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2012 Political Book Buyers Less Polarized Than in 2008

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 16 2012

Detail from Valdis Krebs, 2012 Political Book Network

Every four years, Valdis Krebs, an expert in network analysis, takes a look at the political book-buying habits of Amazon's customers, and performs a bit of data visualization magic. By looking at the data Amazon shares about people who buy books in common, along with the "also-bought" pairings, Krebs produces a network map linking books, and their buyers, into clusters. You can see the moats dividing many Americans into blue and red islands, but also the places where intellectual bridges may exist. (I've included a snippet of the map, but to see the full picture you should go to Krebs' website.) Read More

What Romney's New "No Cameras" Event Policy and Street Protests Have in Common

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 10 2012

Occupy protesters in Chicago in May, a photographer looking on. Photo: Vondereauvisuals

From political fundraisers in the mansions of the wealthy to street protests in lower Manhattan, people in power are pushing back against the spread of digital cameras.

You don't have to spend long on YouTube or Instagram to see that every day, people ratify a social contract that extends the right to record off the streets and into any large gathering. But this makes trouble in politics, and so the campaigns are asking their high-dollar donors to agree to different terms. The same friction between authorities used to having exclusive control of the official record and citizens with a right to document what really happens is taking place in the streets of New York and elsewhere, in confrontations between citizens and police.

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To Spur Donations, Obama Campaign Reminds Donors of What They've Given Already

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 10 2012

Appealing to donors' sense of urgency and their history with the campaign, Barack Obama's re-election effort is sending people on its email list a fundraising ask that includes information on how much they've given in the past — going all the way back to the 2008 campaign. Read More

For the Campaigns, Online Debate Response is All About Mobile

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 3 2012

The Obama and Romney campaigns will be trying to reach supporters through mobile devices tonight to talk about this evening's presidential debate, and for good reason.

Half of all Americans have Internet access through a tablet or a smartphone, according to data released Monday by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group. It doesn't matter whether someone is watching the debate on home television, at a computer or in a bar — there's a fifty-fifty chance that any debate viewer has an Internet-ready second screen.

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[Editorial] Presidential Debates Commission Keeps the Internet Bottled Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 1 2012

Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon during the first televised U.S. presidential debate in 1960.

The American presidential debates are one of the last great institutions of the era of broadcast politics, and arguably the one that has changed the least since the rise of the Internet, despite public demands for greater participation and transparency. With the first head-to-head appearance of President Obama and Governor Romney coming this Wednesday night in Denver, the web is gearing up to join in the conversation. Unfortunately, despite some nice words come out of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the announcement of a "new digital coalition" with AOL, Google and Yahoo! participating, there's no sign that the debates are going to change one iota from their traditional form. Read More

Through Texts and Online Video, Presidential Campaigns Want You To Know -- They're the Job Creators

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, September 17 2012

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continued to criticize each other on Monday regarding their respective relationships with China either on the policy or business fronts, both campaigns kept reaching out to voters and ... Read More

Mitt Romney's Campaign Takes Tech "Parity" With OfA to a Whole New Level

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 10 2012

On Aug. 25, Mitt Romney's campaign announced "Victory Wallet," which allows users who opt in to authorize one-click donations to the campaign going forward. As BuzzFeed and Salon also noted, following the klaxon call of progressive digital activists Jessica Morales and Matt Ortega, the Romney campaign was using copy on that page that is identical to the text used by Obama for America for its very same feature. Read More

Obama for America Offers Volunteers "Trip Planner," A Craigslist for the Campaign

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, September 10 2012

With Election Day less than two months away, the presidential campaigns are focused on their ground games. To help volunteers get to battleground states, the Obama campaign has created Trip Planner. Read More

Answers from Barack Obama's "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 29 2012

So far, President Obama has answered several user-submitted questions posed to him in the last 45 minutes on Reddit. Supporters of Internet Freedom, the space program and campaign finance reform should like what he's said. English grammar teachers, not so much. Apparently he doesn't like capitalization. Here's some of what he's said so far. Read More

The Ultimate AMA: Barack Obama To Do Q&A With Reddit Today

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 29 2012

Barack Obama's verification photo, proving that he's involved in an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit Wednesday.

Reddit users will get to "ask anything" of the leader of the free world this afternoon, according to an announcement on the site. Read More

News Briefs

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Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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