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Using "Big Listening" and "Distributed Campaigning," Upwell Seeks a Sea-Change in Ocean Organizing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 25 2012

Social mentions of "Shark Week" from 2010-present, courtesy Upwell

In this article, we're going to look at Upwell, a nonprofit that describes itself as "a data-driven social media PR agency" with just one client, the ocean, and just one goal: more people talking about the ocean. What it's doing with "big listening" and "distributed campaigning" is pioneering a new kind of online political organizing. Read More

Money in Politics Never Looked So Pretty

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 19 2012

Net Goldman Sachs donations as an organization.

Big-money political donors often give to members of both parties, while small donors are more consistently partisan, according to new visualizations of campaign finance data.

Campaign-finance observers have known this for a while, but there's something more compelling about ... well, about seeing it. And the kind of person who has known for years about who gives and why is not the kind of person this project is trying to reach.

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In Year of Political "Big Data," NationBuilder Makes Voter Data Free

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, September 13 2012

Illustration: Shutterstock

The team at NationBuilder announced Thursday that they were releasing API and limited bulk data access to a nationwide voter file with records on 170 million voters, for free.

"I'm a developer, I've wanted to build off of this data for like a decade and it's just completely impractical because it would just cost a ton of money to bring this together, a ton of time, you wouldn't get access through all the parties, the tools are all partisan," Gilliam said Thursday. "There's no ecosystem around it. And that's really stunted the innovation in the political tech world."

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Twitter Political Index Launches, But Is It Actually Measuring "Voter Sentiment?"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 1 2012

Screen image taken from Twitter blog post

Today, Twitter announced the launch of the "Twitter Political Index" in partnership with the social data analysis firm Topsy and pollsters The Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, and the twittering class swooned. "Twitter Will Gauge Voter Sentiment in New Venture" was the headline at National Journal--never mind the fact that this is neither a measure of voters or of sentiment. Read More

Beyond "Bitter Twitter": Crowd-Photography for the Cyber-Tahrir Square

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 10 2012

If you're following the presidential campaign via Twitter, you know that each side is using the medium to strafe the other. But with the help of powerful network mapping tools, we discovered there's actually a lot more happening in the Twittersphere around those daily diversions. Thanks to connection technologies, people, events and ideas are coalescing in fascinating patterns online. There's a big "Tahrir Square" level of political demonstration underway, and with this post, we start mining the data to spot the communities among the crowds. Read More

[OP-ED]: In Defense of Big Data and Political Ad Targeting

BY Jordan Lieberman and Megan Cellucci | Monday, July 2 2012

Rebutting academic David Parry's suggestion last week that sophisticated online ad targeting is harmful to democracy, the managing director and senior digital strategist at online political advertising firm CampaignGrid write: "Voters have received relevant campaign information for at least a generation. Women often receive mailers about women’s issues, and voters with hunting licenses often receive mailers about a candidate’s position on the Second Amendment and gun control. CampaignGrid has used technology to move to the web activities that have taken place over the phone, through the mail, and – most intrusively – door-to-door, for decades. Assistant Professor Parry fails to connect how online advertising is any better or worse than other forms of sophisticated targeting that have been used for years." Read More

[OP-ED] Big Data: What Happens When Elections Become Social Engineering Competitions

BY David Parry | Tuesday, June 26 2012

Courtesy Estate of John Fekner 2008

UT-Dallas assistant professor David Parry argues that big data and message targeting endangers democracy. Read More

New Media Site Hopes to Provide Data-Driven "News about News"

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 29 2012

It was April 2012 and although Newt Gingrich's presidential aspirations were fading away, his temper had not. He felt he had been treated unfairly and had no problems making that known. Claims like these litter the campaign trail like candy wrappers, the discarded remnants of this or that attempt to control the message of the day. A new site, "The 4th Estate Project," hopes to join initiatives like the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in quantifying the nebulous world of political journalism — where "narratives" drive the news and every poll has a margin of error — and in so doing provide more evidence to support or refute that type of claim. While tracking the tone and tenor of the news in aggregate isn't new, this project's business model is: The project's founders hope to start a media business driven by content a co-founder describes as "news about news." Read More

With Crowdverb, GOP Geek Squad Aims to Match Dems Datum for Datum

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, February 16 2012

Cyrus Krohn is the co-founder of Crowdverb, a sort of Justice League of Republican digital operatives assembled into a new Seattle-based startup in time for the 2012 presidential campaign. The team already lists the super PAC American Crossroads and conservative publishing groupEagle Publishing as clients. Read More

Forget Election Districts, Patchwork Nation Counts Vote Tallies in "Monied 'Burbs" and "Boom Towns"

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 10 2012

Patchwork Nation and WNYC are doing this, taking Patchwork Nation's approach to covering the country — describing each county based on what demographic data says about it as a place — and applying it to the presidential election. Using AP data, Patchwork and WNYC will show election returns in real time as they come in from New Hampshire tonight. The result will frame Romney as something like "popular in the monied 'burbs," which makes more sense and is more useful to someone outside of New Hampshire than, for example, "winning Carroll County." Read More