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If American Politics Were a Team Sport, Would It Be Any Nicer?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, April 25 2012

In a country where someone is nearly as likely to play fantasy sports online as they are to follow the national elections, maybe one way to increase participation in elections is to bridge the two. At least, that's the idea that MTV, Politifact, the Center for Responsive Politics, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others are pursuing: A $250,000 Knight grant is the principal money behind a project, supposed to go into beta in July, that will turn the elections into a fantasy sports game. Users will arrange candidates into "teams," according to a press release, and individual candidates will be scored based on publicly available data about the truth or mendacity of their public statements (Politifact); their political disclosures (CRP); polling performance (RealClearPolitics); willingness to fill out a candidate questionnaire (Project Vote Smart); their political ads (Wesleyan Media Project); and Facebook and Twitter use. Players, MTV announces, will also rack up points for using Foursquare to check in to town-hall events or political debates. They can also get points by starting the voter registration process through Rock the Vote. Read More

The Game: How Campaigns' New Obsession With Social Media is Hurting America

BY Nick Judd | Monday, January 9 2012

The thing about attaching numbers to people's names is that it usually makes them want to make the number go up. Call it gamification if you want. The truth is that it's human nature, and as more people pay attention to social media, it is creating a sort of downward behavioral spiral. Candidates wanting more points on the social media scoreboard are urging supporters to tweet and post to Facebook on their behalf — spreading borderline spam on social networks and doing nothing to make the campaign season less of a horse race when that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Read More

New Obama for America Page is a Jungle Gym for Donation Data

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, October 20 2011

Source: Barackobama.com Obama for America has released a website for users to explore data about the campaign's donor base, in order to celebrate, per the campaign, their one-millionth donor. The application allows users ... 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.

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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.

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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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