Brazil…A Model to Follow?

Long before even considering applying to the MCDM, I had a discussion with two of my tech-savvy cousins who were born and raised in Bahia, Brazil. At their young age, they managed political conversations in a mature manner. It was in 2008 that they discussed how they were able to join chat room discussions about political issues that included anyone from perfect strangers, to the “diputados”, State representatives. My cousins didn’t use terms like “E-democracy” or “digital platforms”, but they did understand that they had more possibilities of interacting with their representatives than I did in the United States.

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Wake up legislatures, it’s 2012!

“Not everything is political, but increasingly, everyone is.” – Sarah Schacht

For those feeling like they have no say in government, Sarah Schacht, founder and executive director of Knowledge As Power, an online nonpartisan system that helps individuals effectively participate in the legislative process, would like to convince you otherwise. She’s spent the last 10 years of her life embedded politically and she’s made it her personal mission to help the average individual become a powerful citizen.

Her chapter ‘Democracy, Under Everything’ in Open Government is an open call to state legislatures to make government information accessible to civilians in a timely fashion. Arguing that the websites available to us for searching information on bills etc. often are not published quickly enough and done so on archaic public systems, Schacht indeed makes the case that “the tools of our modern legislative process are old and ill-fitting” (Lathrop et. al 2010).

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Washington, DC Goes OpenSource

ArsTechnica reports that the District of Columbia local government is moving its “office” tools from the desktop to the cloud. The $500,000 agreement involves migrating 38,000 employees (less than $15/employee) to Google Apps, which includes Gmail, Google Docs and Google Video for business. There are also intranets and wikis (Google Sites).

This Day In History: Truman’s First Televised Speech

On 5 October 1947, President Harry Truman delivered the first televised speech from the White House. In this speech, Truman asked Americans to change their food consumption patterns — no meat Tuesdays; no eggs or poultry on Thursdays — to help Europeans, who were starving.

Truman’s speech launched the TV presidency; all of his subsequent White House speeches were televised, even though most Americans (only 14,000 sets at the time) did not own a television set. A month later, the first Senate committee hearing was televised. Truman later became the first political candidate to buy a television ad, in the 1948 presidential contest. However, President Franklin Roosevelt was the first to appear on television, 30 April 1939.

On the web: How The White House Discovered Television

A Tangential Topic: Privacy

The federal government is investing $3.2 billion over a 21-year period to monitor 100,000 kids from birth to adulthood, all in the name of improving public heath. All of these digital records will be collected by federal agencies (thus related to our course). The immediate issue that struck me upon reading this article in the Tyler (TX) Morning Telegraph was one of privacy, that is, ensuring that all of this private data remains properly protected.