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First POST: Enhancing SOTU

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 25 2012

President Barack Obama and his director of speechwriting, Jon Favreau, on Jan. 23. Photo: Pete Souza / White House
  • President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union both online and offline last night. Viewers could watch on TV or on an enhanced broadcast offered by the White House. According to Twitter, a joke Obama made — or tried to make — about spilled milk produced the most tweets during the address, while top themes discussed on Twitter were #education, #energy and #jobs. Altogether there were 766,681 tweets with reference to the State of the Union, and 548 by members of Congress. "State of the union" was a top trending search on Google all day. On its homepage, Google had also encouraged users to view the address on YouTube. Later, another related trending search was "state of the union drinking game."

  • Brian Stelter of the New York Times noted that ABC and Bloomberg had the hashtag #sotu on screen. The Washington Post encouraged readers to play a State of the Union bingo game on Twitter.

  • A Twitter feed associated with Anonymous called the FBI a cyber-threat.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner was running a promoted tweet ahead of the State of the Union stating that "The House has passed nearly 30 bills #4jobs that remain stuck in the Democrat-run Senate #stateofjobs #SOTU."

  • This was the first year reporters were allowed to use electronic devices on the House floor during the speech.

  • Mitt Romney released a web video entitled "The Real State of the Union" as a "pre-buttal" to the President's speech.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed by video a virtual online peace conference of Israeli and Arab youth that took place on Facebook earlier this week.

  • A federal judge in Colorado has ruled that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination does not protect a laptop owner from decrypting her encrypted hard drive.

  • The Washington Post explored a Super PAC affiliated with Newt Gingrich:

    Phillips said one example of what the group is doing came Saturday night. Within 30 minutes of Gingrich being declared the winner in South Carolina, the super PAC had sent out an e-mail titled “Newt the American.” The message, including a video with excerpts of Gingrich’s victory speech in Columbia, S.C., had reached 6 million voters by Sunday morning.

  • Rick Perry has been a source of online traffic for the Texas Tribune.

  • A video-based Facebook advertising firm has launched a new tool called Sociolitical for campaign managers to reach out to voters using social media and video.

  • Dylan Byers of Politico reports that Nathan Kleinman, a member of Occupy Philadelphia, will be the first member of the movement to seek congressional office. Kleinman intends to challenge Democratic incumbent Allyson Schwartz in the upcoming primary.

  • More information about Missouri's public finances could become available in an online database.

  • In response to a D+ ranking from government watchdog Good Jobs First on disclosures of economic development subsidies, the Maryland Business and Economic Development Department is releasing the Finance Tracker. The Finance Tracker is a web tool that allows users to see what actions the department are taking and what types of financing is available to businesses.

  • In an annual address on communication, Pope Benedict XVI warned against overexposure to online communication tools:

    The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers – indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.

  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is planning a TV show where he will interview key political plays, thinkers, and revolutionaries from around the world.

  • Marketing Land looks at which other sites got traffic when Wikipedia was down last week.

  • Google is updating and unifying its privacy policies and terms of service, as the New York Time and other news organizations reported:

    The new privacy policy makes clear that for people logged into a Google account, Google can use information shared on one service in other Google services.“If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy for product and engineering, wrote in a company blog post. “In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

    Marketing Land has further analysis.

  • While some Polish websites sites were blacked out yesterday to protest the anti-counterfeiting initiative ACTA, Anonymous attacked governmental websites in Ireland. A Federal Trade Commission site was also hacked yesterday.

  • A law similar to SOPA could be coming to Canada.

  • A New Zealand court has denied bail to the founder of the now-defunct file-sharing site Megaupload. Meanwhile, Reuters reports he could face lengthy extradition proceedings.

  • EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding reaffirmed that the European Union would not restrict access to the Internet. "You'll never have from Europe a blocking of the Internet -- that's not the European option," she said.

  • In a speech at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg suggested, in light of upcoming EU privacy regulations, that Facebok could have a positive economic impact in Europe in the right regulatory environment, the New York Times reported.

  • The Norwegian Data Inspectorate has ruled that corporate uses of Google Apps are in breach of Norwegian law because of the Patriot Act, Open Digital reports


  • The mobile phone operator Orange will provide free access to Wikipedia on phones in the Middle East and Africa.

  • On the anniversary of the Egyption revolution, the New York Times features a first-hand account in text and video from Egyptian activist Adel Abdel Ghafar, who tweets under @dooolism, of the revolution's first hours, and also talked to other activists.

  • Iran has been arresting several bloggers, writers and programmers.

  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has called for all government spending to be relayed online for monitoring. He wants the transition to be completed within six months and hopes for information to be updated in real time

  • Following a cancellation of his personal visit due to perceived death threats, a video link broadcast featuring author Salman Rushdie at an Indian literary conference was also cancelled because of a threat of violence.

With Raphael Majma

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


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.