen en masse if you start checking into these polling stations, if you start broadcasting that you voted, it may encourage other friends to go out there and do something.”

The early evidence, at least from healthcare in 2010, was that social sharing can lead to more awareness and promote health. Whether civic health improves, at least as measured in voter participation, is another matter. How you voted used to be a question that each registered citizen could choose to keep to him or herself. In 2012 and the age of social media, that social norm may be shifting.

One clear winner in Election 2012, however, will almost certainly be Facebook, which will be collecting a lot of data about users that participate in this app and associated surveys — and that data will be of great interest to political scientists and future campaigns alike.

“Since both CNN and [Facebook] are commercial entities, and since data collection/tracking practices in these apps are increasingly invasive, I am curious to see how these developments impact the evolution of the currently outdated US privacy regime,” commented Vivian Tero, an IDC analyst focused on governance, risk and compliance.

UPDATE: The Poynter Institute picked up this story and connected it in a tweet with a recent AdWeek interview with CNN digital senior vice president and general manager KC Estenson on “CNN’s digital power play.

Estenson, whose network has been suffering from lower ratings of late, notes that online, CNN is now “regularly getting 60 million unique users,” with an “average 20 million minutes a month across the platforms” and CNN Digital generating 110 million video streams per month.

That kind of traffic could power a lot of Likes.

Full release by Facebook on U.S. Politics over on Facebook.

This post has been updated as more information became available, via Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

What is smart government?

Last month, I traveled to Moldova to speak at a “smart society” summit hosted by the Moldovan national e-government center and the World Bank. I talked about what I’ve been seeing and reporting on around the world and some broad principles for “smart government.” It was one of the first keynote talks I’ve ever given and, from what I gather, it went well: the Moldovan government asked me to give a reprise to their cabinet and prime minister the next day.

I’ve embedded the entirety of the morning session above, including my talk (which is about half an hour long). I was preceded by professor Beth Noveck, the former deputy CTO for open government at The White House. If you watch the entire program, you’ll hear from:

  • Victor Bodiu, General Secretary, Government of the Republic of Moldova, National Coordinator, Governance e-Transformation Agenda
  • Dona Scola, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Information Technology and Communication
  • Andrew Stott, UK Transparency Board, former UK Government Director for Transparency and Digital Engagement
  • Victor Bodiu, General Secretary, Government of the Republic of Moldova
  • Arcadie Barbarosie, Executive Director, Institute of Public Policy, Moldova

Without planning on it, I managed to deliver a one-liner that morning that’s worth rephrasing and reiterating here: Smart government should not just serve citizens with smartphones.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments, for those of you who make it through the whole keynote.

What should be in a “Digital Citizen’s Bill of Rights?”

On Monday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OK) introduced a proposal for a “Digital Bill of Rights” at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City. You can watch a video of their conversation with Personal Democracy Media publisher Andrew Rasiej below:

Congressman Issa has posted the proposed Digital Bill of Rights on MADISON, the online legislation platform his staff built last December. The 10 proposed rights are the following:

The Digital Bill of Rights
1. Freedom – digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored internet
2. Openness – digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed internet
3. Equality – all digital citizens are created equal on the internet
4. Participation – digital citizens have a right to peaceably participate where and how they choose on the internet
5. Creativity – digital citizens have a right to create, grow and collaborate on the internet, and be held accountable for what they create
6. Sharing – digital citizens have a right to freely share their ideas, lawful discoveries and opinions on the internet
7. Accessibility – digital citizens have a right to access the internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are
8. Association – digital citizens have a right to freely associate on the internet
9. Privacy – digital citizens have a right to privacy on the internet
10. Property – digital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure in their intellectual property on the internet

Congressman Issa made the following statement about the rights, which could well end up in a bill at some point, as with other proposals on the MADISON platform:

I believe that individuals possess certain fundamental rights. Government should exist to protect those rights against those who would violate them. That is the revolutionary principle at the heart of the American Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. No one should trample our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s why the Bill of Rights is an American citizen’s first line of defense against all forms of tyranny.

But where can a digital citizen turn for protection against the powerful? This question lay at the heart of the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA and keep the web open. While I do not have all the answers, the remarkable cooperation we witnessed in defense of an open Internet showed me three things. First, government is flying blind, interfering and regulating without understanding even the basics. Second, we have a rare opportunity to give government marching orders on how to treat the Internet, those who use it and the innovation it supports. And third, we must get to work immediately because our opponents are not giving up.

We need to frame a digital Bill of Rights. This is my first draft. I need your help to get this right, so I published it here in Madison for everyone to comment, criticize and collaborate. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work together to keep the web open.

-Congressman Darrell Issa

As of June 14th, the proposed rights have received 101 suggested edits and 35 community comments. Elsewhere on the Internet, they’ve generated considerably more attention. The proposed Digital Bill of Rights has received widespread news coverage, from the The Guardian to BoingBoing to Ars Technica to The Verge to CNET to The Hill.

A little online history

The idea of an online bill of rights isn’t a new one. Recently, as Evan Rodgers pointed out at the Verge, the Reddit community has been drafting its own digital bill of rights. Earlier this spring, the White House releases a consumer privacy bill of rights earlier this spring, albeit one focused on privacy.

The history of this idea goes back further, however, going back to John Perry Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace to a 2007 proposal for a Internet bill of rights that came out of a meeting of the Internet Governance Forum to the iterations of a bill of rights in cyberspace that Jeff Jarvis went through in 2010. The idea of “Internet rights as the new frontier has, in other words, been around for a while.

And, for all of the interest around this week’s version, the proposal from Rep. Issa and Senator Wyden itself is relatively non-specific and does not officially recognize the iterations that have come before it. The Internet Bill of Rights that came out of Rio a few years ago, for instance, layered on a few additional (important) points:

“Privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, universal accessibility, network neutrability, interoperability, use of format and open standards, free access to information and knowledge, right to innovation and a fair and competitive market and consumers safeguard.”

There’s also a more fundamental question of how such rights would be enforced, by whom and in what context. In the United States, after all, there’s already a Bill of Rights, and one that’s held up rather well for over two centuries. Focusing on how and where the rights that citizens (digital or otherwise) already enjoy apply online would be a constructive and useful role for lawmakers to consider, particularly given the unprecedented capacity of both governments and private actors to search, surveil and censor humanity on the Internet.

All that being said, it’s significant that this pair of Congressmen introduced them and notable that the they’re taking comments from the online community using the Internet itself.

On Friday, I expect to have the opportunity to ask Rep. Issa about his thinking about a digital bill of rights, amongst other issues related to technology, data and open government. If you have questions or concerns about the proposals above that you’d like posed to the Congressman, please let me know at alex@oreilly.com.

UPDATE: Embedded below are the reactions on Twitter to the question posed in the headline of this post:

http://storify.com/digiphile/what-should-be-in-a-digital-citizen-s-bill-of-righ.js[View the story “What should be in a digital citizen’s bill of rights?” on Storify]

What does open government mean to you? [VIDEOS]

58 ministers, officials, members of civil society and the media explained what “open government” means to them at last week’s Open Government Partnership conference in Brazil. You can watch them all in the video player below. (Each clip is under 30 seconds.)

2012 Gov 2.0, Open Government and Open Data Events Calendar

Since I heard that last year’s Gov 2.0 and Open Government Events Calendar was useful to the broader community, here’s this year’s version. There will be many other places around the globe for people to gather, talk and learn about Gov 2.0 in 2012 — just take a look through the many Govloop event listings. There will be any number of citizen-generated unconferences and hackathons, where the attendees generate the program. They’ll include CityCamps, BarCamps, PodCamps or MobileCamps. Check out the CityCamp calendar to find one near you and keep an eye out for CityCamp meetups in February.

The following listings are by no means comprehensive but should serve as a starting point if you’re wondering what’s happening, when and where. If you know about more Gov 2.0 events that should be listed here, please let me know at alex@oreilly.com or @digiphile.

Special note of thanks to the Intellitics 2012 conference radar and Gov 2.0 Radio calendar feed, which are both excellent resources.

Annual Open Government Partnership Meeting

April 17-18
Brasilia, Brazil
Website: http://www.opengovpartnership.org

Gov 2.0 LA

April 21
Los Angeles, CA
Website: http://www.gov20la.com

International Conference on e-Democracy, e-Government and e-Society

April 25–27, 2012
Venice, Italy
Website: http://www.waset.org/conferences/2012/italy/icdgs/

Transparency Camp 2012

April 28–29, 2012
Greater Washington DC area
Website: http://transparencycamp.org

4th ICTs and Society-Conference 2012

May 2–4, 2012
Uppsala, Sweden
Website: http://www.icts-and-society.net/events/uppsala2012/

International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2012 (CeDEM ’12)

May 3–4, 2012
Krems (Austria)

Open Gov West 2012 (OGW2012)

May 2012
Location TBD
Website: http://www.opengovwest.org

Digital Governance in Latin America, LASA 2012 XXX International Congress

May 23–26, 2012
San Francisco, CA
Details: http://www.certop.fr/DEL/spip.php?article2465

e-participation: International conference on youth participation in the digital society

June 4–5
2012 Berlin (Germany)
Registration: http://www.amiando.com/eParticipationYouth.html

2012 Digital Government Society Conference (dg.o 2012)

June 4–7
University of Maryland
College Park, MD

2012 American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment Annual Meeting

June 7–9
San Antonio, TX
Website: http://aascu.org/Meetings/adp12/

University Network for Collaborative Governance 2012 Annual Meeting

June 10–12
Syracuse, NY
Website: http://www.policyconsensus.org/events/uncg_2012.html


Personal Democracy Forum

June 11–12
New York, NY
Website: http://personaldemocracy.com

12th European Conference on eGovernment (ECEG 2012)

June 14–15
Barcelona (Spain)

25th Bled eConference

June 17–20, 2012
Bled (Slovenia)
Website: http://www.bledconference.org


International Open Government Data Conference

July 10-12
World Bank, DC
Website: http://www.data.gov/communities/conference

The Democracy Imperative (TDI) National Conference

July 18–21, 2012
Boston, MA
Website: http://unh.edu/democracy/

Frontiers of Democracy

July 19–21
Boston, MA
Website: http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/?pid=1096

IADIS International Conference: e-Democracy, Equity and Social Justice

July 21–23
Lisbon, Portugal
Website: http://www.edemocracy-conf.org

International Conference on Electronic Democracy

September 3–7
Vienna, Austria
Website: http://www.dexa.org/egovis2012

League of California Cities Annual Conference & Expo

September 5–7
San Diego, CA
Website: http://www.cacities.org/AC

Web of Change (WOC)

September 5–9
Cortes Island, BC, Canada
Website: http://webofchange.com/web-of-change-hollyhock

2012 NAGW National Conference

September 12–14
Kansas City, MO
Website: http://nagw.org/national-conference

67th Annual National Conference on Citizenship

September 14
Philadelphia, PA
Website: http://ncoc.net/conference

Fedtalks

October 11
Washington, DC
Website: http://fedscoop.com/events/fedtalks2012/

6th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance

October 22-25
Albany, New York, U.S.
Website: http://www.icegov.org/

Gov 2.0 AU

October 23-24
Website: http://www.gov2.com.au/

Involve 2012

November 13-14
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Website: http://www.profbriefings.co.uk/involve2012/

Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy

November 14–16, 2012 (tentative)
Montevideo, Uruguay
Website: http://www.2012globalforum.com