First Post: Home Bases | Civicist – Civicist

From AIDS to COVID-19, what we should learn; Zoom fixes you need to install; new online governance flexibility; and much more.

How civic tech is responding: Nesta, the UK-government-sponsored innovation charity, has given the Coronavirus Tech Handbook £50,000 to support its ongoing development. Edward Saperia from Newspeak House, which spawned the handbook, commented: “The main problem is one of coordination. Experts and institutions across all nations are all focusing their efforts on this – we will beat it if we work together, and that means specialising and learning from each other. If you’re working on a response to this pandemic, whether as part of a large institution or a lone volunteer, make sure it’s represented in the handbook. If you’re updating your strategy, review the handbook to see if you can learn from the experience of others.”

Civic Hall member Victoria Gaytan helped launch, a new site with a ton of useful coronavirus information in Spanish.

Tuesday it was a google doc, but now here’s a much more readable version of the Code for All Network’s compendium of global civic tech responses to coronavirus.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged $1 billion, 28% of his net worth, to Start Small Foundation, a donor advised fund and LLC for supporting global pandemic relief. If only other billionaires were half as generous.

Privacy, shmivacy: If you haven’t updated your version of Zoom, do it now—the company has made some improvements in its security. The Anti-Defamation League offers more details on how to fine-tune your Zoom settings to fight Zoombombing. Alex Stamos of Stanford, formerly Facebook’s security chief, is also offering his help to Zoom.

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Democracy with physical distancing? Hollie Russon Gilman writes for Next City about how civic life is migrating online, with states like California and New York loosening rules governing public meetings to allow for teleconferencing. She correctly notes that this “comes with an increased responsibility to bridge preexisting digital divides and reduce barriers to access and entry when it comes to technology,” and also ponders (like me) whether local governments will also use this opportunity to expand participation and reinvent governance.

With petitioning for candidates and ballot measures impossible due to social distancing, Maplight has launched a free prototype software for the secure digital collection of signatures that it is offering to governments for free..

Deep thoughts: Make time to read Steven Thrasher’s meditation, in Slate, on how the history of prisons, social isolation and AIDS activism may inform the shaping of our new future. Among his observations: Sending people away from offices and schools to “home detention centers” doesn’t necessarily make them safer. Collective power comes from meeting together in space and reasoning from personal experience to social understanding, the way ACT-UP activists built their movement and demands. And this: “Prisons are sites where technologies are first tested on captive populations that are later used in hospitals and schools.”

Related: I get into some of the same themes raised by Thrasher on this week’s “The Politics of Everything” podcast, titled The Socially Distanced Protester, which is produced by The New Republic’s Alex Pareene and Laura Marsh.

End times: The perfect mask for the year.

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