#BlackonCampus; why think tanks should become civic enterprises; trusting in the cloud; and more.
Today’s must-reads: New America president (and Civic Hall founding partner) Anne-Marie Slaughter and Open Technology Institute senior adviser Ben Scott say it’s time for think tanks to become “civic enterprises.” They explain:
“Civic” because it engages citizens as change makers—conscious members of a self-governing polity that expects government to be at least part of the solution to problems that individuals cannot solve on their own. And “enterprise” because of the energy and innovation involved in actually making change on the ground. Civic enterprise blends conventional policy research with local organizing, coalition building, public education, advocacy, and bottom-up projects that generate and test ideas before, during, and after engagement in the policymaking process with government.
They add: “The pendulum of American political history is swinging toward ‘democratizing technocracy,’ giving people more opportunity to participate in self-government. This is particularly powerful in an era when many citizens doubt the power and value of their vote. Civic enterprise is about knocking down the walls and partitions that have grown up between the policy class and the citizens we purport to serve.” Amen to that!
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith has posted a long manifesto on technology and privacy, with the intriguing title of “In the cloud we trust. ” In it, he urinates on some of the biggest events of the last year—the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Sony Pictures hack, as well as governments from Russia to China to the United Kingdom and the United States seeking greater access to and control of individual online communications—and wrestles with the conflicting demands of cybersecurity and personal privacy and free expression. He concludes:
Inspired by the events of the past year, our cloud business will be grounded in four commitments to governments, enterprises, consumers, and people around the world. We will keep their data secure. We will ensure people’s data is private and under their control. We will figure out the laws in each country and make sure data is managed accordingly. And we will be transparent so people know what we are doing.
Government openings: The U.S. Treasury Department is working on reinventing USASpending.gov, which tracks all federal spending, and it’s inviting the public to “participate in its development” through this beta site. (h/t @18F)
Appearing just in time for Veterans Day, here’s the new alpha version of Vets.gov. And here’s a GIF made by 18F’s Eric Mill showing how the Vets.gov site has evolved over the last 9 months.
GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul says he has “mixed feelings” about Edward Snowden, agreeing that he is a “whistleblower” but also arguing that “there probably has to be some” penalty for his revealing classified government information.
Speed of Change: The #BlackOnCampus hashtag has exploded with people “who are dissecting examples of white privilege, ‘microaggression,’ and accusations of reverse racism,” reports Katie Rogers for the New York Times. (Topsy analytics show nearly 100,000 uses of the hashtag in the last two days.)
This is civic tech: Susan Crawford reports for Backchannel on the work of Smart Chicago Collaborative’s Youth-Led Tech program and how it is “crossing the digital divide.”