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Daily Digest: We'll Do It Live!

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, May 21 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • We thought we’d been covering the political technology space pretty well over the last year or so, but a new top-secret project somehow alluded us. Convinced that the conservatives’ deficit in online efficacy simply comes from lacking the right tools, The Trustees of the Republican Leadership Trust (yes, that’s the real name) are working on a secret weapon: the Republican All in One™ Political Suite.™ Beware Democrats! Look out progressives! The TRLT is convinced that their new tool will be the “GOP’s answer to, Act Blue and multiple commercial vendors who provide political technology.” Without giving any details at all about what their Political Suite will look like, the TRLT is asking for pledges of $10 or $25 a month to help take over the world.

  • Technorati’s Jen McLean writes that “Nowhere have we seen a bigger impact of blogging and social media on the American political landscape than on the 2008 presidential election,” and she points to — of course! — techPresident’s Technorati charts two illustrate her point. As we’ve been seeing, Barack Obama has the most attention in the blogosphere, and John McCain has yet to spark up the ‘sphere in the same way. Maybe bloggers will get excited about McCain has we move into the general… but that’s a big maybe. (Technorati Chairman David Sifry is the younger brother of techPrez’ Micah Sifry.)

  • “Everything moves so fast in the world of online politics… that introspection is often lacking,” writes the Washington Post’s Jose Antonio Vargas. So true. Vargas takes a closer look at President Bush’s online-only interview with the Politico. While Bush did answer some questions from citizens, Vargas councils us that “interactivity doesn’t necessarily lead” to transparency and accountability, and thus George Bush’s no-more-golf-after-Iraq claim isn’t exactly true. However, writes Vargas, the two young superdelegates who asked YouTube viewers who to endorse were using interactivity toward better ends. It’s a great point, and Vargas continues to be one of our foremost chroniclers of the “clickocracy.”

  • The DNC’s state blogger credentialing process is on the verge of becoming a fiasco. Marc Ambinder discovered a letter from 21 credentialed state bloggers who are protesting the exclusion of their progressive colleagues from the convention. They allege that some bloggers were chosen for their party loyalty, and not for their progressive bona fides. “The Democratic Party endangers its own long-term viability when it makes fealty a criterion for inclusion,” they write. Matt Stoller calls the credentialing of Cathleen Carrigan, an employee of Michigan Governer Jennifer Granholm “simply absurd… Granholm can get her employees credentials, she doesn’t need to take them from independent progressive activists.” We think it’s about time for some damage control from Howard Dean.

  • Second Life collides with ye olde meatspace: when disrupting an event in Second Life, griefers’ (as SL attackers are known) prefer the classic flying penis trick. Activists watching a speech by former chess master and current Russian politican Garry Kasparov took a cue from virtual life and launched a real flying penis as Kasparov spoke. It stayed in the air for about fives seconds before an enterprising politico smacked it out of the air, like a Russian Dikembe Mutombo.

  • Crack-for-geeks site Lifehacker doesn’t delve in politics, but a recent post announcing Google Earth’s new Google News layer uses a cool screenshot of news of Barack Obama’s huge rally in Portland layered onto Google Earth. Clearly, the possibilities are endless, but does anyone actually use Google Earth once they’ve downloaded it?

  • Check out this new twist on Yes We Can, from tunester Andy Fraser. It’s very, very smooth, kind of like Michael McDonald meets Barry White. One bit of advice, though, Andy: stream the song from your site, don’t make us download it. I guarantee you’ll get more listens, and thus more smoothness for all.

The Candidates on the Web

  • None more black! Todd Zeigler at the Bivings Report picked up on a design change for John McCain’s homepage, and it’s definitely for the better. The McCain camp revised with their initial Darth Vader look about a year ago, but the result was still a confusing clutter. The new refresh, which does away with the typical GOP web template and installs big readable fonts, is much needed. But Zeigler doesn’t “think slapping a new coat of paint on their existing strategy” — of basically ignoring the conversational web — is going to help.

  • Too little, very late: As it patiently trots toward the sunset, the Hillary Clinton campaign is stepping up its blogger outreach and use of Twitter, reports the New York Times’ Katherine Seelye. Perhaps taking a cue from the McCain camp, Clinton held her first blogger conference call last week (Obama has yet to do so), and has been firing off tweets to Twitter followers more frequently. The online conversation she wanted to have with America never really surfaced; we think she’d be in a better spot now if it had.

  • When it comes to governmental use of the web, the Brits are continuing to lap the U.S. The newest example is Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s new initiative, “Ask the PM,” in which the British public can ask him questions via YouTube, and he’ll respond on a regular basis. Seems simple, doesn’t it? In the U.S., we’ll have to first get around those archaic rules barring Congress from even using YouTube. Then we can talk about those conversations.

In Case You Missed It…

We’ll do it live! Check out the video of us editing of this very Daily Digest on! (Warning: many bad jokes ahead.)

John McCain’s online team needs to find someone who knows what they’re doing with the campaign’s email list, writes Michael Whitney. Campaign manager Rick Davis sent an email to supporters this afternoon titled “Reckless” - clocking in at 597 words - without including a single link until the 580th word.

Michael Tate offers a quick assessment of Senator McCain’s “Behind the Scenes” videos on YouTube.

As an effective deployment of a modern media strategy, David All shares a recent example engineered by, among others, the Washington State Republican Party putting the hammer to Barack Obama after what All calls a major gaffe while campaigning in Oregon.

We’re still hard at work finalizing the program for this year’s fifth annual Personal Democracy Forum, which is taking place June 23-24 at Rose Hall in New York City, and we’re pleased to be able to share these updates with you on speakers and panels. Don’t wait til the last minute to register, by the way—the early bird rate is going to expire after May 31 and prices are going up. Save $100 by registering now.

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.


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.


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.