Open Questions

What's next for the CfA Brigade; find out what Facebook knows about you; and more.


  • Tech and the presidentials: Although ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular debate questions suggested on PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, they aren’t promising to ask them no matter what, Russell Berman reports for The Atlantic.

  • Writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Marcia Stepanek covers the highlights of Christine Cupaiuolo’s new report, Rethinking Debates: A Report on Increasing Engagement. “Many people using these social media tools are saying, ‘Hey, what about us? Don’t we get to play a role? Don’t we at least get to help filter some of the questions?” Stepanek writes, quoting Civic Hall’s Micah Sifry.

    “We really need to consider more seriously how to involve people in our national debates, in a way that respects their intelligence and takes more seriously their concerns,” Cupaiuolo told Stepanek. “Debates aren’t perfect ways to involve people, but they can be very valuable.”

  • This is civic tech: The Code for America Brigade is electing its first national advisory council right now, I report for Civicist. There’s a lot riding on the election, because some Brigade captains believe that the first council will in many ways determine the future direction of the Brigade. Anyone from the civic tech community, broadly speaking, is invited to vote before the poll closes on September 30.

  • Yesterday, the online advocacy group 18 Million Rising launched VoterVOX, an app that facilitates translation and ballot assistance for immigrants in their native language, reports Yessenia Funes for Colorlines.

  • Writing for Government Technology magazine, Colin Wood reflects on “what Obama did for tech.” Wood quotes Jennifer Pahlka on the culture change in the federal government: “Ten years from now, I think the biggest impact … will be on leadership in government and how they think, more than anything else…One thing that could have absolutely gone differently was the way in which he called on people from the outside to rescue HealthCare.gov. The fact that he so much stood behind that and was willing to back these outsiders, that I think was a turning point, and the fact that he learned the right lesson from it and decided to institutionalize it.”

  • I guess this is civic tech: Yesterday this article by Andrea Fox at EfficientGov on the “civic tech” that helped capture the Chelsea bomber was included in my daily Google alert email on keyword “civic tech,” although surveillance cameras, facial recognition technology, and emergency alert systems aren’t *super* high on my list when I think “civic tech.”

  • Self care: Find out what Facebook knows about you with this new browser extension from ProPublica.

  • Join us! Civic Hall Labs is looking for 10 volunteer project managers and 25 digital professionals to help launch a pro bono tech initiative called Delta.NYC. Learn more about the opportunity and how to apply here—the deadline is October 3.

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