Giving up Texting for Lent?

How could you not love this story out of Rome?

Apparently, Italians have taken up a papal call (released on YouTube, ironically) not to replace “virtual friendships with real human interaction” and have decided to give up texting for Lent. Traditionally, Catholics have given up something like sweets or alcohol for the 40 days preceding Easter, but this is definitely bringing the church into (or out of) the 21st century.

Minister of Digital Engagement: U.K. CTO?

Hey, Jeff Jarvis brings to light a job ad:

• Develop a strategy and implementation plan for extending digital engagement across Government

• Work with communication, policy and delivery officials in Government departments to embed digital engagement in the day to day working of Government

• Work with Directors of Communication to ensure that digital media are included in the reporting of reaction to Government policy and initiatives


Vivek Kundra May Be Obama's choice for OMB e-Gov Head

Hey, this would be really good news; he's been doing amazing work for the city of Washington. His stuff uses ’net tech for local customer service, and we need that everywhere. (I've seen it firsthand, and it’s not easy to impress me that much.)

Here's more:

The Obama administration plans to announce it has appointed Vivek Kundra, the District of Columbia's chief technology officer, to take the top information technology post in the federal government, according to a source.

A New Home for Hillaryites

Never say never.

Madam Secretary — Hillary Clinton herself — who as head of the State Department is no longer permitted to engage in political activity on behalf of herself or anyone else, has a new entity online. While she had to close up her political action committee, Clinton allies have created a place where her supporters can gather and check up on Hillary.

Go to, which will "keep you up to date with news about issues on which Hillary took a lead and we know you care so much about," Ann Lewis, the group's president, said in the announcement to an e-mail list of campaign supporters.
Read More... and the National Day of Service

Barack Obama epitomizes a new spirit of service, to the country, to each other. His presidency, the day before Inauguration, Martin Luther King Day, is a national call to service. This combines traditional public service, including military and Peace Corps, with volunteerism, a sort of craigslist for service. That is, service is top-down and also grassroots.

If you're reading this, you get the idea. What's new is that the incipient administration is getting its act together on this.

Vote to Establish a ‘Global Challenges Wikipedia’

President Obama is going to inherit the most daunting set of challenges since FDR. There are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in a bloody confrontation. The global economy is in a shambles.

It's not a pretty picture, and it's not certain how he's going to tackle all of these issues. What is certain, however, is that he can't come up with all the answers himself, as much as people might think that he can. That's why he's making sincere efforts to engage the American people to be proactive and help him generate solutions: "I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again," he has declared.

Online Government Customer Service in the UK:

Fix My Street is a British effort similar to 311 in New York City and San Francisco. The deal is that you see a problem, maybe a pothole, and you can report it to local government so they can fix it.

Even better, they have an iPhone application, with more smartphones to follow. You see a problem, take a photo with your phone, and upload the report immediately.