First Post

New Deals

New Deals

Craigslist founder launches Water for Flint challenge; civic tech and Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement; and more.

  • This is civic tech: Building on earlier writing (including work he did for techPresident and republished in our book “A Lever and a Place to Stand“), Matt Leighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium suggests some key goals for the civic tech field. He writes:

    To make our democracies more participatory, energetic, efficient and equitable, we should take stock of how civic tech can be part of an overhaul of our whole civic infrastructure. How can online tools help revitalize face-to-face meetings? How can online forums help sustain social and political connections among large numbers of people? How can we give more people — especially those who face barriers related to education, language and economic stability — the skills and support they need to participate effectively, online or off?


  • Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist and longtime friend of Personal Democracy Media and Civic Hall) is teaming up with Crowdrise to launch a massive “Water for Flint challenge.” For every $20 donated to any CrowdRise campaign for Flint Water Crisis Relief, his charity craigconnects with match it with 100 cases of water to be distributed to Flint residents. Newmark says, “The deal is I want to put clean drinking water into the hands of every person who’s in Flint, Michigan. I actually spent about a decade living not too far from Flint, so this really hits close to home for me.” So far, he’s donated 17,335 cases of water.

  • Nithin Coca has a fascinating in-depth look for Greenpeace’s MobLab at Taiwan’s Sunflower movement, which is using “software, social media, and other rapidly evolving technologies [to fuel] digital democracy and political change in Taiwan.” Among the tools discussed: Hackfoldr (open source multi-level bookmarking), Loomio (online consensus decision-making), Hacked and Ethercalc (for realtime document sharing), and (a non-hierarchical commenting platform).

  • Our friends at GovLab are out with a big new report on the four key ways that open data is changing the world: by improving government, empowering citizens, creating opportunity, and solving public problems.

  • The Political TV Ad Archive has launched courtesy of the folks at the Internet Archive, chock-a-block with more than 30,000 ads from the early 2016 primary states, along with the data on how often it aired, where and when. (Congrats to our friends Roger MacDonald, Nancy Watzman, and Dan Schultz!)

  • Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent every year by the philanthropic sector for improving voter education, registration, election administration and civic participation, voter turnout in the United States is stagnant or declining, Kelly Born of the Hewlett Foundation writes for Stanford Social Innovation Review. It’s the introduction to a series of 15 forthcoming pieces examining what the social sector can do to improve turnout, that we’re looking forward to reading.

  • Imprisoned Iraq War whistleblower Chelsea Manning gave a rare interview to artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, which BoingBoing has published. In it she talks about her view of big data, data mining, transparency and related subjects. She says, “we need laws that actually promote openness. We need transparency laws. Such laws would not be the Orwellian, ironically named ‘Freedom of Information’ laws that local, state, and the federal governments regularly use to deny information. Instead, these would be open records laws that would allow the public to quickly and efficiently examine what is going on in their government in their own neighborhoods, towns, cities, and states.”

  • How we live today: Silicon Valley whiz-kids are running out of real problems that they can solve. Or shall we say, real “First World” problems. That’s the underlying point of Sarah Kessler’s snarky and funny piece for Fast Company about the new batch of “gas-delivery start-ups” that are hoping to top off your car’s tank for you. (She’s got liquor-delivery, suitcase-packing, and on-demand laundry service in there too.)

  • President Obama has a thing for tech gadgets, Michael Shear reports for the New York Times.

  • Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has posted a story to Medium (where else?!) titled, “At 83, I Decided to Develop an App.” It’s for a version of solitaire. The comments on his post, starting with one by Medium cartoonist Matt Bors, are, shall we say, to die for.

  • Another longtime friend (and Civic Hall member), Zephyr Teachout, has announced that she is running for Congress, as Jesse McKinley reports for the New York Times. She’s tackling the same upstate New York congressional district that stymied Sean Eldridge (Chris Hughes’ husband) in 2014, but this time the incumbent Republican congressman Chris Gibson is stepping down.