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First POST: Twitterization

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The download on Peter Hamby's must-read report on Twitter's impact on 2012 campaign coverage; Jeff Bezos gives some clues to his plans for the Washington Post; Ethan Zuckerman thinks citizen science could help reduce NIMBYism; and much, much more. Read More

Presidential Campaign 2012, By the Numbers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 26 2012

While not all of the numbers are in yet, we thought it would be useful to put in one place all the relevant data currently available about online and offline engagement by the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. Some of these factoids are essentially unverifiable, but represent the claims being made by the campaigns in press reports. Others are drawn from available social network profiles and/or contemporaneous Google searches. Read More

What Advocacy Campaigns Can Learn From the 2012 Presidential Race

BY Shayna Englin | Friday, November 16 2012

Shayna Englin is chief advocacy officer for Fission Strategy. She spoke last June at Personal Democracy Forum on "The Advocacy Gap." In this "Backchannel" piece, she highlights three key take-aways for advocacy organizations from the 2012 presidential campaigns.

BackChannel an ongoing series of guest posts from practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics that, taken in aggregate, form a running conversation about the future of campaigns and government.

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Obama Puts a Ring On It

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 12 2012

Now that the election is over, all kinds of inside stories are starting to work their way out of the tightly controlled Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. Here, in a video taken last August during a visit President Obama paid to his staff, but just uploaded Saturday, two young staffers, Sara El-Amine (the campaign's national training director) and Matthew Saniie, tell the President how they had gotten engaged during the campaign. It's impossible not to enjoy. We especially liked Obama's instant familiarity with Beyonce, and thought we'd commemorate it for all time with a few .gifs. Read More

Obama and His Organizers: An Emotional Farewell, or More to Come?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, November 8 2012

A new video from the Obama campaign showing the President letting his guard down and talking openly with his campaign staff in Chicago is taking off on YouTube. It's reminiscent of a similar talk he gave to his team in June 2008, and raises questions about where he may thinking of taking his movement and presidency next. Read More

If Obama Wins on Tuesday, Give the Nerds More Credit

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 5 2012

While Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, math nerd and poll-meister supreme, has gotten a tremendous amount of attention of late for his confident prediction of an Obama victory in tomorrow's election, the largely unwritten story of 2012 includes a different group of math nerds who specialize in figuring out which voters might be persuaded to vote for their candidate and then making sure that they maximize the number of people who actually come out to vote that way. We know very little about their work for two big reasons. First, neither campaign has wanted to tip off their opponent to what they're doing, and second, with just a few rare exceptions, political reporters and their story-assignment editors aren't even looking to find out. But tomorrow is the biggest test yet for their analytic approach to targeting, persuading and turning out voters. Read More

Who's Winning the YouTube War, Obama or Romney?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 24 2012

Obama Denver rally live on YouTube, October 24, 2012

While the presidential campaign appears to have tightened in the polls, in the last month Barack Obama has been trouncing Mitt Romney on YouTube, garnering nearly five times as many views overall. Here's how the two campaigns' strategies with online video differ, and why it matters. Read More

The Great Voter Tune-Out of 2012

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 21 2012

Youth voter turnout, 2012 vs 2008 primaries (courtesy Jason Rzepka)

Micah Sifry writes: It's the "'meh'-ing" of the president, says Roger Simon. "The 2012 campaign is the smallest ever," says another headline in Politico. All over the political landscape, signs abound of a dismal political season.

Now the Pew Research Center For the People & The Press is out with a meaty new survey that confirms that voter engagement with the 2012 election is down compared to the campaign of 2008. Last time around, at this point in the race, 63% of registered voters polled said they were "more interested" in the election than previously; that's now dropped to just 48% saying they're more interested than four years ago. That is, one is six registered voters have tuned DOWN their interest in the presidential battle compared to four years ago. Read More

Obama Loves You Back

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 16 2012

We don't think it's a coincidence that just days after the site ObamaLovesYouBack.com appeared online, the Obama '12 team sent out an email from Michele Obama titled "I Love You Back" and reading: Dear _____ I see this ... Read More

From Cat Videos to Campaign Coverage: AJR on BuzzFeed

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 25 2012

The American Journalism Review took a closer look at how former Politico writer Ben Smith is growing the news aggregation site BuzzFeed. He joined the site as editor-in-chief last month. As AJR reports, he has been shifting the site's focus more towards original content and hiring new staff members, with coverage of the 2012 election campaign playing a key role.

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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