September 8, 2010, REDWOOD CITY, Calif., and WASHINGTON — Omidyar Network today announced a planned grant of up to $1.5M to Herdict, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Herdict is a crowdsourcing platform that allows individuals to contribute real-time data about website accessibility and outages around the globe. Stacy Donohue, Omidyar Network director of investments for government transparency, made the announcement during a presentation at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington D.C. The grant will be used to build Herdict into a standalone nonprofit organization and to recruit a CEO. Additionally, Donohue will join Herdict’s board of directors.
Herdict is the brainchild of Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center, and was launched in 2009 under his direction. The platform’s name is derived from blending ‘herd’ and ‘verdict.’ Herdict enables Internet users to report web outages and website inaccessibility through the Herdict website, an Internet Explorer or Firefox add-on, or Twitter. The crowdsourced assessment of real-time experiences informs potential reasons for the outages and inaccessible websites. Herdict can be used in five languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian and Russian – and has received reports from nearly every country around the world. Users of Herdict’s data include website operators, activists, journalists, researchers and government agencies that are active in international Internet freedom initiatives.
“Government transparency requires accessible information, which depends on an open, free Internet. Herdict is a powerful tool that exposes regimes intent on preventing citizen access to certain sites,” said Donohue. “Herdict fits strategically within Omidyar Network’s Government Transparency investment area; the platform enables monitoring of open information and communication, both essential ingredients for healthy democratic governments in the 21st Century.”
About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever‐growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $363 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, consumer internet, mobile and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.