This blog post is a summary of a $175,000 grant from Omidyar Network to Personal Democracy Media to support WeGov, a combination news-blog and online resource center that will serve as a hub of current reporting, analysis and background materials on the groups working all over the world on government transparency, anti-corruption, open data, and civic hacking. This information is also available in IATI-compliant XML.

Amount of grant: USD $175,000

Date that grant agreement was signed: April 4, 2012

Implementing organizations:

Co-funders of project:

  • None

Description:

Personal Democracy Media will launch WeGov, a combination news-blog and online resource center that will serve as a hub of current reporting, analysis and background materials on the groups working all over the world on government transparency, anti-corruption, open data, and civic hacking. Specific objectives of the platform include:

  • approximately 60 to 75 new and well-reported articles profiling specific projects around the world. These will be written by the site’s editor along with a team of regional stringers working under his supervision and that of an assistant editor.
  • a daily collection of short news briefs.
  • a simple taxonomy for categorizing all reports and news briefs in order to display them on topic pages that make it easier for users to discover related content across specific interest.
  • identify, catalog and make available resource and learning modules that can be utilized by both early stage and mature organizations.
  • create an email digest that will support the gradual formation of an international community of practice and critique.

Context:

From the website:

All over the world, groups and individuals are using technology in a variety of innovative ways to increase government transparency, fight corruption, open data, and hack on civic problems. Think of sites like Ushahidi (Kenya), I Paid a Bribe (India) and Ciudad Intelligente (Chile). Everything from government policy-making to investigative reporting to local social services and civic life are being upended and reconfigured. Currently, the information available about this emerging movement is scattered across several sites and sometimes hard to find. Often, the reporting available is incomplete or out-of-date. As a result, many individuals and groups often end up having to reinvent the wheel, either repeating mistakes or developing redundant technologies to support their projects or initiatives. Furthermore, they aren’t able to benefit from the experience, advice, support, and technologies of peers working on similar projects.

Over the next year, techPresident’s expanded WeGov section will endeavor to cover this emerging arena with a mix of in-depth feature reporting, daily news digests, and the development of a growing archive of articles, modules and pointers to other valuable resources.

Impact metrics:

  • Double the number of average page views per feature piece per month from the first three months to the last three months of the year.
  • By the end of the year WeGov will build a community of at least 2,000 subscribers to a weekly digest via email or social media.
  • Before the end of the year, Personal Democracy Media will have obtained a commitment of at least $50K from other funders for WeGov.

Final thoughts:

Admittedly, there are many organizations and events that serve as networking and learning opportunities for the global civic hacking movement, among them: The Global Conference on Transparency Research, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, the Transparency Policy Project, the Technology for Transparency Network, the OGP networking mechanism, the GIFT working groups, OpeningParliament.org, the Africa Technology and Transparency Initiative, IDRC’s Open Data Research, Transparency International, Desarrollando America Latina, Open Knowledge Festival, and Transparency Camp.

Then there are also the communities facilitated by donors like Indigo Trust, Open Society Foundations’ Information Program, the World Bank Institute, Hewlett Foundation, and others.

It seems to me, however, that what the global civic hacking community has been missing is a network of networks that can make links between the projects, discussions, and research questions coming out of each of the above communities. We also need more storytelling of the direct social impact of particular interventions, stories like this one by David Eaves about Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente’s Interest Inspector application.

It is still early days for the project. In the next couple weeks they will be launching a weekly email digest. If you’re interested in civic hacking and open government, hopefully you’ll subscribe.

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