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Daily Digest: Party Hopefuls Vying for Tech Cred

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, January 6 2009

  • Gathering of RNC Candidates Highlights Tech: The half dozen contenders for the post of RNC chairman gathered yesterday for an event that was threaded through with what might fairly be called an obsession with technology. It was webcast live to much fanfare on (which our our Mike Turk calls "a step in the right direction for the GOP"). Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist heartily thanked conservative online hubs Red State and Townhall for their support.'s Mindy Finn and Patrick Ruffini shared moderating duties with Norquist. And the most heated moment of the debate may have come when the candidates battled over the number of Facebook friends they enjoy. RNC hopeful Ken Blackwell bragged about having 4,000 amigos on Facebook, then added, "[but] who's counting?" Righhht. Asked by Finn about their support for Rebuild the Party's 10-point plan (about 31 minutes into the linked video), candidates Mike Duncan and Chip Saltsman paid near fealty. The rest of the field used the question to spotlight their own takes on what faces the party. Saul Anuzis homed in the necessity of "organic organizations," Blackwell stressed the importance of integrating the "e-campaign" with the rest of the RNC's mission, and Michael Steele and Katon Dawson focused their support on the wisdom of the GOP undertaking a 50-state strategy -- with Dawson saying that the fact that he alone hasn't endorsed the plan is due to its "quotas" for how local campaigns should be run. Dial in to an hour and 15 minutes into the debate to catch the display of the candidates scrambling over one another to be crowned the master of all things Twitter. Yep, we watched (nearly) the whole thing, so you don't have to.

  • On Our First Federal CTO: Nope, Not Yet: When we discussed a report in the New York Times yesterday that Barack Obama would finally (cue whiny voice) be naming a Chief Technology Officer this Wednesday, we commented, "we'll see." Well, looks like we won't. Next Gov's Allan Holmes quotes an Obama transition spokesperson calling that report "wrong," adding for clarity, "there is no CTO announcement on Wednesday." The waiting continues. In the meantime, go on and join in on the CTO prediction market our Matt Burton has set up.

  • McCain Said "No" to Announcing VP Via Text or Web: The National Journal's Lucas Grindley adds context to a bit of news broken by the aforementioned Patrick Ruffini. The McCain campaign, reports Ruffini, was presented early on with the idea of announcing its VP pick online or through text messaging. They declined, seeing the approach as "undignified" (Ruffini's words). Grindley quotes Ruffini as calling that decision "just so self-defeating and so illustrative of the problem" facing the GOP. Grindley frames the choice as a retrograde move rooted in the idea that only a television-based rollout of Sarah Palin could deliver the wallop necessary to counter Obama's post-convention bounce -- of a piece with the rest of the McCain campaign, where the former fighter pilot seemed to be flying by instinct, not instruments. That said, McCain would likely have been skewered for the same technical and logistical hiccups that plagued Obama's VP announcement, and his campaign simply didn't have the new media team in place to make much use of the data that an online announcement would have generated.

  • Accounting for the Transition's Funders: The Obama transition has gone down a somewhat different road than Bill Clinton in revealing its donors -- though, of course, the motivations and expectations are entirely different. Clinton posted spotty details on contributors to his foundation on 2,900 different web pages. Meanwhile, Team Obama has disclosed who has ponied up a running total of $3.8 million for the presidential transition using a searchable, easily-navigable (though somewhat pokey) tool called Blist. For what it's worth -- and frankly, it's not all that much, the database reveals how much has been kicked in by big names in the tech world with Obama ties. Google's Eric Schmidt has chipped in $5,000, "father of the Internet" Vint Cerf $2,500, and Apple's Steve Jobs nada. CQ Politics' Emily Cadei has more details on how those donations break down.

  • Stoller Goes Native: Um, we think "holy cow" is the appropriate reaction here. Open Left blogger Matt Stoller, known for being a passionate advocate and agitator, is leaving the blogging world to take a job inside the House of Representatives. The goal, Stoller writes, is to "see how the place works and to help create the space for more progressive policies" -- aimed at closing a "rootsgap" between what the American people want and their leaders deliver.

  • Obama's Twitter Account Appropriated: Now, a Twitter update from Barack Obama that asks followers to take a survey in exchange for five hundred bucks is suspicious enough. But when CNN host Rick Sanchez tweets "i am high on crack right now might not be coming into work today," your spidey sense should probably confirm that something is up. The Twitter accounts of Obama, Sanchez, and handful of other famous folks were compromised yesterday. TechCrunch's Mike Arrington has screen shots and details. How'd it happen? Twitter's Biz Stone blogs that someone "hacked into some of the tools our support team uses to help people do things like edit the email address associated with their Twitter account," meaning, it seems, the whole Twitter system was compromised. Still, given that @barackobama has been silent since election day, it was nice to hear from him again.

  • Consolidation Saves Our Courts: In his annual state of the courts report (pdf), Chief Justice John Roberts has announced that through the consolidation of tech infrastructure focused on efficiency, the federal judiciary is on track to save some $55 million by 2012. "The Judiciary is steeped in history," writes Roberts, "but not tied to the past." (Via Nextgov)

In Case You Missed It...

Nancy Scola asks whether a frank video from Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who is helping with congressional oversight of the financial industry's bailout package and its spending of nearly a trillion dollars, is "endearingly forthright or downright terrifying."

Justin Oberman profiles SMS Sderot, a program that gives followers suggestions on how to show solidarity when the city in southern Israel is the target of a Hamas rocket: "You have: 15 seconds to read Psalm 130. 15 seconds to give to charity 15 seconds to call the UN, the White House, your Senators and Congressman 15 Seconds to pause and pray for the people of Sderot."

And a housekeeping note: at the suggestion of a reader, we've started a single page on techPresident that will keep a running log of the Daily Digest. Bookmark it here.

Got tips, leads, or story ideas for the Daily Digest? Get in touch. Email or contact @techpresident on Twitter.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.


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.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like 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 is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask 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.


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.


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.