The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: July 2015

Game Over, Boston 2024

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Today’s Boston Globe was covered with the headline “GAME OVER”. It’s official, Boston 2024 is dead in the water. Financial backing was the straw that broke the Camel’s back; the USOC wanted the city to cover cost overruns and revenue shortfalls, and Mayor Walsh did the right thing by walking away. There’s been strong opposition to Boston 2024, ever since the Olympic bid became public knowledge. Potential costs to taxpayers, disruption, and a fundamental lack of transparency behind the planning and bidding all factored in to the unwelcome public reception. A few weeks ago, we asked our supporters for their opinions on the Olympic bid. The responses were overwhelmingly opposed, and evenly split between “No”, and “Hell No”. Some of the reasons given for opposing the Olympics were: An eminently overabundant and overzealous police presence (Watertown, anyone?) Traffic, traffic, and traffic. No disrespect intended to the bovine civil engineers who designed Boston’s roadways, but our traffic congestion needs no elaboration. We have bigger problems and higher priorities: housing, infrastructure, schools, and public transit (Anyone remember riding the MBTA in Jan – Feb 2015. Or should I say, anyone remember not riding the MBTA in January and February?) The lack of openness around the planning process. Where’s the transparency? Cost. Admittedly, anytime I hear the words “Boston” and “large development project”, my mind immediately jumps to the Big Dig, and hours spent sitting in construction on I-93. Congratulations everyone, we did it. Boston’s a pretty cool city, and we don’t need the Olympic games to prove it.

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Pirate Picnic, Aug. 2nd, Georges Island

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The annual Pirate Picnic will be Sunday, August 2nd, on Georges Island in Boston Harbor. It is our annual strategy social. It is a potluck and there are grills where we will be. Everyone is welcome to attend. The island is a great place to explore and fun for kids. If you plan to attend, please tell us at our PiratePad as well as what food/drink you plan to bring. We will leave on the noon ferry which departs from Long Wharf in Boston near the New England Aquarium. You can purchase tickets on-line. Hope you can make it and please invite your friends. Directions: Get off the ferry Take the path on the left around the island in a clockwise fashion Go past the anchor on your left and the white tent on the right. We will be around the group of trees on the left side of the path before the road forks. and a map: View Mass Pirates Places of Interest in a larger map Georges Island image used on the front page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Thanks to Haunted North America for making it available.

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Cryptoparty this Wednesday, July 22nd, Somerville

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Halley Murray, our PR/Media Director, will again run a cryptoparty in Somerville this Wednesday, July 22nd. It will be from 6-9pm at Parts and Crafts, 577 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143. Come down and get some help setting up software to make your communications private. See you then!

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Help improve our public records laws today

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Massachusetts took a step closer to improving its public records law when the Judiciary Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight reported favorably on H.3665 (An Act to improve public records). The bill next goes to the committee on House Ways and Means and we need your help in making sure it passes. Massachusetts’ public records laws rank 39th and received an F in the Center for Public Integrity’s rankings. As Common Cause notes, this bill would: Allow courts to award attorney’s fees when agencies block access to public information, giving “teeth” to enforcement and promoting compliance with the law and bringing our laws up to the standards of most other states; Make records affordable, with only nominal costs that aren’t large enough to actually inhibit access; Promote electronic distribution of public records, and make more public documents available online; Designate “records access officers” in government agencies, streamlining the access process and reducing bureaucratic complexity by assigning responsibility for answering requests. The ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, MA Newspaper Publishers Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition have done great work advocating for this bill, but we need to help them get this bill passed. Take a moment and tell your state representative and senator that they need to pass this bill.  Those who oppose greater government transparency and accountability are trying to kill this bill.  We have to stop them! Thank you.

published under Main Topic, Transparency | 1 Comment

David and Goliath Hackathon: Thanks!

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Thanks to everyone who participated in the MAAPL hackathon. It was great to see eleven people turn out to help restore dignity and control to people who have been illegally foreclosed on. We have more to do and there will likely be at least another hackathon in the near future, but we have gone far in challenging the theft of people’s homes by the banksters. Thanks!

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David and Goliath Hackathon: Fight against Predatory Lending, Sat., 7/18, 11am-2pm, Stone Soup Worcester

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Event: The David and Goliath Hackathon: Fight against Predatory Lending For: MAAPL ,The Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending Who: Anybody with Computer Word processing skills or programming skills (See details below) When: July 18th from 11am to 2pm Where: Stone Soup, 4 King St., Worcester, 01610 ( maps below) Details: Participants will help MAAPL build their website that will be used to defend Massachusetts’  families against illegal foreclosure. Participants with word processing skills will help build content by uploading documents or transferring content from the old MAAPL website. Participants with programming skills will help in the design and creation of  web forms and SQL procedures. Please email or call 508-630-1686 to join us! Your three hours of participation may literally save a family from losing their home. Sponsored by: The Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending, Worcester Unemployment Action Group, Massachusetts Pirate Party Maps: Open Street Map Google Map

published under Civil Liberties, Economy, Main Topic | 1 Comment

Amazon, the ALA, and the Pay-Per-Page Model

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Amazon recently announced a new business model for ebooks. Essentially, they’re planning to sell books by the page. It’s an interesting business model, and I suspect that there’ll be much written about its effects on authors and author income. However, I’d like to spend some time thinking about their business model from the perspectives of systems design, privacy, and the general freedom to read and learn. This is more a reader-centric (or consumer-centric) point of view, but there are lots of digital consumers out there, so I think these views are worth discussing. Let’s start with the basic business requirements. As I see it, there are two: (1) users will be charged for each page that they read (i.e., turning to a new page in a book is a chargeable event), and (2) users will be charged at most once per page. To fulfill the first requirement, Amazon needs to know what book you’re reading (you must have licensed it from Amazon), they need to know who you are (you needed an Amazon account in order to license the book), and they need to know whenever you turn the page. It’s easy to model this type of record keeping in the pen and paper world: picture a sheet of paper with your name written across the top, along with the title of the book you’re reading. Below your name and the book title are a series of numbered checkboxes, one for each page in the book. Each time you turn to a new page, check off the box with the corresponding page number. When you’re done reading, put the paper away for safe keeping, until you pick the book up again. As an exercise, try doing this the next time you read a book or magazine. Write down every page … Read more

published under Privacy | Comments Off on Amazon, the ALA, and the Pay-Per-Page Model

Tech Hackathon/Skillshare, July 11th

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We will hold a tech hackathon/skillshare on Saturday, July 11th from 10am to 1pm. It will focus on teaching supporters to use CiviCRM, the blog and our other organizing tools as well as adding functionality to them. If you have skills with CiviCRM, web design or are just interested, join us. It will be at Encuentro 5, 9A Hamilton Place, Boston near the Park Street MBTA station. Directions are available. We would appreciate if you register in advance, but it isn’t required. We have several more events coming up: Saturday, July 18th we are joining with the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending and the Worcester Unemployment Action Group to work on a website that people can use to fight their illegal foreclosure.  It will be at Stone Soup in Worcester. Sunday, August 2nd will be our Pirate Picnic on Georges Island in Boston Harbor.  Email us at if you want to help organize it. August we are organizing a hackathon to come up with a way to easily map the locations of surveillance cameras in Massachusetts.  We are looking at using Open Street View.  If you are interested in helping with it, especially with finding a location for the hackathon, email us at Also in August, we are working on holding a cryptoparty possibly at the Worcester Public Library.  Email us at if you want to help. We will table at Freedom Rally for the fifth time in a row on September 26th and 27th. Tens of thousands of people attend every year. Please sign up if you can help us table.

published under Main Topic, Organizing | Comments Off on Tech Hackathon/Skillshare, July 11th

IRC meetings moving to Mondays, 9-10pm

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To better accommodate the schedule of Pirate Council members we are moving the IRC meetings to Mondays, 9-10pm. We will not have a meeting tonight (Thursday), but will instead start the new schedule this Monday, July 6th. Have a great Independence Day!

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Further information

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IRC Meetings Wednesday Night

The Mass. Pirate Party weekly chat is every Wednesday at 9pm, Eastern time. To get on:

  1. Go to
  2. Fill out the web form with the Nickname of your choice and enter #masspirates in the Channel box next to it, then click the Connect button
  3. Start typing and reading

You can also connect via your IRC client at one of the servers listed at

Contact us

call / txt: (617) 863-6277 (MAPP)

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