End Games

Paint with Donald Trump; why we open data; NH library may or may not support Tor; and more.


  • We remember: If you read one thing about the anniversary of 9/11 today, may I humbly suggest Jeff Jarvis’ recounting on Twitter (helpfully Storified by Mary Bjorneby) of what it was like for him to survive that day.

  • This is civic tech: Civic Tech USC, a project of the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Society, has released a findings reports on “Empowering the Public Through Open Data” focused on Los Angeles County’s 88 cities. Among their findings:

    • Since 2013, 18 cities within the county have launched some form of open data initiative.

    • Lack of funding remains a “major barrier” to many cities’ involvement in launching open data portals, along with a need for more expertise and buy-in from city departments.

    • “There should be mechanisms for regularly tracking and publicizing stories of how open data is creating value, which can both increase public engagement with city data and help to make a case for meaningful ROI.”

  • Related: Mark Headd responds to Technical.ly Philly’s report on the liberation of the city’s property database, arguing that the end goal of open data programs should be more than just producing more open data. He writes: “The end game on open data has always been about something larger than simply filling up an open data catalog—open data is a pathway to creating a new way of operating in government.”

  • The Center for Technology, Society & Policy at Stanford is launching a new blog called Citizen Technologist, and in its inaugural post, the center’s co-directors Nick Doty and Galen Panger offer several definitions of what a citizen technologist might be, including:

    …a software engineer who considers ethical principles in building her new app; a designer who volunteers his services to improve the user experience of a local non-profit or government agency website; a legislator who works closely with the technical community to design laws and regulations affecting the Internet; a researcher who studies the effects of new communication technologies on employment, inequality or happiness; a citizen who participates in technical projects to map their neighborhood or advocate for their community.

  • Matt Mahan, co-founder and CEO of Brigade, talks to TechCrunch’s Andrew Keen about his startup’s ongoing efforts to give the public a more meaningful way to engage on the issues they care about. About halfway into the video, Mahan admits Brigade has no sure idea how it will make money, but suggests native advertising or selling information to political recruiters.

  • Inside Philanthropy’s Kiersten Marek reports on how Ruth Ann Harnisch (a Civic Hall member) and her foundation are tackling gender equality. She notes that Harnisch is “a big believer in the power of social media and technology to bring together women into powerful giving networks.”

  • In Slate, Civic Hall member Dan Gillmor makes the case for Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, as the next Librarian of Congress.

  • Faced with pressure from the Department of Homeland Security and local police, a public library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, has decided to at least temporarily stop supporting the Tor anonymous web surfing service, Julia Angwin reports for ProPublica. The library’s board of trustees will vote next Tuesday on whether to turn it back on. The Library Freedom Project, working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and local ACLU chapters, has released a letter of support urging the library to do so.

  • A growing coalition of international human rights and open government groups are joining Access Now’s call on Twitter to reverse its decision to close down Politwoops and similar uses of the company’s API to track the tweets of politicians.

  • Tech and the presidentials: Showing that his communications team are indeed the rulers of all social media, President Obama answered questions about the Iran deal on Quora yesterday.

  • Arun Chaudhary, Bernie Sanders digital creative director (and former Obama videographer), shares a gallery of photos documenting the first 100 days of the Sanders campaign on Medium.

  • Some dude named Sifry tries to explain the confounding rise of Trump and Sanders inside the Republican and Democratic parties as the bubbling up of the “shadow parties” inside each, and ponders whether instead of a two-party system we could have a four- or five-party system, including the folks in the civic arena who work on the stuff that matters as the “Getting-it-done” Party.

  • Work futures: The city of San Francisco is looking to hire an open data services engineer.

  • Congrats to longtime PDM friend Jacob Soboroff, the founder of “Why Tuesday?“, who has been hired by MSNBC as a correspondent. (Do you know why we vote on Tuesdays?)

  • Got a job you are looking to fill at the intersection of tech and politics/government/civic life? Email me at micah-at-civichall-dot-org with a link.

  • For your weekend amusement: PaintWithDonaldTrump.com.