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The Obama Campaign's Legacy: Listen, Experiment, and Analyze Everything

BY Nick Judd and Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 21 2012

Photo: Torbakhopper / Flickr

The big story of the 2012 Obama campaign was not just that staffers were able to weave together information about voters using data integration in ways that had bedeviled the campaign in 2008. Nor was it the campaign’s ability to test nearly every tactic, from email subject lines and landing pages to the scripts that volunteers read from as they went door to door. If any one engine powered the campaign down its road to victory, it was the system that turned every voter, field staffer and grassroots volunteer into a political signal — and the mix of technology and analysis that allowed Obama’s Chicago headquarters to find those signals among all the noise. Read More

A Computer Made These Eerily Human Portraits From the Last Presidential Debate

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 16 2012

Among the millions of eyes expected to turn to tonight's presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be the cycloptic gaze of a single mechanical painter, a computer placed in front of a television set with the job of sketching what it sees like a courtroom artist. The tools of its trade are "particle brushes," programs repurposed from an earlier life helping to draw explosions in video games.

"It's not really a robot artist but this is basically a computer and it takes those brushes and tries to render the image," explained Don Relyea, the computer programmer, artist and designer whose automated creation is expected to watch the debates tonight. It was at work painting the last debate, and Relyea has released a complete set of eerily human portraits from that night created without any human intervention.

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The SEIU's New Tool to Influence Post-Debate Conversation

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, October 15 2012

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The SEIU had been testing social media analytics tool Attentive.ly for a few months, but was able to fully test its functionality for the first time during the last presidential debate. The union plans to use it again during the upcoming debate to identify potential advocates to reach out to with a targeted email campaign. Read More

For Members of Congress, Ryan's VP Nomination Raises a Tweet Dilemma

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 16 2012

Various tweets by House members reacting to Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee may have violated Congressional rules, the Sunlight Foundation* reports. Read More

Barack Obama's "Story of Us," Told Through a Computer Screen

BY Nick Judd | Friday, February 10 2012

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the day Barack Obama first announced his candidacy for presidency of the United States, his campaign has released this video, which has some stylistic similarities to Google's unfailingly optimistic ad spots in the same way many videos in this election season so far have resembled action movie trailers. Read More

Postcards for Obama

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 24 2012

The Obama campaign has released a new app that lets supporters sign their friends up for physical mail from the president's re-election effort. Politico's Byron Tau spotted it first.

This is the latest use of the web to revamp what is in reality a years-old campaign practice. Postcards from friends on a campaign's behalf have been a tool in the toolkit for years, and there are riffs on this idea that involve even more high tech.

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Inside Mitt Romney's Digital Mind

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 19 2012

From the rise of voters who can only be reached online to increased use of mobile devices and social media, Zac Moffatt recently spoke to Atlantic correspondent Nancy Scola about what it's like running digital for the campaign that now seems poised to confront Barack Obama for the presidency. Read More

Obama Occupies the Union-Leader

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 10 2012

Barack Obama's re-election campaign has bought several ad spots on the homepage of the New Hampshire Union-Leader's website today, just as it did on the day of the Iowa caucus. Read More

Obama for America is Still Hiring Geeks

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 5 2012

Obama for America is hiring a senior development operations engineer, the kind of person who will "design robust, scalable systems for our web applications" and "support the campaign’s efforts to inform voters, organize supporters and raise money." Among the requirements: Must love Linux. Read More

Buddy Roemer's Online Gamble

BY Nick Judd and Raphael Majma | Thursday, January 5 2012

Little-known Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer is banking on a digital presence to stay relevant. He's using most of his budget on digital ads, and asks Twitter users to "donate" their accounts to his campaign. Mashable quotes 140elect's Zach Green as saying that 121 people donated their accounts, reaching 62,664 followers. To gear up for the upcoming primary, the Roemer team has bought a week's worth of Facebook ads in New Hampshire, Mashable reports. Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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