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How the White House's We the People E-Petition Site Became a Virtual Ghost-Town

BY Dave Karpf | Friday, June 20 2014

The White House once boasted that 5.4 million people have created We The People accounts, resulting in 9.2 million signatures. But the statistic only shows that there are less than 2 signatures per person, which means that the average user is signing a single petition and then never returning again. David Karpf explains how and why the White House's e-petition site has failed to take off. Read More

First POST: Rumblings

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, May 30 2014

Edward Snowden and the NSA duke it out; Google pushed for improvements in the USA Freedom Act; tech moguls come out as backers of Lawrence Lessig's SuperPAC; and much, much more Read More

First POST: Hashing it Out

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, May 27 2014

How the #YesAllWomen hashtag erupted in response to the Santa Barbara killings; the Internet's broken business model; why tech companies are (mostly) losing in Congress; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Incentives

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, December 10 2013

HealthCare.gov has turned the corner; David Karpf asks if Change.org is watering down its issues as its gains users; and everyone is worrying when the great Facebook News Feed crash will come; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Profanity

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 31 2013

The Washington Post exposes the NSA's hacking of Google and Yahoo; the US promises, yet again, to overhaul its FOIA administration; the states start to pass their own new privacy laws; and much, much more. Read More

You Can't A/B Test Your Response to Syria

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Senate hearing Sept 3, 2013. Department of Defense Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton.

While Congress wrestles with President Obama's unexpected request for formal legal authorization before he orders airstrikes on Syria, it's been fascinating to watch the country's big online advocacy groups try to figure out their own position on the crisis. Should the US bomb Syria in order to punish Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people, risking a wider American involvement in the conflict and potentially further destabilizing the region? Or should the US stay out of that kind of direct involvement, even if that risks emboldening Assad and could lead to more frequent uses of chemical weapons in the future? These are just some of the hard questions at stake. And what makes any decision even harder is the fast-moving and relatively unique nature of these events. Even tougher for big e-groups like MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which collectively claim about ten million list members, the Syria crisis isn't an issue that these groups were formed to address. Nor is there an obvious consensus "progressive" position to promote, beyond the one these groups were all touting in the last few weeks (along with many others, including some conservative organizations), which was the need to bring the question before Congress. Some people are strong anti-interventionists, wary of green-lighting another American incursion in the Middle East. Others worry about genocide, and don't want to look the other way when mass killings of civilians take place. Read More

MoveOn.org Endorses Silicon Valley Incumbent Mike Honda

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, August 12 2013

MoveOn Political Action announced Monday that its members have endorsed Silicon Valley's incumbent Democrat Mike Honda. Read More

How "Big Data" And Behavioral Science Powered Progressive Groups in 2012

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Saturday, November 10 2012

An October canvas in Richmond, ViA. Photo: Flickr/AFL-CIO

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The Obama campaign wasn't the only center of data-driven, technology-enabled field work on the left. Groups like MoveOn and the AFL-CIO's super PAC, Worker's Voice, also used the Internet to leverage their understanding of behavioral psychology and user-generated content into a massively scaled persuasion and get-out-the-vote effort. Read More

Was Darcy Burner's Primary Loss a Sign of a Declining Netroots?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, August 9 2012

As Cyndi Lauper once sang: "Money changes everything."

That's something that everyone can agree on in American politics, but that's about the extent of the agreement. The question is whether the trend in self-financing wealthy candidates and Super PACs is dampening the enthusiasm of the American left this election cycle. Some look at the failure of netroots favorite Darcy Burner's recent bid for Washington State's 1st Congressional District as an example of all that is wrong in political races, and others — those who were involved — say that the circumstances in that particular race were unique, and that larger lessons about the health of the netroots organizing model can't be extracted from the experience.

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This Isn't What Political Air Time Usually Means

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 23 2012

MoveOn.org is asking supporters for $150,000 in donations to fly a plane above high-dollar fundraisers for Mitt Romney with "a message that reminds voters how he represents his corporate and 1% donors." MoveOn previously hired a plane to fly over Romney's Liberty University graduation speech with the message "GOP = HIGHER SCHOOL DEBT." Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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