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Did That Really Happen? A 2012 Tech-Politics News Quiz

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, December 17 2012

It's Friday afternoon and some folks think the world is supposed to end today, so we thought, while we wait for the apocalypse, why not make it fun to relive the highlights of the last year? What really did or didn't happen in the world of tech-politics last year? This quiz covers the hard questions. So, for your pleasure and amusement, try to match your wits against ours. No cheating. Answers at the bottom of the post. Read More

Romney Campaign Digital Director: Online Efforts Enjoyed Success

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, December 12 2012

In a blog post, Zac Moffatt wrote that just because the Romney campaign lost the election doesn't mean its digital efforts were not successful. Read More

Presidential Campaign 2012, By the Numbers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 26 2012

While not all of the numbers are in yet, we thought it would be useful to put in one place all the relevant data currently available about online and offline engagement by the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. Some of these factoids are essentially unverifiable, but represent the claims being made by the campaigns in press reports. Others are drawn from available social network profiles and/or contemporaneous Google searches. Read More

Republican Digerati to the Party Establishment: "There You Go Again"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, November 14 2012

Some Republicans feel their brand is battered after 2012. Photo: Flickr/Johnath

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: For several digital strategists in the Republican party, 2012 is a haunting replay of 2008: As they ponder the magnitude of their party’s losses up and down the ballot, they’re casting around looking for leaders outside of the traditional party structure, which has failed them, in their eyes, two presidential election cycles in a row. The problems, they say, are both technological and organizational, the result of a failure to adjust the party platform for a changing America and to adapt an approach to the web for changing times. Veterans among the party's digerati hear the young Republicans who want to seize the levers of power and overhaul their political machine singing a tune that sounds depressingly familiar. Read More

For Romney's Digital Campaign, a Second-Place Finish

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, November 7 2012

At every phase of the campaign, Mitt Romney's digital operation was half a step behind the technological savvy of Barack Obama's online team — at several moments, announcing features or ideas hours, days or months after the Obama campaign had already rolled them out. Read More

The Rise and Fall of Social Media in American Politics (And How it May Rise Again)

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 6 2012

Four years ago for us here techPresident, Election Day was a moment to reflect on the Internet's impact on the campaign, and in particular how so many voters had ventured onto the playing field of politics by using new interactive media, self-publishing tools like blogs and YouTube, and nascent social networks like Facebook. But if you've spent any time reading techPresident this cycle, you've noticed that we've more or less stopped paying close attention to social media metrics. The reason is, they didn't make a difference to the race. The question is why. Read More

Democrats Hope To Outorganize Republicans In GOTV Smartphone War

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, November 5 2012

As expected, President Obama's campaign will also rely on a smartphone system to enable volunteers to monitor who's showing up at the polls in battleground states. Read More

If Obama Wins on Tuesday, Give the Nerds More Credit

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 5 2012

While Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, math nerd and poll-meister supreme, has gotten a tremendous amount of attention of late for his confident prediction of an Obama victory in tomorrow's election, the largely unwritten story of 2012 includes a different group of math nerds who specialize in figuring out which voters might be persuaded to vote for their candidate and then making sure that they maximize the number of people who actually come out to vote that way. We know very little about their work for two big reasons. First, neither campaign has wanted to tip off their opponent to what they're doing, and second, with just a few rare exceptions, political reporters and their story-assignment editors aren't even looking to find out. But tomorrow is the biggest test yet for their analytic approach to targeting, persuading and turning out voters. Read More

As Election Nears, Mormon Democrats a Newly Significant Voice Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 5 2012

No matter who wins the election Tuesday, the campaign has helped establish an online voice for a population with a unique perspective in this election -- self-described Mormon Democrats and supporters of Obama. Read More

News Briefs

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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.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us 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 Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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