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First POST: Lines

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, November 29 2011

The new map of Massachusetts legislative districts that contributed to Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass) decision not to seek re-election next year. Source: Massachusetts State Legislature
  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) apologized on behalf of his staff for their reaction to the Twitter scorn of a Kansas teenager, 18-year-old Democrat Emma Sullivan:

    “My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize,” Brownback said in a statement posted on his Facebook page Monday. “Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”

    Officials with the Shawnee Mission school district also said Emma Sullivan would not be disciplined or required to write a letter of apology for the tweet, which she posted during a school trip to Topeka last week.

    Another gem picked up by the Wichita Eagle: The Shawnee Mission school district said in a written statement that "the issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media."

  • Social theorist Nathan Jurgenson explores Occupy Wall Street's use of sound, from the mic check — see also techPresident on Nov. 17 — to UC Davis protesters' silent treatment of Chancellor Linda Katehi after campus police deployed pepper spray against Occupy members there:

    It has been fascinating to witness the politics of sound deployed by and against the Occupy movement. As I write, there is some confusion about what the movement will become as the weather gets colder and cities less welcoming. The question might be restated: What might happen if the movement becomes silent? What if there is nothing for authorities, protesters and the rest of us to hear? The role of sound as a technology of protest has been too important for the Occupy movement to move forward on mute.

  • A new memo from President Barack Obama directs agencies to come up with a plan for improving or maintaining records management "particularly with respect to managing electronic records, including email and social media, deploying cloud based services or storage solutions," among other things.

  • Herman Cain not only wound up pre-emptively denying allegations of a 13-year affair with an Atlanta, Ga. businesswoman, he bought Google search ads against that woman's name.

  • A new batch of White House visitor logs were released last night.

  • Off-topic but of interest to techPresident: all that dreck you embed in your site to count visitors and serve ads to them is ruining the user experience you offer. Technology Review covers some of the worst performance hogs.

  • NextGov's inquisitive Joseph Marks analyzes petitions on the White House's We the People e-petitioning platform and finds that only 8 percent of petitions he could review dealt with tax reform, economic reform or housing:

    Only one petition as of Nov. 14 addressed the mortgage crisis. It has since been removed from the site and archived after garnering barely 1,000 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response. Some petitioners have taken a lesson from Congress, tacking on the phrase "and create jobs" at the end of petitions largely unrelated to job creation. There are no petitions, though, that directly address the high level of U.S. unemployment.

  • Clay Johnson's new book, "The Information Diet," is scheduled for release in January. He tells O'Reilly Radar:

    ... We don't suffer from information overload — we suffer from information overconsumption and poor consumption habits. The solution is just as simple as a successful food diet. It's about building habits and healthy choices for yourself, and sticking to it.

  • Preliminary plans for members of the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral international transparency initiative, are expected to debut in December at a meeting in Brasilia.

  • Microsoft Research New England is looking for social science Ph.D students to study social media, danah boyd writes:

    Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for PhD interns to join the social media collective for Spring and Summer 2012. For these positions, we are looking primarily for social science PhD students (including communications, sociology, anthropology, media studies, information studies, etc.). The Social Media Collective is a collection of scholars at MSRNE who focus on socio-technical questions, primarily from a social science perspective. We are not an applied program; rather, we work on critical research questions that are important to the future of social science scholarship.

  • The New York Times wonders why the Supreme Court consistently refuses to allow cameras in courts:

    Justice Elena Kagan, the member of the court who has been most outspoken about the value of television coverage, recently recalled what it was like to see Supreme Court arguments before she joined the court.

    “Everybody was so prepared, so smart, so obviously deeply concerned about getting to the right answer,” she said at the Aspen Institute in August. “I thought if everybody could see this, it would make people feel so good about this branch of government and how it’s operating. And I thought it’s such a shame actually that only 200 people a day can get to see it.”

    There will probably be just 50 seats available to the public at the arguments in the health care case. People hoping for a shot at one of them will probably wait in line in the cold for two nights or longer. Forcing citizens to endure that sort of hardship for a chance to see their government at work would seem to require a substantial justification.

  • In Venezuela, allegations that pro-government agents are hacking and owning the Twitter accounts of longstanding members of that country's political opposition.

  • Foreign Policy presents the Twitterati of 2011.

(With Miranda Neubauer)

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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.