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Daily Digest | RNC's Tech RFP Returns Nervous Laughter

BY Editors | Monday, March 9 2009

  • A Mirror on Congress: Lessig vs. Conyers Nancy's post on John Conyers' response to Larry Lessig prompted some pushback from the Lessig camp. At issue: H.R. 801, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act -- a bill that Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers has reintroduced for the 11th Congress that would prohibit federal entities from requiring anyone who conducts government-funded research to place a copy of the resulting work in the public domain. Read more.

  • " is Coming: Let's Help Build It." Over in the Open Government Google Group (which you might want to consider joining) Alexis Madrigal admits that the Wired story on open government he's been working on wasn't working: "The actual mode of journalism with its traditional endgoal of a 'finished product' article that tells people how it is wasn't up to the task." So, he figured, hey, what's good for the government is good for the writer, and went open source with the project. Be sure to check out Wired's new How-To Open Government Data wiki, built on MediaWiki. Read more.

  • RNC's Tech RFP Returns Nervous Laughter Michael Steele's Republican National Committee is circulating a Request-for-Proposal (pdf) to rebuild the RNC website. The sketchiness of the document is raising speculation that Chairman Steele is simply going through the motions, having already picked out a consultant for the job -- despite his pledges to pump some oxygen into the party's tech ecosystem with outreach like the recent GOP Tech Summit. Read more.

  • Out: Krohn. In: Van Etten The previously mentioned Republican National Committee RFP highlights who's heading up RNC tech efforts in the wake of Cyrus Krohn's departure. Todd Van Etten, it says, is serving as "Interim Director of Technology and New Media." Van Etten, says the Internets, graduated way back in '06 from the University of Vermont, where he served as secretary of UVM's College Republicans. Big chapter? Read more.

  • Obama: "I Rarely Read Blogs" In an interview on Air Force One, President Obama said that he "rarely" reads blogs. It's not altogether surprising that he's not spending time reading much of anything beyond the morning papers and the policy briefing books his staff gives him. He does, after all, have more than a few things on his plate. But in his answer, there may be some insight into why the professorial Obama has long had a testy relationship with the blogosphere: he finds blogs simplistic. Read more.

  • Conyers: Lessig's Corruption Charge "Crosses the Line" A few days back, Larry Lessig floated the idea that Congressman John Conyers's backing of a certain copyright bill could be explained away by campaign contributions the Michigan Democrat took in from publishers. Lessig tried to soften the charge with the caveat "no one can know what goes on the heart or mind of Congressman Conyers." Accusing someone of "shilling for Big Paper," though, tends to leave a certain taste in the mouth. Not surprisingly, Conyers is not at all pleased. Read more.

  • Free Laws as in Free Beer Nancy takes a second pass at Honda language in the omnibus appropriations bill that shed touched on earlier. Rather, it's not language in the omnibus, but in the committee statement the House Appropriations Committee attached to the bill. Read more.

  • Beckstrom resigns his title, but hopefully not his mission Rod Beckstrom, director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Center, resigned on Friday. He'd held the position for just under a year. Matthew Burton writes he would love for more tech-savvy people to take a direct role in helping their government. Beckstrom was perhaps the most extreme exemplar of this philosophy, making the move from tech entrepreneur and bestselling author to bureaucrat. Hopefully, his time in DC provided a positive example to the tech industry's brightest minds. Read more.

  • A Request to CIO Kundra: Get Bureaucrats Involved in Matthew Burton writes we all have wishes for what Federal CIO Vivek Kundra will do during his term. The item at the top of our list concerns, which Kundra mentioned yesterday to the press. Read more.

  • The Obama Administration is Going to "Listen to Citizens" J. Brooke Aker of Expert Systems offers a guest commentary on how the Obama administration might do a better job of digesting the tens of thousands of public comments that are headed its way as it acts on its promises to make government more participatory. Read more.

  • What LinkedIn's Reorganization and OFA 2.0 Means for Politech Online From Fred Gooltz's user diary. This line in particular stands out: "what Advocacy2.0 needs is fewer internal SocNets and more full-time network weavers. We need human staffers who use a websystem that helps them spread and track the pings and the status of the objects of the conversations." 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.


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.


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.


tuesday >

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.


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.


monday >

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.