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Daily Digest: The Online Cacophony Gets the Vanity Fair Treatment

BY Joshua Levy | Thursday, May 1 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Barack Obama supporters are up in arms over a series of robo-calls placed by Women’s Voices Women Vote, a Democratic GOTV group that includes, among others, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta and OpenLeft’s Mike Lux on its board. Originally reported by Chris Kromm at the site Facing South, the calls went out “to an untold number of North Carolina voters telling them that they need to fill out a registration form before they vote,” and that the calls were targeting “black neighborhoods,” according to TPM Muckraker’s Paul Kiel. The problem is that the registration deadline for the primaries was April 11, causing confusion for many folks and raising the suspicions of Obama activists. The Politico’s Ben Smith points out that the story broke in the blogosphere, with DailyKos diarists accusing the group of deliberating confusing voters to aid Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, WVWV founder Page Gardner writes that this was an honest mistake. Kromm doesn’t buy it. He writes that her statement “in no ways refutes, or even addresses, any of the basic facts put forward by our investigation,” and offers up a bevy of evidence for his case. And North Carolina Attorney General has opened an investigation. You’ll be hearing much more about this.

  • If you haven’t been paying attention to the election (but reading this site?) SlateV has a fun primer, telling you everything you know about the Democrats in seven minutes. It’s all there: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Clinton crying in New Hampshire, Obama wearing Somali headgear, Iowa surprises, etc. Man, this thing has been slogging on…

  • Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott has a fantastic piece on the growing schism in the Democratic party between Clinton and Obama supporters and how it’s playing out online. This quote alone makes it required reading: “Daily Kos dominates the firmament as the Battlestar Galactica of Net-roots activism, an electronic-beehive amalgam of fund-raising machine, bulletin board, crisis center, poll-data aggregator, diary showcase, and collective mood ring that proved its mettle with the Democratic victories in 2006, due in no small part to the Great Orange Satan’s ability to pinpoint winnable races, mobilize donation support, and stoke morale.” Wolcott does a good job of teasing a narrative out of the liberal blogosphere’s cacophony, making it tangible to outsiders and insiders alike. Of course, Wolcott’s narrative is just one of many you can make; it’s quite possible that the splits he emphasizes for dramatic effect will fade away come this fall.

  • Congressional Quarterly has a new March Madness-inspired game that lets the public weigh in on who John McCain should choose as his running mate. In the first round you vote for an unspecified number of candidates (it’s a little clunky), and these will be gradually winnowed down to a winner on May 22. It’s also simply a good way to learn more about the prominent Republicans who are being considered — we hope the CQ staff makes the instructions a bit easier to understand.

  • A new campaign from the Association of Unity Churches International is seeking to turn negative campaigning on its head. “When a negative political ad comes on the TV or radio, mute the sound or change the channel,” suggests Lookforthegood.org. The key is to repeat this affirmation: “I make a positive difference. I look for the good in this situation and respond with love, wisdom and understanding.” Who can attack that?

The Candidates on the Web

  • The MOMocrats blog, disappointed with the last ABC News Democratic debate, asked its readers for questions for Barack Obama and submitted them to the Obama campaign. Today the campaign responded to five of those questions, covering poverty, the credit crisis, torture, child care, and maternity leave. Kudos to the MOMocrats crew for getting this through, and to the Obama campaign for participating (if you don’t have time for the lengthy responses check out Off The Bus’ recap).

  • Blogger jlarson at the progressive blog One Million Strong noticed that the Obama campaign has added a new graphic to its home page showing the total number of delegates for Clinton and Obama and the number needed to win. “I like it because it defines the contest and lets us all know that we are no longer so far from the end,” jlarson writes. Ain’t that the truth. Just for clarity’s sake, it’s helpful to know what the Obama campaign officially thinks the totals are — we’d like to see the Clinton campaign do the same thing.

In Case You Missed It…

Micah Sifry has some quick takes on the three campaigns’ ups and downs in YouTube-land: Will Hillary Clinton’s difficulties finding the rest-stop coffee machine ON button go viral? Judging by the more than 225K views its gotten since last night, the answer is yes. Does anyone want to go “Behind the Scenes” with John McCain? Did Obama’s denounce-and-reject press conference have the Wright stuff?

After weeks of gotchas from the e-paparazzi, which seemed to suggest Web Video is the medium only of the gaffe, Dan Manatt discovers a Web Video exposé that restores faith in the new citizen medium.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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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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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monday >

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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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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