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Daily Digest: The Obama Money Bomb Bombs?

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, April 22 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Furthering the mutual back-scratching tradition of web companies teaming up with mainstream news organizations for election coverage (see Facebook & ABC), MySpace and NBC are joining forces to launch — get ready, and use a booming voice — DECISION08. Among other things, the site displays videos from NBC News, MSNBC.com, and from MySpace users, and links to the profiles of network anchors (the Facebook/ABC site did this too; no offense, but are socnet users really interested in Chuck Todd’s MySpace profile?). From the companies’ point of view, it’s a win-win. The team-up also gives NBC the chance to align themselves with MySpace’s significant voter-engagement stuff, which was deployed so well in the presidential dialogues they produced with MTV. And MySpace becomes “legit,” though it already was kinda legit in our book.

  • Newsweek’s Andrew Romano — who’s quickly become one of the savviest campaign reporters on the trail — has a great post about headline-happy mainstream campaign coverage. Writing about a low-key Obama event, he says, “While Obama chatted about things that, you know, actually matter to people—like how to solve the nurse shortage crisis with a woman recently paralyzed from the waist down—the media types in attendance did everything and anything but listen.” He goes on to say that the national press corps doesn’t see a story unless there’s a potential gaffe involved. “Today’s so lame, there’s just nothing,” one reporter said as he watched Obama talk with a group of voters. Where’s a macaca moment when you need one?

  • MoveOn has been ramping up their efforts to support Barack Obama in the last days before the Pennsylvania primary, asking the public to vote on videos they’ve received for their Obama in 30 Seconds ad contest, most of which are pretty well-produced and funny (see Wired’s Sarah Lai Stirland’s review of her faves).

  • Remember that million-dollar-in-a-minute Obama money bomb we mentioned last week? It was supposed to take place at precisely 1pm ET yesterday, but it looks like the mission wasn’t accomplished. “Because of the overwhelming response, we are encouraging everyone to donate anytime today. All donations will be counted towards the minute,” said a message on An Obama Minute. Hmm, that doesn’t seem right! Meanwhile, the Politico’s Ben Smith discovered that $245,000 came into the Obama site in that minute, which ain’t too shabby, so why not advertise it? Yet the Obama Minute site hasn’t changed since yesterday afternoon. Curious.

  • John Hockenberry, host of the new public radio show The Takeaway, showed up at a random Cabela’s — the hunting, camping, and outdoor gear store — in rural PA and asked shoppers who, if they had to choose, they’d vote for: Obama or Clinton. They overwhelmingly chose Obama. Surprised? We don’t know what to think anymore.

  • Tech news site ChannelWeb polled a bunch of IT execs, developers, academics, and bloggers about their presidential preferences, and while John McCain was favored by most of those polled, the two Democrats combined were more popular. Take two: Surprised? We don’t know what to think anymore.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Mark Weiner of Syracuse.com profiles one Mac Cummings, who started a software and consulting company in his Cornell University dorm room in 1998, and who is now running online finance for Hillary Clinton. Cummings, whose company works with mundane clients like beverage distributors and retailers, initially showed up as an unpaid volunteer for the Clinton campaign after Super Tuesday and what was supposed to be a three-day gig turned into a newly created position of “director of online finance” after the campaign had the epiphany that they needed to use the web to raise money. Cummings sounds like Joe Trippi when he says that “There will not be another presidential election that fails to have the Internet as a major part of the strategy,” though he may have been frustrated about the campaign’s approach. “Right or wrong, (the Clinton campaign) made the determination that their base of supporters was not Internet savvy,” Cummings said. “And the data that I’ve seen tends to back up that assessment.” Wow. Note that, in this piece, the campaign seems to view the web entirely as an ATM; those little people otherwise known as the voters don’t seem to figure so much in their thinking. Also, it’s almost impossible to find an in-depth story about the Clinton web operation because the campaign is so tight-lipped (as are Obama and McCain, most of the time), but here the alumni magazine scored a coup.

  • The YouTubing of politics spreads to the London Mayoral race, where the venerable BBC has invited Londoners to post questions to the candidates. The results start rolling out tonight.

In Case You Missed It…

Patrick Ruffini reports that the use of Twitter as a discovery vehicle for raw political intelligence takes another step today with Election Journal, a project by Republican election watchdog Mike Roman. The site is using Twitter, Flickr, and Google Maps to cover primary election day in Philadelphia, with Twittering correspondents stationed around the city.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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