December 31, 2011

Books That Are Never Done Being Written

}} Tag It: Changing Us

DIGITAL TEXT is ushering in an era of perpetual revision and updating, for better or worse.

Once digitized, a page of words loses its fixity. It can change every time it's refreshed on a screen. A book page turns into something like a Web page, able to be revised endlessly after its initial uploading. There's no technological constraint on perpetual editing and the cost of altering digital text is basically zero.

That's attractive in many ways. It makes it easy for writers to correct errors and update facts. Guidebooks will no longer send travelers to restaurants that have closed. The instructions to manuals will always be accurate.

Even literary authors will be tempted to keep their works fresh. Historians will be able to revise their narratives to account for new information. Novelists will be able to scrub away the little anachronisms that can make even a recently published story feel dated.

But as often the case with digitization, the boon carries a bane. The ability to alter the contents of a book will be easy to abuse. School boards may come to exert even greater influence over what students read. They'll be able to edit textbooks that don't fit with local biases. Governments will be able to tweak books to suit their political interests.

>Read more about books that are never done being written here

This Might Be Your Most Important New Year's Resoultion

}} Tag It: Changing Us

WE ALL make New Year resolutions like get in shape, live within a budget and learn something new.

But one of the things that everyone says they should do, but few of us actually do is "back up our data."

Things just got easier with a program called 'CrashPlan' - this program allows you to set up an online backup account on any computer. It's fully automated and allows you to have real-time backup, backup attached drives, web restore, version retention, no file size limits and secure online storage.

There are different plans available:

-10GB @ $1.50 per month

-Unlimited @ $3 per month

-Family @ $6 per month

>Check out CrashPlan here

Can Technology Bring Couples Closer Together?

}} Tag It: Changing Us

SINGLE PEOPLE use sites like to find that special someone. But what about if you've already found your true love - there hasn't been a social network site or app for couples. But three emerging startups aim to change that.


Between - Your Love Story 2 from VCNC on Vimeo.

Between is a mobile service that provides a secret place for lovers to communicate and keep their precious moments. It's "your love story" documented. With this app, you can build a 1:1 archive that includes chat history, photo albums and customized message board with your partner.


Tokii might be the world's first relationship management platform. It allows you to trade favors, learn about each other and play games together. It's designed for the busy couple and looks like an interesting way to make sure you are always communicating with your significant other. We like the "make a trade" module.


Introducing Duet from Crush + Lovely on Vimeo.

Duet hopes to bring the romance back to one-on-one communication, serving as a starting point for doing things with the people you love. The most special aspect of Duet is that as you add Duets, you compile a list of dreams, goals and/or desires as a couple.

Sex Education Gets Directly to Youths, via Text

}} Tag It: Changing Education

SEX EDUCATION is a thorny subject for most school systems; only 13 states specify that the medical components of the programs must be accurate. Shrinking budgets and competing academic subjects have helped push it down as a curriculum priority. In reaction, some health organizations and school districts are developing Web sites and texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents in the one classroom where absenteeism is never a problem: the Internet.

In Chicago, teenagers can subscribe to Sex-Ed Loop, a program endorsed by the district that includes weekly automated texts about contraception, relationships and disease prevention. Through Hookup, California teenagers can text their Zip codes to a number and receive locations for health clinics.

Many services, like, a national site run by and for teenagers, offer both privacy and communities where adolescents can learn about sexuality and relationships, particularly on mobile devices, eluding parental scrutiny. Services offer links to blogs, interactive games, moderated forums and Facebook and Twitter Pages.

>Several other resources exists for kids to learn about sex. Read the article here

December 30, 2011

'Occupy' Float Will Follow Rose Parade

TRAILING THE Rose Parade's 43rd float down Colorado Boulevard will be the Occupy movement's unofficial 250 by 50 foot float.

Occupy Rose Parade organizers say 5,000 to 10,000 demonstrators will descend on the historic parade January 2. They will march down the parade route at its conclusion.

2011 Gov 2.0 Year in Review

THE BEST Gov 2.0 writer on the planet, Alex Howard, takes a look at the themes, moments and achievements that made an impact in 2011. The article contains sections on the following and is a must read for anyone interested in how technology is changing civic life, politics, government and neighborhoods.

To entice you, here are the sections of the article.

  • Three dominant tech policy issues
  • A meme goes mainstream
  • Gov 2.0 goes local
  • Rise of the civic startups
  • Emerging civic media
  • Open source government
  • Open government goes global
  • Federal open government initiatives
  • Opening the People's House
  • Open data
  • Open mapping
  • Social media use grows in government
  • Intellectual property and Internet freedom
  • The year ahead

Collaborative Film 99% Documents Occupy Protests

WE'VE ALL watched a documentary film or two. Most of them involve a great deal of planning, raising money and actual filming. Then comes the herculean process of editing all the material. The creators of an "in progress" Occupy Wall Street documentary are going about things a little differently.

Since the protest movement was happening all around them, they plan to take the footage from 75 filmmakers who captured imagery at various Occupy events across the country and edit the material and create a documentary film.

The producers are looking to raise $17,500 to finish the project.

They say that amount is needed "to buy hard-drive storage and editing space."

To drum up additional money, the filmmakers will hold an online screening. For $3.99, viewers can buy a ticket to watch early footage. The January 7 screening will be hosted by the producers, Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, as well as Williams Cole, and will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

The Kickstarter campaign for 99% ends January 13.

Check out the trailer for the documentary and head over to the 99% website to learn more - and be sure to visit Kickstarter to contribute. As of today, the producers have 168 backers who have pledged $8,347.

Audio Bulb Wireless Music System

I KNOW a great idea when I see one. Well, most of the time.

You decide on this one.

Audio Bulbs represents one of the best ideas of 2011 - they're a combination of speaker/light bulb. You screw them into any lamp or ceiling fixture and suddenly you have yourself a wireless sound system in your home or office. There's a transmitter for your sound source and for controlling the dimming level of these LED bulbs.

I was originally thinking of getting several of these bulbs for the family room but at $300 each I had to rethink my strategy.

>Learn more here

Federal Government Tracking Student Information

SHOULD THE federal government track information on students and keep it in a centralized database without permission?

That's exactly what's happening.

The Department of Education recently took steps to collect information on students and store that information in a centralized database. The data they want includes how much a student weighs, how many days of school missed, age, what extra curricula activities a student participates in and more.

Under the plan, the consent of parents is not needed. And while parents have expressed concerns, the Department says that creating a permanent student record is a good thing.

They claim this effort, "Will facilitate States' ability to evaluate education programs, to ensure limited resources are invested effectively, to build upon what works and discard what does not work, to increase accountability and transparency, and to contribute to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement in education."

Social Media and Legislative Data Help Create Crowd Sourced Markup Process

AT A recent "first congressional hackathon," Facebook developers Roddy Lindsay, Tyler Brock, Eric Chaves, Porter Bayne and Blaise DiPersia coded up a simple proof of concept of what making legislative data more social might look like. "LikeOcracy" pulls legislation from a House XML feed and makes it more possible for citizens to read pending legislation and get involved with the "markup" process of a bill.

Another app presented at the hackathon came not from the attendees but from the efforts of InSourceCode, a software development firm that's also coded for Congressman Mike Pence and the Republican National Committee.

Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced the beta version of Project Madison, a new online tool to crowd source legislative markup. The vision is that Madison will work as a real-time markup engine to let the public comment on bills as they move through the legislative process.

>Read more on making the congress more social here

December 29, 2011

Start 2012 With the Right "To Do List"

AS IT comes closer to the new year, I find myself wanting to get more organized. And as the Wall Street Journal said, "The first item on a highly successful to-do list: Make a better to do list."

That's exactly why I'm searching for a better to-do list. "I want to be more successful, have less stress, stay focused and get more done."

I currently use great to-do tools like "Things," "Google Tasks" and Apple's "Reminders." Maybe that's the problem.

In my OCD'ness, I have become compulsive about organizing tools.

How could this happen?

My guess is that's it's because no application is perfect - not even the old school pen and paper method. Each system leaves something to be desired.

Just this morning, I was late for a business meeting despite my to-do list software. Fortunately a colleague texted me so I was only 10 minutes behind schedule but nonetheless, it was embarrassing walking in late.

See that's just it - there are NO guarantees even if you use the tools.

The market is loaded with to-do list choices. The hard part is selecting just the right one for your purposes and sticking with it. (Don't go with several like I have done. It just doesn't work).

Here are four great to-do list mangers to help you start the new year off on the right foot:

Remember the Milk

Life Balance


Google Tasks

Paper - you know the drill

Study Predicts Growing Use of Social Media in Healthcare

MEN ARE more likely than women to turn to Facebook and other social networks for healthcare purposes, according to a recent survey.

Not surprisingly, the survey of 1.000 adults found that younger people were more likely to use social media than older people for healthcare purposes. Overall, nearly a third of respondents, and 50 percent of those under the age 35, had used social media for healthcare purposes, which can range from registering a complaint to looking up information videos on YouTube.

>Read more here

Warning: Posting These Words on Facebook and Twitter Might Land You in Trouble With the Government

SOME OF  you will say, "I told you so."

New reports claim that the US government and the Department of Homeland Security, more specifically, are spying on Twitter and Facebook users who use "sensitive words."

The DHS has apparently created a watch list of words that are considered "sensitive," and simply using a single one could put you on the government's radar, according to the unofficial Twitter Resource, 'All Twitter.'

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an online privacy advocacy group, is suing the DHS for the data that the Department has collected on Twitter and Facebook users. Their complaint claims that the DHS will begin monitoring social media sites in February in an effort to "store and analyze the information gathered, and then to disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local and foreign governments and private sector partners."

And the ways in which the DHS is said to be spying on Twitter users are pretty nefarious.

For instance, the suit claims they are setting up fake profiles - like the ones that you normally brush off as spambots - to monitor individuals accounts.

Plus, they've created a database of keywords and phrases that stand out as sensitive, such as:
  • collapse
  • illegal immigrant
  • outbreak
  • human to animal
  • infection
  • trojan
  • drill
  • strain
  • virus

When the DHS finds an account using these words, they ostensibly record it and any personal information associated with it. But as with most things classified, the details are not exactly known.

December 28, 2011

California to Explore Online Sales of Lottery Tickets

OFFICIALS AT the California State Lottery said they will explore selling tickets over the Internet after the Justice Department determined that such sales would not violate law.

"It does open up a major potential channel for lottery sales in California, but right now it's just a potential channel," Robert O'Neill, who was named last week to head the state lottery, said Tuesday.

State lottery officials will review the Justice Department's legal opinion, which allows states to sell lottery tickets over the Internet and possibly to offer poker and other types of online gambling. The opinion clarified that a 50-year old law, known as the Federal Wire Act, applies only to sports betting, not to other online gambling that states may permit.

>Read more of the potential sale of lottery tickets online here

December 27, 2011

Open Government: A New Window on the World

ONE IRONY of the digital revolution is that it has made the once relatively simple concept of government transparency significantly more opaque. In the old days of paper, transparency generally meant two things: meetings and documents. The game was about what public officials would show you and what they wouldn't and how long it would take to find out.

As the Web enabled new sorts of communication between the government and its governed, the blanket term "transparency" expanded to include a host of programs that make democracy more participatory through blogs, wikis and social media conversations. The scope, possibilities and trapdoors of transparency write large are on display through the Open Government Partnership, a new association of more than 40 nations committed to open government practices.

>Read more about the open gov partnership here and check the Partnership's website here

Will California Get Free Digital College Textbooks?

CALIFORNIA SENATE President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wants to create a digital library of free course materials for California college students.

The proposal, unveiled earlier this month, is bound to be popular with students grappling with rising tuition and fees at California's public colleges and universities.

But the plan faces multiple obstacles. Some professors worry the e-books won't meet their standards, the publishing industry wants to ward off a competitive threat, and the proposal would come at no small cost to the state's chronically burdened budget.

The Sacramento Democrat plans to introduce legislation next year to tap $25 million in state funds to solicit open-source course materials for 50 lower-division courses at University of California, California State University and community college campuses.

>Read more on the digital textbooks proposal here

Putin Rejects Poll Review

RUSSIAN PRIME Minister Vladimir Putin has dismissed calls for a review of disputed parliamentary election results and has accused protesters of lacking clear aims.

Putin's comments follow the latest mass protests on Saturday over the December 4 poll, which his opponents say was rigged.

"The elections are over. The parliament has started its work and a speaker has been elected."

"There can be no talk of any review."

>Read more here

How Mobile Payments Will Evolve in the Next Several Years

MOBILE PAYMENT has become a mainstream tech topic in the last couple of years, mirroring the rise of smartphones and application stores. E-commerce is becoming m-commerce. The focus point of the buzz has been the evolution of near-field communications as related to smartphones. The thing is, nobody in the payments industry expects NFC to be a player in mobile payments for years, if ever. In that case, what does the mobile payments ecosystem look like in the short term?

>Read more about how mobile payments will evolve in the next several years here

December 26, 2011

Call for Papers on Broadband Adoption

AS GOVERNMENT services, political discourse and commerce expand online, policymakers and public interest organizations are promoting broadband adoption among people who are not currently using the Internet, or using it marginally. Yet there is little discussion of what adoption means or how it can be measures. For lack of a better indicator, agencies and researchers often use the metric of home subscription numbers, which tell us very little about the different modes or locations of access which may be more relevant for some populations, nor about the effects of adoption on new users and communities.

In light of the challenges, the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation is calling for proposals that address the question: "What is meaningful broadband adoption, and how can we measure it? Authors of successful proposals will be invited for a day-long workshop at the New American Foundation in Washington, DC, to present and discuss answers to the broadband measurement question.

> Interested? Read more here

Personal Democracy Forum

SAVE THE date - June 11-12, 2012. That's the next Personal Democracy Forum scheduled for the NYU Skirball Center.

>Learn more here

December 24, 2011

'Yes We Scan,' A Project to Bring the Library of Congress to the Internet

THE CENTER for American Progress' John Podesta and open-government pioneer Carl Malamud are heading up a new effort called "Yes We Scan." It's a call for the federal government to do a better job of digitizing all of Washington's many cultural treasures, from the Library of Congress to the National Technical Information Service, and making them available online.

In a letter addressed to President Barrack Obama, the site calls on the White House to conduct a comprehensive review of current archiving efforts and come up with a plan on how to proceed from there.

The letter says in part, "Locked in our federal vaults is a tremendous storehouse of information that if digitized would form a core for our digital public libraries in America with huge benefit for our county: cutting costs in the Federal government, creating jobs throughout America, and revolutionizing how we educate our citizens, how we practice law, and how we create news, art, and scholarly works."

A corresponding petition on the White House's e-petitioning platform, We the People has 441 (as of December 24) signatures. If it gets 25,000 signatures before January 20, the White House will be obliged to respond.

>Read the complete letter to the president here

Religiously Active People More Likely to Engage in Civic Life

RELIGIOUS  ACTIVISM is good for civic life in America, according to a new study out from the Pew Research Center Project on the Internet and American Life.

The report finds that some 40 percent of Americans engage in some form of religious activity, whether going to a mosque, a synagogue, or a church. And in turn, they feel better all around about their place in the larger civic community.

According to a statement on the website, these individual are more trusting of others, are more optimistic about their impact on their community, think more highly of their community, are more involved in more organizations of all kinds and devote more time to the groups to which they are active, in comparison to those who do not engage in religious activities.

>Read the study here

Volkswagen Agrees to Curb Company E-Mail in Off Hours

UNDER AN agreement reached this week with labor representatives, staff members at Volkswagen will receive emails via BlackBerry from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they finish, and will be in blackout mode the rest of the time.

In short, VW will deactivate emails for its German staff members when they are off duty.

Very few companies have taken such drastic measures to force workers toward a better work-life balance.

EAC Issues Formal Investigation Report on ES&S DS 200 Precinct Optical Scanner

GENERALLY SPEAKING, voters like the precinct based optical scanners that take a paper ballot and count it and deposit into a secure ballot box. But like I've always said, 'there is no perfect voting system.'

Now the Election Assistance Commission has completed its formal investigation into the Election Systems & Software's DS200 Precinct Count Optical Scanner. The conclusion is that there are three "anomalies" - they include:

1. Intermittent screen freezes, system lockups and shutdowns that prevents the voting system from operating in the manner in which it was designed.

2. Failure to log all normal and abnormal voting system events.

3. Skewing of the ballot resulting in a negative effect on system accuracy.

The manufacturer now has the opportunity to respond to the report and provide additional information. The EAC investigation was initiated by the organization as a result of information contained in an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer published on April 14, 2010, about a freeze/shutdown issue experienced in Cuyahoga County, Ohio during pre-election testing.

>Read more here

Net, Text, Tweet Ban for Jurors Begins January 1

COME JANUARY, before trials, California judges will admonish jurors to forgo any online research or chatter on Facebook or Twitter. The penalty for ignoring the instruction will be contempt of court charges, punishable by jail.

The new law is considered the sternest attempt yet to avoid "Google mistrials," a catch-all phrase used for verdicts overturned because jurors researched the trial online, mentioned it in social media forums or type out real-time updates in texts and tweets.

The Google mistrial is becoming a more frequent problem, according to legal researchers. Last year, the news service Reuters Legal and Westlaw, a legal research consortium, jointly published findings that jurors' Internet inquiries, blog comments and tweets had been cited by attorneys in challenging at least 90 verdicts since 2010.

>Read more about California's new law here

December 23, 2011

SOPA Bill Supporters

HEARD OF SOPA? If not, it's a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. (Read 'What is SOPA and how does it work - The Stop Online Piracy Act Explained').

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, job and revenue and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites. Opponents say that it infringes on First Amendment rights, is Internet censorship, will cripple the Internet and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on SOPA on November 16 and December 15 and will continue the debate when Congress returns from its winter recess.

The widely-hated SOPA is causing its supporters to suffer boycotts. Organizations such as GoDaddy and 3M are being targeted by serious activism.

Curious to know which corporations are backing the bill that could threaten the future of an uncensored Internet?

Below is that list, care of the House Judiciary Committee and DailyKos - the list has a number of unsurprising suspects as well as some that will leave you puzzled.

 >More background on SOPA and statements and letters of support - here
SOPA Supporters

>NOTE: Scratch GoDaddy's name off the list of supporters. Seems like the online activism aimed at the company caused them to change their position. Read GoDaddy's press release and statement here.

Video Chat Reshapes Domestic Rituals

THOUGH SKYPE is now eight years old, the software - and others like it, including Apple's FaceTime and Google chat - has become a regular fixture in a growing number of American homes, providing new ways for families to stay connected in an age where generations are less likely to gather around the table on Sunday afternoons to share a meal.

With the proliferation of built-in cameras and microphones on computers and mobile devices, broadband connections and program refinements, an average of 300 million minutes of Skype video calls are made a day globally, an increase of about 900 percent from 2007.

During peak time, Sunday morning in the United States, 30 million people are logged into their Skype account with half a million simultaneously making video calls.

>Read more about how video chat reshapes domestic rituals here.

December 22, 2011

Warren's Top Web Products of 2011

THE END of the year always brings predictions, summaries and lists of things that folks got right and wrong. Well, here's my list for 2011.

I've listed my top web/app products (couldn't live without) in no particular order.

How does it compare to your list? Let me know in the comments!

1. Evernote - this is my go-to product for organizing. I use Evernote for most capturing everything from taking notes, capturing web sites I want to remember, good camping spots, business notes, to restaurants and directions.

2. Dropbox -Despite the fact that I have Apple's iCloud service, I still use Dropbox to store and sync my important files.

3. Blogger - I have tried other blogging platforms but keeping coming back to the ease of use of Blogger.

4. Google+ - Another social network? If you're into photography, you can discover a great network of photographers on Google+ and lots more!

5. Instapaper - I load up Instapaper with articles that I want to read and then I read those later on my iPad at the Pete's in San Carlos, California.

6. Canary - I actually have three browsers on my system but this is my "go to" browser.

7. News360 - This is a news service but one of the things I especially like is that it is that it gathers all the news on a single news object and lets you read different takes on the topic. Beautiful images in a single intuitive stream make this a winner.

8. Kindle for iPad - I read books these days on my Kindle iPad app. Right now I am reading 'Back to Work' by former President Bill Clinton.

9. Tom Tom for iPhone - This GPS navigation software is a life saver. I use it all the time while driving around the Bay Area.

10. Camera+ - Being an amateur photographer, I take loads of pictures. This iPhone app is feature rich and easy to use.

Planning for Stronger Local Democracy

THE NATIONAL League of Cities has put together a resource guide entitled, "Planning for Stronger Democracy: A Field Guide for Local Officials."

The tool kit is designed to assist city leaders in strengthening local democracy by cultivating a culture with citizens and key allies that is transparent and inclusive with shared responsibilities and mutual accountability for addressing and solving problems.

>Read more on the toolkit and get it here.

December 21, 2011

Voter Fraud Mobile App

JUST IN time for Election Day, American Majority Action has created the nation's first mobile application to help identify, report and track suspected incidents of voter fraud and intimidation.

> Check out the app here

New Study Links Social Media Popularity to Polling Numbers

FOR OVER 80 years, professional pollsters have been trying to predict election outcomes. Now, an unlikely new technology may bring them one step closer to predicting the next President of the United States: social media.

A new study shows a strong association between a politician's popularity on social media and political polling numbers.

The study analyzed whether Facebook and Twitter fan and follower numbers and account growth rates correlate with political polling data by examining the leading Republican presidential candidates over a six-month period. Results from the study showed a statistically significant correlation between the total number of social media Facebook fans and Twitter followers a candidate had and his/her popularity in the polls.

>Read more about the new study here
GOP Social Media Analysis 21 Dec 2011 Final

YouTube Contributes to Newt's Drop in the Polls

A NEW poll from Public Policy Polling shows that Ron Paul has taken the lead in the Iowa caucus race, while Newt Ginrich's support is fading. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain were all the victims of their own momentary idiocy - vaccine rumors, oops moments, cluelessness about Libya, respectively.

But the Newt surge was slowed largely by YouTube (and Iowa television).

Here are all the anti-Ginrich ads from the past couple of weeks.

December 20, 2011

Iowa GOP Worried by Hacker Threat

TAKING SERIOUSLY an apparent threat from a notorious collective of computer hackers, the Iowa Republican Party is boosting the security of the electronic systems it will use in two weeks to count the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Investigators don't know if the threat is authentic, but is has nonetheless led the state party to confront a worst-case scenario. Their fear: an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House.

> Read more about the hacker threat here

2012 Election Mobile Apps

GEARING UP for the 2012 Presidential Election? Check out the apps below - got one that's great that I've left out - give a shout!

+ Election Day 2012 Countdown (for Windows or for Mac) lets you know how much time you have left to get your decisions squared away.

+ Political Fury is a top-rated trivia iPhone app that lets users engage in political debates with other players.

+ While not an app, exactly, Rock the Vote mobile updates only add to the phone-as-political-advisor movement, shooting you news and reminders along with reminders to get to the polls.

+ The New York Times Election 2012 app claims to be the best campaign coverage anywhere.

+ The highlights and sound bytes on The Daily Show app might be worthy of the $1.99 price tag.

+ Obama 2012 is exactly what it sounds like. If you want something silly, try Bachmann-eyeze.

+ Election 2012 allows you to quickly check possible election outcomes.

+ Campaign 2012 is billed as "your source for up-to-date information including news, opinions and analysis," about the prez race

Will Government Embrace Unified Communications in 2012?

AH, THE pleasure of phone tag. We call a colleague and leave a voicemail. Then we miss the return call, listen to the voicemail and jot down a note. It can take days before we get the information we need, and it's a horrible waste of time for everyone involved.

There's a simple way to test if your current communication methods are working: If you're reaching for a piece of paper, your communications process is broken. We shouldn't be jotting down voicemail notes and contact information in the 21st Century. To avoid this, we need realtime insight into where our colleagues are, understanding their availability and knowing how best to contact them at a particular time.

Communications become truly unified when you combine "presence - the ability to understand if a colleague is at his/her computer, in a meeting, on a conference call, or under a tight deadline and using that information to make contact in the most efficient way" -  with a host of integrated workplace communications tools, including chat and video conferencing.

>Read More

How Can Public Leaders Get Back Public Trust?

TRUST IN government these days is in short supply. In fact, it's one of the most important political problems of our time.

Why is this decline in trust happening? One answer comes from Todd Donovan, a professor of political science at Western Washington University. He claims that the constant barrage of information has contributed to the trend. "People don't like politics, and now it is on the news 24/7. A generation or two ago, "they didn't see that," he says."

Whatever the actual cause, what's a city, county or state to do?

Maricopa County, Arizona is one of the few places in which improving trust in government is a clearly pronounced goal.

The county's strategic plan outlines a number of approaches to increase citizen trust. The basics of the program include:

-Increasing visibility. The idea here is to make sure that citizens are aware of the many services the county is providing for them. This includes finding opportunities for leadership to participate in local and regional community events and to provide media training for leadership and staff.

-Expanding public engagement. The county plans to redesign its website to focus on services, not departments, thus adding more to the public's understanding of what the county is really doing for them. What's more, the strategic plan calls for finding more effective ways to solicit citizen participation, including the simple notion of holding informal board meetings throughout the county at night - when taxpayers can actually attend.

-Comparing efforts. Maricopa County is focused on transforming the organizational culture in a way that benchmarks the county against best management practices utilized by other public and private organizations.

> Read more

Technology Failures Prompt Criticism of Secretary of State

THE LATEST technology snafus to hit California's Secretary of State's Office have added to growing frustration from registrars and watchdog groups, who say Debra Bowen has been unresponsive to their concerns.

It's gotten so bad that Derek Cressman, Common Cause's Western states regional director, is calling for legislative oversight hearings on the secretary of state's technology operations. And Gail Pellerin, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials says, "It's been really hard to get a seat at the table." She claims that system downtown is causing unwieldy backlogs in local offices.

At issue is the CalVoter and Cal-Access systems which handle voter registrations and campaign contribution and lobbying information.

>Read More

December 19, 2011

Help Select the Country's Agenda with MTV's "Power of 12' Campaign

TODAY MTV unvelied the first phase of its 2012 Election Campaign, 'Power of 12,' which aims to inform and engage young voters and amplify their voices throughout the 2012 elections.

Details of the initial elements of MTV's Power of 12 include:

- Fantasy Election 12. MTV will build a game layer on top of the election and offer young people a new way to become power players in the electoral process.

- Our Voice. MTV will premiere a first-person news documentary on-air and online by Andrew Jenks that takes the temperature of young voters and brigns their concerns and priorities directly to the GOP Presidential candidates.

- When I was 22. In early 2012, MTV news will premiere the documentary, "When I was 22," which will give viewers a unique look inside the lives of the Presidential candidates when they were 22 years old.

- MTV has unveiled a new Web site that will feature a stream of the election news that is most relevant to its audience, snapshot views of the political candidates, easy-to-understand primers on the major issues that affect young people in the election and information for first-time voters.

- MTV News coverage. As always, MTV News will be on-the-ground, covering the major political events leading up to and following election 2012.

Tech Solutions Don't Have to Cost Millions

THE NON-profit 'Code for America' gives programmers an opportunity to lend their expertise to state and local governments. The effort has resulted in applications that have solved some nagging and pressing problems.

Parents in Boston complained bitterly, for instance, about the needlessly complex enrollment process for public schools. To sign up their children for school, parents were forced to navigate a Byzantine 28-page pamphlet seemingly designed to confuse. What's more, the process made it difficult for parents to make smart choices about schools based on criteria they considered important, such as proximity and user ratings.

But this year all of that changed.

A Code for America fellow taking a break from a tech career as a chief technology officer and entrepreneur, saw the problem, mapped out a solution and wrote a Web application, Discover BPS, that has a simple, easy-to-use interface and includes all manner of sorting capabilities.

He did this in two months, by himself.

>Read more about an elegant solution for government IT problems here.

>Takle a look at a gallery of Code for America solutions here.

December 18, 2011

Be More Than a Citizen, Be a Votizen

OVER LUNCH the other day, David Binetti, Founder and CEO of 'Votizen,' told me that the easiest way to describe Votizen is that it's the Linkedin of politics.

But it's a lot more than that - it's a way to change campaigning and the political conversation.

Votizen's mission is to create a connected electorate, where real voters establish and build on direct relationships with those who seek and hold elected office.

It's described as an online network of real voters who have expressed their commitment to be engaged citizens. A free service, Votizen allows its members - Votizens - to claim their voter profile, learn about issues and elections and take collective action with other committed voters through social media.

Backed by the original investors in Facebook and Twitter, Votizen is an independent company no affiliated with any political party, candidate or special interest group.

Jump to 2 minutes in on the video below and listen to Sean Parker, Napster's co-founder and an early Facebook booster,  talk about Votizen and the future of government. Also, if you are a candidate or interested in politics and changing the conversation, check out Votizen.

Watch live streaming video from techonomy at

New Rules to Stop Teacher and Student From Getting "Too" Social Online

FACED WITH scandals and complaints involving teachers who misuse social media, school districts across the county are imposing strict new guidelines that ban private conversations between teachers and their students on cellphones and online platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The policies come as educators deal with a wide range of new problems. Some teachers have set poor examples by posting lurid comments or photographs involving sex or alcohol on social media sites. Some have had inappropriate contact with students that blur the teacher-student boundary. In extreme cases, teachers and coaches have been jailed on sexual abuse and assault charges after having relationships with students that, law enforcement officials say, began with electronic communication.

> Read more in the NY Times

December 16, 2011

No More Parking Tickets?

THE SAN Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has launched the PayByPhone parking payment service. Drivers can pull into a spot and pay for parking time online via a mobile device or call a toll-free number. There service is now available for parking meters in SF's Castro neighborhood and will spread to other areas of the city by early 2012.

To use the system, drivers will enter the meter location and the length of time they want to pay for on the phone. In addition, as time runs down on the parking meter, those using PayByPhone via cellphone will receive a text message reminder when time is about to expire, along with the ability to pay for additional time and receive receipts via email.

>Read More

Introducing the Open Data Portal for Cook County Government

COOK COUNTY has an open data portal and it's a great example of using government data to help people. Take a minute and look around to see what's possible.

Some of the data that is available includes:

1. Cook County Contracts

2. Outpatient Registrations by Zip Code (visualization)

3. Taxes Collected

4. Contact Information Map of Elected Officials (visualization)

5. Government Services Locator (visualization)

6. Check Register

7. Top 5 Sheriff's Police Violations (visualization)

8. Cook County Mortgages (visualization)

Below is an example of the government services locator visualization.

Powered by Socrata

The data catalog includes data for courts, finance and administration, economic development, GIS, healthcare, public safety, parks and property and taxation. There are also eight video tutorials that will help guide the user through various processes. And finally, the Cook County Open Government Plan is included at the portal.

> Take a look here

December 15, 2011

California Website's Glitches Block Online Tracking of Campaign Donations

WITH JUST six months until the June primary election, campaign cash is starting to flow to candidate and ballot measure committees.

But for much of the past two weeks, technological difficulties have blocked the public's ability to track the transaction online.

Cal-Acccess, the 12-year-old portal for filing campaign finance and lobbying reports, has been down for all but 30 hours since November 30.

But with fundraising for the 2012 ballot measures and candidate campaigns ramping up, the repeated failures of the state's only online disclosure database for campaign and lobbying reports is troubling for advocates.

> Read more including the Secretary of State's comments on the downtime and the need for millions of dollars for a new system.

Note: This problem is ripe for a 'civic hackathon.' Why not get state officials, users, developers and other interested parties together to identify the problems and develop a prototype solution in a collaborative environment? Someone at the state level should take a leadership role in making this happen - despite what the article claims, it doesn't seem like a new system should costs millions.

What do you think? Email

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows

HOSPITALS AND doctors' offices, hoping to curb medical error, have invested heavily to put computers, smartphones and other devices into the hands of medical staff for instant access to patient data, drug information and case studies.

But like many cures, this solution has come with an unintended side effect: doctors and nurses can be focused on the screen and not the patient, even during moments of critical care. And they are not always doing work; examples include a neurosurgeon making personal calls during an operation, a nurse checking airfares during surgery and a poll showing that half of technicians running bypass machines had admitted texting during a procedure.

>Read More

Don't Push the Panic Button on E-Voting

IN AN age of electronic communication, it seems archaic that voters in civic elections must physically show up at a polling station to cast their ballots. Some day, people will surely be able to vote using their computers, phones or iPods.

>Read the editorial in the Edmonton Journal 

Tenth Annual 'Digital Future' Study Released

OVER THE past decade, Americans have witnessed the rise of social networks and mobile technology that's put the Internet at an arm's reach, day and night - yet a new study has found that people are even more distrustful of the information they find online.

The Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School has released its tenth study on "Surveying the Digital Future." A few highlights include:

Three-quarters of Internet users find the Web an important source of information, but most people still don't deem the content they see online reliable, according to a report out this week from the University of Southern California's Center for the Digital Future.

In 2010, 15 percent of Internet users said they find only a small portion of online information reliable. That's greater than the 7 percent who were likewise skeptical of the vast majority of information they come across on the Internet.

Trust grows when it comes to established media outlets and government websites. In 2010, 79 percent of Internet users said they found content posted on government websites reliable, about the same as in 2003, the first year the center looked at the question.

> Read the study's summary here.

Code for America Gets Google Grant

CODE FOR America made some important announcements yesterday that will have a big impact on CfA's work in 2012.

Google Grant - CfA will receive a $1.5 million grant from Google to expand its fellowship program and develop two new programs, the CFA Brigade and Civic Startup Speed Accelerator.

CfA Brigade - CfA will launch the brigade, an online platform to connect civic hackers and others with each other locally, and reuse and remix civic apple in their cities.

Civic Startup Speed Accelerator - CfA will launch this project to foster sustainable businesses that can become the next generation of government vendors.

> Read the Code for America's 2011 Annual Report here.

'Capitol Words' Revamped and Much Improved Returns

MORE THAN three years ago, the Sunlight Foundation launched a website called 'Capitol Words' that gave an at-a-glance view of what word was most popular in Congress. On December 12, the Foundation unveiled a completely revamped and rewritten Capitol Words.

Capitol Words scrapes the bulk data of the Congressional Record from the Government Printing Office, does some computer magic to clean-up and organize the data, then presents an easy-to-use front-end website where you can quickly search the favorite keywords of legislators, states or dates.

The new version allows users to search, index and graph up to five-word phrases that give greater context and meaning to the turns-of-phrase singing across the aisle. Where the site once could only track individual terms like 'health' or 'energy,' now the site can break down the issue further into 'health care reform,' 'renewable energy,' 'high energy prices,' or however you wish.

The new advanced comparison chart pits two terms against each other in a contest of partisanship or popularity. The simple chart plots the contest winner and visualizes the debate with an embed code as easy to use as a YouTube video.

>Read More

December 14, 2011

Build a Better Civic Hackathon: Lessons From Education Hack day

EDUCATION HACK Day, held November 12 and 13 in Baltimore, can teach us all how to "build a better civic hackathon."

For those of you organizing civic hackathons, what's important to note is that this was a collaborative effort between teachers and developers. Teachers outlined their problems. Developers addressed them.

According to Luke Fretwell of GovFresh, "too many civic hackathons focus on developer vanity projects that don't address real technology issues governments face. Government must bne proactive in organizing and sharing their needs and collaborate with civic-minded developers during hackathons like Education Hack Day to get these problems addressed. Developers need to focus on projects that make a difference and provide sustainable technology solutions."

ShineOn Storytelling created an excellent video overview of Education Hack Day.

> You might also like - "App outreach and sustainability: lessons learned by Portland, Oregon

Russia Promises Full Access to Election Probe

RUSSIA'S FOREIGN minister has said the results of a probe into alleged fraud at the December 4 parliamentary elections will be open to the "international community."

"President Dmitry Medevedev has already instructed the Prosecutor's Office and Interior Ministry officials to investigate all complaints registered regarding elections."

"The results of the investigation will be made available to the Russian society as well as the international community," said Sergei Larrov.

Russia's independent election monitoring organization Golos said it had logged more than 7,000 cases of possible election irregularities.

>Read More

3 Themes of the 2012 Gov 2.0 L.A. Event

THE THIRD Gov 2.0 L.A. is scheduled to be held April 2012 in Santa Monica, California.

If you can't make it in person, the event will be fully live-streamed and interactive with Twitter, Facebook and chat.

The three themes of the upcoming Gov 2.0 L.A. are:

1. Business inside government and how it is rapidly becoming different, things like SCRM are being deployed and government is basically being forced to restructure itself.

2. Governments' use and management of social media in crisis like earthquake, hurricanes and riots.

3. Engagement is now being taken as a for granted thing, "everyone has a Facebook page" but how real is it and how are crowd-sourcing and public private partnerships re-arranging the landscape?

If you would like to submit a panel idea or speak, please contact the conference here.

> Videos from last year's event are here.

> Follow on Twitter @Ideagov

December 13, 2011

What Organized Labor Could Learn From Occupy Wall Street

AT A 'Personal Democracy Media' event held last night, panelists deeply involved in the labor movement repeatedly touched on what they called the failures of traditional institutions to adapt to the 21st century.

The wide-ranging, two-and-a-half-hour-long event covered territory ranging from the emergence of 'open-source brands' - the way "Occupy" became a prefix for dozens of related, uncoordinated, complementary efforts, spontaneously becoming unauthorized sub-brands of the wider movement because nobody's there to withhold permission - to the increasing power of personal connections and personal narrative.

But for several minutes, speakers with experience in the labor movement focused on the organizational arthritis that appears to now harry big unions like SEIU.

> Tech President

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at

California Creates Special Unit to Fight Computer Crimes

CALIFORNIA HAS long led the nation in technological innovation. A lesser-known fact: It also leads the country in cybercrime.

The state has the most identity theft complaints and the third-highest number per capita, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Over a million Californians are victims of identity theft every year. Taken together, the F.T.C. estimates that their losses exceeded $46 million last year.

The state is now accelerating its crusade against cybercriminals. On Tuesday, the California Attorney General announced the creation of the nation's largest e-crime unit, a group of 20 investigators and prosecutors whose sole mission will be to thwart and prosecute cybercrimes like identity theft, Internet scams, computer theft, online child pornography and intellectual property theft across the state.

> Read More

Ranked Choice Voting On It's Way Out In San Francisco?

SAN FRANCISCO'S ranked-choice voting system is drawing ire from elected officials on both sides of the City's aisle - well, Democrat and progressive Democrat - who may soon introduced competing measures to do away with the non-year old voting system.

For the uninitiated, which includes most San Francisco voters, according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced legislation to do away with ranked-choice voting on Election Day - a voter selects up to three candidates and ranks them first, second, or third in ranked-choice voting, or instant runoff voting.

The candidate with the least amount of first-place votes at the end of voting is eliminated. A voter who had that candidate first will now have their second-place choice count towards the candidates's vote total.

And so on, until one candidate has a majority.

The recent SF Mayoral election saw more than 31,000 voters, who filled out their ballot correctly, have their votes discarded when all of their chosen candidates were eliminated from the race. And that was despite spending $300,000 on an education campaign.

Bottom line - San Francisco voters have trouble with ranked-choice elections.

> Read More

Legislative Alert App Prototype Developed at SF Hackathon

DEVELOPERS GATHERED over the weekend in San Francisco to compete in a 24-hour hackathon in an effort to build apps that benefit the community and help government agencies embrace transparency.

Of the completed and nearly completed products from the event, one team developed an app prototype that would send out legislative alerts via text message.

The idea is that after a user signs up for legislative alerts, they would receive notifications when new legislation or an agenda item is introduced. The user would choose keywords he or she would like information on so updates could be more specific.

For instance, if a user is interested in information on liquor licenses or development projects in a specific neighborhood, the user would subscribe to receive alerts about those topics. If a new liquor license or development project was about to be approved in a given area, the user would receive a text message update.

While there are services that notify citizens of state legislation, we know of no application that notifies local residents of matters being considered by county supervisors or city councils.

The legislative alert app is a concept for the moment but developers might take it to the next step.

California Allows Campaign Contributions Via Text Messaging

POLITICAL DONORS are now free to contribute to their favorite California candidates via text message, says the Fair Political Practices Commission.

California is the first state in the nation to allow political contributions through what is becoming a popular method of donating to charities and disaster relief effort.

The FPPC said, "The main goal is to broaden voter participation by offering a mechanism to include citizens in the political process who normally do not participate in campaigns and elections, particularly the younger generation."

It's now up to the wireless carriers and campaigns to implement systems that permit contributions by text message. The concept is similar to texting a donation to a disaster relief fund or a charity. A person can simply send a text message to donate to his/her favorite candidate or cause. The donation amount would be included in the donor's monthly phone bill and when the bill is paid, the campaign would get the contribution.

> Vist the FPPC

December 12, 2011

Occupy Video Showcases Live Streaming

THE NEW York Times' Jen Preston looks at how video streaming services are getting renewed interest after Occupy Wall Street.

She says that "now, the huge amount of user-generated live video produced by the Occupy Wall Street movement has delivered what could be a watershed moment for Ustream and Livestream, potentially helping them gain the audience needed to become viable businesses."

"With cellphones, iPads and video cameras affixed to laptops, Occupy participants showed that almost anyone could broadcast live news online. In addition, they could help build an audience for their video by inviting people to talk about what they were seeing."

>Read More

Note: When I was writing these words, I was watching an Occupy protest live at the Port of Oakland. The broadcaster said, "there is no media coverage" but there are 250 people watching online." I watched the live stream for around 20 minutes and the number of viewers climbed to about 340. In addition, I asked the guy who was taking the video a question via Twitter and he answered during the video.

Moneyball Government

FEATHER O'CONNOR Houstoun, a Governing contributor, has posted an interesting piece called "Moneyball Government."

Here's what she has to say.

"My copy of 'Moneyball' is annotated in the early chapters, when Beane first challenges the staff of scouts charged with picking draft choices for the A's. For any public manager who's taken on the task of turning around a major institution, the similarities are startlingly familiar. Consider these excerpts:

-"In professional baseball it matters less how much money you have than how well you spend it." In the public sector, while the most attention is often on the increment of increase or reduction of funding, the quality of programming of the base budget is usually what determines success or failure.

-"You don't change guys, they are who they are and [the infield coach] had a gift for making players want to be better than they were." These two phrases, seemingly in contradiction to each other, in fact capture the essence of good leadership. A strong leader first matches the task at hand with the right talent and then motivates improvement to achieve success.

-"Are we asking the right question?" In what perhaps is the most important lesson from 'Moneyball,' Lewis recounts repeatedly how time-honored measurements of player value missed the mark. When the A's lost a key player, Beane scoured the data to identify the unique quality, among many, that the departing player contributed to the team's success, and then drafted an improbable successor at low cost - because he understood "what are we looking for."

These are the central questions in public management. What are we really trying to accomplish, and how will we know how we're doing?

Go see the movie and read Houstoun's column.

Single Domain for UK Government

AFTER DIGESTING feedback from the UK's prototype of a single domain for government, there's now a clear next step towards the revolution.

The core objectives of the "Government Digital Service" are:

1. Public beta test of the site delivering the mainstream, citizen-facing aspects of

2. Private beta test of a shared 'corporate' publishing platform, aimed at replacing most of the activity currently hosted on numerous departmental publishing environments.

3. A first draft of a 'Global Experience Language,' to provide clear, consistent design, user-experience and brand clarity for those developing sites for the single domain.

The deadline for delivery of all three objectives is early 2012.

>Visit Gov Digital Service

December 10, 2011

5 Questions About Tonight's GOP Debate

THE GOP presidential candidates meet tonight (without Herman and Jon) for the first of two pivotal debates ahead of the January 3, 2012 Iowa caucuses. As backdrop, Newt surges in the polls and Ron airs attack ads and people are waiting for Mitt to do something. And the latest - "The Donald" will moderate a debate - that only Newt may attend.

Tonight's main event takes place in Des Moines, Iowa and Thursday's face off takes place in Sioux City. Both have the potential to be more like "fight night" than debate, as candidates make their case to caucusgoers and the nation.

The debate airs at 9 PM PT on ABC News.

Here are some things to watch for tonight.

1. Can Newt take a punch?

2. Will Mitt land a punch?

3. How hard will Ron swing?

4. Can Rick recover?

5. Will Michele and Rick get in the ring?

December 9, 2011

Internet Freedom

GOOGLE'S BIG Tent event, held at The Hague on December 8, 2011 is featured in this video. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, and others discuss internet freedom. Hillary Clinton's remarks on the need for internet freedom are noteworthy.

Gov Web Apps Expose Themselves to Attacks

THE MOST commonly exploited security holes in Web applications are more common on government websites than on those in other sectors, according to the latest survey by application security provider Veracode.

Vulnerabilities to cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection, which have played a part in high-profile attacks from hackers groups such as Anonymous, affected a higher percentage of government sites than the other industry sectors tested. XSS issues affected 75 percent of government - federal, state and local - applications, compared with 67 percent for the finance sector and 55 percent for the software sector.

>Read the report

Charges of Russian Election Fraud Grow

THIS VIDEO, according to a Russian blogger who shot it and posted it online, shows a deputy chairman of one of the polling places in Moscow, a member of United Russia party, stealing the ballots at the end of the voting day without following the procedure for the vote count and registering the official results.

Shot during Russian elections last Sunday, this video is one of many examples of alleged election fraud that went viral, and started anti-government protests in Russia. All week crowd-sourced internet television, bloggers, Twitterers, youtubers and facebookers share information about upcoming protests, photos, videos, capturing mass arrests during the two-day rally in Moscow that followed the elections results, showing the world heavily armed riot police with water cannons. More Russian mass protests against the election results are scheduled for this Saturday: up to 30,000 people are allowed to gather in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, and 11 other cities in Russia also received official permits. The internet seems to be exploding from the information exchange and attempts to organize demonstrations and to warn about possible provocations.

>Forbes has more. Read it here.

How to Perform a Citizen's Arrest and Be a Real Life Superhero

PICTURE A moment where you're minding your own business when suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see someone snatch a purse and start running. Do you chase them down? Legally, you can and if you do, you can make a citizen's arrest, but it's good to know your rights.

In reality, a citizen's arrest isn't as romantic as you probably picture and it comes with a few dangers, including the potential for physical harm and criminal charges against you. It's important to know the rules of when and where you can do it and they vary by country. In the United States, for instance, it's a state statute, so it changes from state to state, with North Carolina being the only state where you cannot make a citizen's arrest. To find out the rules of your state, search the US Government's database of laws.

Lifehacker has a short article that describes when can you make a citizen's arrest and lots more.

>Read More

December 8, 2011

How Political Discussions Differ on Twitter and Blogs

THE POLITICAL conversation on Twitter is markedly different than that on blogs - and both are decidedly different than the political narrative presented by the mainstream press, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzed more than 20 million tweets, the online conversation and traditional news coverage about the campaign.

The study finds that campaign discourse on Twitter tended to be more opinionated and often more negative about candidates than on blogs and in the news. The Twitter conversation about a candidate was also more likely to change from week to week than on blogs.

The study also updates the tone and amount of attention to each candidate in news coverage overall, in an elite sub-sample of national news outlets, and in the political blogosphere.
>Read the report

The Science of Lines: What Works & What Doesn't

ONE OF the things that people hate about going to the DMV is waiting in line. Same thing is true in many other citizen oriented service departments.
While the main focus of this blog is government innovation using digital technology, this morning's Wall Street Journal has a great article that should be read by government managers - it's about the science of lines.

The focus surrounds retailers efforts aimed at trying to speed up lines and what works and what adds to aggravation.

Maybe there's a nugget in the material that you could use to help improve the citizen experience?

>Read the article

Shoot a Better iPhone Video

GOT AN iPhone? You obviously know that the device has a great camera for taking still pictures. But you can also take great video with an iPhone.

Camp 4 Collective is a powerhouse adventure video and film production team that includes some of the world's best climber-photographers. They tend to shoot in the world's most extreme, least seen places. And a few days ago they released The Denali Experiment, featuring an all-star crew of mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders blending their skills to climb up and shred down North America's tallest peak.

Well, recently Camp 4 conducted another experiment: They shot a music video on a camera phone.

You can watch their music video here. (It's really worth looking at for technique and inspiration).

Gillian Chase - iPhone 4s Music Video from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

But that's not the point of this article.

What I wanted to do was turn you on to Camp 4's tips on how to use your phone to get the best video results.

Maybe you want to capture a video of a presidential candidate's campaign stop or share with us your local campaign headquarters? Or maybe you want to capture a city council debate? Maybe an Occupy event?

Whatever your passion, these tips will help you create a better product.

Oh, and be sure to link us up with your videos.

>Read the tips

The Citizens Agenda: Making Election Coverage More Useful

IN AN effort to improve election coverage, The Guardian is attempting to revise the media narrative of the presidential campaign to gain meaningful information and access by creating a citizens agenda. They are inviting folks to "help refresh the media's tired templates of campaign coverage to address issues people really care about."

>Read More

CityCampSF Hackathon

GRANICUS IS partnering with CityCampSF to host a 24-hour Open Government Hackathon in San Francisco, December 10-11th at Granicus Headquarters. The event will bring together developers and other creative professionals to build applications that deliver valuable resources to the community and help governments run smarter, more transparent operations.

"CityCamp events focus on bringing together innovators from the technology, journalism, government and neighborhood leadership communities to help solve the tough issues facing our city and state," said Adriel Hampton, founder of Gov 2.0 Radio and lead organizer for CityCampSF.

The event is part of a broader policy movement across the country to embrace open data. In fact, California Senator Leland Yee has drafted a bill to ensure all electronic public records follow a structured data format.

>Read More

December 7, 2011

Campaigning 2:0: A Lesson from Ron Paul's Playbook

THE RON Paul campaign is using YouTube not just to passively advertise, but to call its volunteers to action.

The campaign featured two young women who encouraged viewers to phone bank for the campaign from home, and provided links to the campaign's web site with the application, as well as a link to a Facebook support group. The video, which appears to have been produced by supporters, even contained a phone number and email addresses that viewers could call to get more information about the process.

Bonus Idea

With Google+, a campaign could start a Google+ Hangout and watch this type of YouTube video in a small group of potential campaign volunteers. Watch the video, talk about the campaign and sign-up campaign volunteers - or potential donors, precinct captains and/or opinion leaders.

Daily Beast "Hangout" Today

A FEW months ago, when Google launched its competitor to Facebook in Google+, one feature stuck out as particularly cool. It's called Hangout, and it lets anyone join a nine-person live video chat right there in Google+'s newsfeed. It's been used by politicians like Mitt and Newt.

Today, starting at 4:30 PM ET, The Daily Beast will host a live interview with renowned computer-interface designer and user-experience lead for Android, Matias Duarte. The chat will cover mobile technology and Ice Cream Sandwich - Google's latest mobile operating system.

Join the conversation. Keep an eye on The Daily Beast's Google+ page around 4:30 PM ET for notification that their Hangout has started. Then click "join" and bring your geeky questions.

The 30-minute interview will be recorded and shared on the Daily Beast's Beast TV later this week.

Good luck!

More Telecommuting for Gov Workers

A RECENT survey of government employees revealed that 50 percent of government workers would switch jobs if they could telecommute more often or at all. The results indicate the importance of flexible working options to government employees and provide greater insights for public sector managers seeking to retain and recruit new talent.

>Read More

December 6, 2011

State Checkbook Now Online

MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS who want to find out how their tax dollars are being spent will now have an easier time rummaging through the state's checkbook.

Top state officials have unveiled a new website to help members of the public track state spending. It's called "Open Checkbook" and it lets people see how much the state is spending on individual contracts with private vendors and compare the budgets of different state agencies.

Officials warn that the website, which updates spending in real time, is still a work in progress. Additionally, it currently tracks about 72 percent of all state spending.

>Take a look

Congo Elections: It's Looking Bad

THE ELECTION commission is supposed to announce the results of Congo's presidential elections today, but officials are warning of a postponement. Meanwhile, there are many stories of gross electoral malfeasance. The head of the commission, seen as an ally of incumbent president Joseph Kabila, is saying that the president has a substantial lead in the votes counted thus far.

>Read More

In Protests, Two Russias Face Off

TWO RUSSIAS faced off in Moscow on Tuesday night, the blogging social media generation, risen up from their laptops in protest against Sunday's elections and the status quo, and busloads of students brought in from small towns to demonstrate their support for the ruling United Russia party and preserve the status quo.

>Read More