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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

After Obama 3.0, What Will 4.0 Look Like? TheAction.org Isn't Waiting for the Answer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 21 2012

What next for the millions of people, tens of thousands of volunteers and several thousand staff who came together to propel Barack Obama to re-election? Will there be a real "outside" Washington strategy to put pressure on recalcitrant Members of Congress? Will they use the massive lists and online presence that were built around the campaign? Organizers of TheAction.org say they aren't waiting for answers to these big questions, but they are mobilizing to tap Obama's post-election, online and off, to try to keep him from compromising on repealing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Read More

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

WeGov

How "We The People," the White House e-Petition Site, Could Help Form a More Perfect Union

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 20 2012

With nearly one million people signing petitions on the White House's "We the People" e-petition site calling for their state to secede from the Union, it's tempting to dismiss the platform as a lightning rod for the most disaffected Americans. But people petitioning the government could also be invited into a new kind of civic dialogue, one that might build on what "We the People" already promises: an official reply from the powers-that-be. Freed from the demands of another election and blessed with some of the smartest technologists in the country, the Obama Administration could use "We the People" to begin the work of constructing a real digital public square, not just another e-Potemkin village. Will they? Read More

Republican Digerati to the Party Establishment: "There You Go Again"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, November 14 2012

Some Republicans feel their brand is battered after 2012. Photo: Flickr/Johnath

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: For several digital strategists in the Republican party, 2012 is a haunting replay of 2008: As they ponder the magnitude of their party’s losses up and down the ballot, they’re casting around looking for leaders outside of the traditional party structure, which has failed them, in their eyes, two presidential election cycles in a row. The problems, they say, are both technological and organizational, the result of a failure to adjust the party platform for a changing America and to adapt an approach to the web for changing times. Veterans among the party's digerati hear the young Republicans who want to seize the levers of power and overhaul their political machine singing a tune that sounds depressingly familiar. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] How Obama’s Foreign Policy Can Be Savvier about Tech and Democratization

BY Phil Howard | Tuesday, November 13 2012

600,000 Georgians Rally for Democracy, Sept 2012 (Photo from http://www.democracyingeorgia.org)

In this op-ed, author Philip Howard looks at recent events in Georgia, Hungary, Myanmar and Venezuela, countries that are all in flux--some moving toward greater democracy, some less. He argues that "the transportable strategy for all four countries—countries that have actually become archetypes for how a country can open up or close down—involves encouraging open Internet access and competitive media environments. These countries are now ideal points of intervention, where a deliberate US response on information policy reform would not only solve problems in those countries. It would send the right signals to the strongmen in neighboring countries." Read More

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

What Role for Obama's Organizers in a Second Term?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 7 2012

Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, Obama 2012 national field directors

Having won re-election in large degree by rebuilding a massive campaign organization, will Barack Obama do anything differently this time in how he relates to that base? There were hints in his victory speech last night that perhaps something might be different this time. Read More

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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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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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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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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