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Tag Archive: TechPresident

Making Open Government Data Sustainable

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Earlier this week, David Eaves kicked off a fascinating conversation with a post on TechPresident. Titled "Optimism, Fear and the Knight News Challenge," it raises important questions about how open government work is supported and sustained. In particular, David focused on Democracy Map, one of two KNC finalist projects from friend-of-Sunlight Phil Ashlock. Democracy Map aims to improve U.S. citizens' ability to determine who represents them at all levels of government. David argues that a subsidy from Knight to DM could threaten the business of companies like Cicero that are trying to solve the problem through a commercial offering. Once the Knight money dries up, will Democracy Map still be around? Or will it only last long enough to kill off Cicero?

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Technology and Hurricane Sandy Recovery

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Last month’s “superstorm” Sandy caused devastation throughout much of the mid-Atlantic, with many residents still recovering from the powerful and destructive storm. One person affected by Sandy was Sunlight’s technology adviser Micah Sifry, who lives in New York. On the website TechPresident, he wrote about how New York public radio station WNYC initiated a crowdsourcing project to keep listeners informed in the hours, days and now weeks since the storm hit the city. Here at Sunlight, we decided to take a look at the innovations created by technologists and ordinary citizens to help residents affected by the storm. In Boston, CrisisCommons organized the Sandy CrisisCamp — a series of hackathons at MIT and around the world that brought together volunteers who could contribute to Sandy relief with communication technologies. You can read more about what the technologists did and the lessons learned at the remote hackathons here.

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Open Govt Data Geeks Unite, and the Rise of 3-D Journalism

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Micah Sifry (Sunlight senior strategic consultant) writes:

I've just finished spending two days at a mini-retreat on open government data organized by Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org, hosted by Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media and funded by the Sunlight Foundation, Google and Yahoo!. The purpose of the meeting was to gather a bunch of folks from both the public and private sectors who are working on everything from pro-democracy websites to hyper-local news startups to see if we could draft some common principles for data and open government, and also to deepen connections and collaboration among a powerfully creative group of individuals and projects. (Full disclosure: I was there in my consulting role as a senior technology adviser to Sunlight, but this was another of those fortuitous events where I get to where all my hats as PdF editor, open government activist, and Sunlight consultant at once.)

In attendance were Adrian Holovaty and Daniel O'Neil of the soon-to-be-unveiled EveryBlock; Michal Mugurski and Eric Rodenbeck of Stamen Design, which does amazing work with data visualization; Josh Tauberer of GovTrack.us, which makes Thomas useful and amazes the rest of us with his efficiency; Lawrence Lessig of Stanford, who's focusing his prodigious energies on the problem of corruption; Dan Newman of MAPLight.org, which is doing path-breaking work connecting money, legislators, votes and power; John Geraci of outside.in, which is localizing the blogosphere down the neighborhood level; Ed Bender of the Institute for Money in State Politics, which has state-of-the-art APIs for mashing up state-level campaign finance data; Tom Steinberg of mySociety.org, probably the world's leader in pro-democracy web services (see TheyWorkForYou.com); David Moore and Donny Shaw of OpenCongress, which brings social wisdom to unveil what's really going inside Congress now; JL Needham of Google, you've probably heard of them; Ethan Zuckerman of the Berkman Center, who has more accomplishments in the geek-to-social-good sector than anyone I know (and he's only 34!!); Greg Palmer, whose stepping down as Congressman Henry Waxman's tech director soon to venture into some exciting projects in the private sector; Jamie Taylor of Metaweb, which is building a powerful platform called Freebase for public information sharing; Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo!, you've probably heard of them too; Zack Exley of the New Organizing Institute, whose one of my favorite progressive agitators; Michael Dale of Metavid, which is bringing transparency and interactivity to Congressional video; Joseph Lorenzo Hall of UC Berkeley, one of the world's experts on e-voting; Marcia Hoffman, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which I am a proud member of; David Orban of Metasocial Web, who is exploring the frontier of networked politics; Will Fitzpatrick of Omidyar Network, which is moving toward embracing transparency as a top priority; Aaron Swartz of Open Library, which is working on creating a wiki page for every book in the world; and myself and Greg Elin of the Sunlight Labs.

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10 Questions for the President

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TechPresident is continuing its mission to create new innovative ways to communicate and interact with presidential candidates by launching 10 Questions. Here’s how it works: you submit a question via YouTube or other video services and tag it 10questions. Then, your video will be loaded to the 10 Questions site where it will be voted on by others in the online community. The top 10 questions will be submitted to the candidates, who will then answer the questions on their campaign sites. Citizens can then vote on whether the candidates actually answered the questions. This experiment in people-powered online democracy allows regular citizens to submit questions and, more importantly, to determine which questions the candidates should answer instead of a debate moderator.

Below is our question. Don’t forget to submit one and don’t forget to vote.

Disclaimer: Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej are consultants for the Sunlight Foundation.

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TechPresident Wins Knight-Batten Award

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Congratulations to our good friends over at techPresident for winning the 2007 Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism Grand Prize. The University of Maryland-affiliated J-Lab organized the award. Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry, Sunlight's technology advisors, founded techPresident to focus on how the campaigns are using the web, and how the web is using them. They are encouraging ordinary citizens to be their own Woodsteins, covering the candidates using all the new tools of the new web. The site covers campaign websites, online advertising, and postings on YouTube and has a must-read group blog and daily digest. Their tracking of which candidate has the fastest growing group of friends on MySpace and Facebook supporters has become a political bellweather.

Andrew and Micah have collected a couple dozen veterans of the 2004 and 2006 elections, both Republicans and Democrats, to blog on the site. This powerhouse stable includes the likes of Patrick Ruffini, former eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee and webmaster for Bush-Cheney '04; Zack Exley , director of online organizing and communications for Kerry/Edwards '04; Morra Aarons, former director of Internet marketing for the DNC, and Chuck DeFeo, general manager of Townhall.com.

Micah and Andrew and the rest of the (very small) techPresident team are the innovators of the ongoing mashup of politics and Web 2.0. As the campaign heats up, techPresident will increasingly be an essential resource for journalists and average citizens alike. Congratulations guys!

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