Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: "Scoops"

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 8 2012

    Must-reads

  • The New York Times takes another look at the Obama campaign's high-tech voter outreach tools:

    It has tested various messages sent to different profiles of Internet users to see which get the best responses in terms of commitments of money or time - a single color change, advisers say, can keep an online user on site for longer. That effort has been helped along by the chief scientist, Rayid Ghani, who joined the campaign last year from Accenture Technology Labs in Chicago.A review of Mr. Ghani's academic papers during his time at Accenture shows that he specializes in gleaning consumers' personal interests from available data online, and then developing messages to entice them to buy certain products based on predictive models of human behavior.

    Trend watch: We noted ProPublica's look at the same ideas yesterday, and when we did, observed that we noted it late last month.

    Let's add one more nugget to the pile: There are third-party tools like Optimizely that allow anyone to build different messages and test them on the same page. Campaigns including Rick Perry's failed presidential run used tools of exactly this sort; A/B testing, as it's called, is so ubiquitous in the left's online organizing space that it has become a running joke.

    It's true, though, that Obama's campaign may be doing this more effectively and in a more sophisticated way. At TechPresident HQ, we've certainly seen more recruitment of data experts and statisticians from Team Obama than from any other presidential campaign.

  • Elizabeth Warren is asking her supporters which charity Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown should donate money to after his supporters violated both campaigns' pledge against third party ads. The Brown campaign has agreed to donate the money to a charity of the Warren campaign's choice.

  • Footage of President Obama during his time as President of the Harvard Law Review caused a bit of a tiff Wednesday among "scoop"-hungry Internet media hounds.

    In the video, President Obama, then president of the Harvard Law Review, speaks alongside Harvard Prof. Derrick Bell on behalf of a female black professor denied tenure when, Buzzfeed reported, "three of the law school's professors were black and only five women." Obama's grad-school connection to Bell was something Big Government, site of the late Andrew Breitbart, planned to "expose" as part of an exclusive to be rolled out with a media appearance on a Fox channel later that day.

    Problem was, Buzzfeed licensed the video from WGBH Boston and beat Big Government to the scoop. Big Government responded by alleging that Buzzfeed or WGBH had selectively edited the footage to shelter Obama, promising to release uncut footage later that day.

    Putting an end to this dizzying round of Internet media one-upmanship, Frontline's Andrew Golis pulled a trump card: Seeing as Frontline is produced in offices at WGBH, he was able to find that the footage had been available online since 2008, that Buzzfeed had included all available footage from Obama's speech, and that the footage appeared on Buzzfeed as it did years ago when it was first aired on television — as that was how it had been archived.

    One thing was missing: During the event, Obama had given Bell a hug.

    This, for Big Government, "shows a young Barack Obama leading a protest at Harvard Law School on behalf of Prof. Derrick Bell, a radical academic tied to Jeremiah Wright--about whom we will be releasing significant information in the coming hours."

    Buzzfeed and Big Goverment continue to trade shots.

  • Techdirt spoke with Jerry Moran, Republican Senator from Kansas, and an early opponent of PIPA. He said:

    The ability to convince the Majority Leader not to put this bill on the floor really was a significant moment -- not just for that legislation, but I have no doubt that the ability of people who use the internet to influence the outcome of decisions made in Washington DC is significant. We now know that it can be done ... I don't see it at all as a one time event. My colleagues are much more likely to be paying attention to tech issues, knowing that there is a voice that can come our way very quickly, very easily and in significant magnitude.

  • Ad Age looks at projections for election ad spending:

    Online spending is also expected to get a huge bump and is projected to reach $159.2 million, a sixfold increase from 2008, though it would still represent only 1.5% of overall campaign spending. (Some political strategists estimate that it will be higher for many races this cycle, approaching 12%.) Spending on paid search is projected to rise, because buying up Google keywords with opponents names' and other campaign buzzwords has become a basic step in the political playbook, though paid search's share of online spending could fall to about one-third from 49% in 2008. Meanwhile, targeted display ads are projected to get a larger share, approaching 30%, as candidates look to hone digital messaging for specific audiences.

  • Notable

  • Syria's Deputy Oil Minister announced his defection on Youtube.

  • The New York Times looked at the spread of I Paid a Bribe websites in India, Bhutan, Pakistan and beyond.

  • Anonymous said that it shut down the website of the Vatican yesterday. The New York Times had previously reported on an unsuccessful attack on the Vatican by the group. Anonymous also attacked the web site of the Spanish security firm PandaLabs, apparently as part of retaliation for the arrests of LulzSec members.

  • A new version of the Federal IT dashboard, which provides new data, visualizations, and tools, has been released. The new version also has fewer errors and inaccuracies in cost and scheduling of projects. The Dashboard was originally launched in 2009 and was meant to help make government investments more transparent.

  • On Quora , users are answering the question, "Which U.S. government programs have most successfully achieved their stated goals?" The respondents include Matt Lira, Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Digital Communications Director, who discusses the success of the Marshall Plan.

  • Researchers who hacked into a test of a Washington D.C. e- voting system in 2010 have now released an academic paper about the experience. As part of the hack, they manipulated the system to play the University of Michigan fight song when people voted, installed fictional candidates, and accessed the security cameras watching the e-voting servers.

  • Wikipedia does not plan on becoming a political campaigning organization after its advocacy against SOPA, founder Jimmy Wales said at a digital media conference in London.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an open data bill that was previously covered by techPresident . That legislation was also the topic of discussion at a panel discussion at the Columbia Journalism School earlier this week, for which the webcast is available. Moderated by Alex Howard, participants included City Council member Gail Brewer, a key backer of the bill. Philip Ashlock, from OpenPlans, and others.

  • The New York City Campaign Finance Board and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee have launched a new campaign called "Your Vote Counts" aimed at encouraging voting among women in honor of Women's History Month.

  • Apple announced its new iPad yesterday, but both the New York Times and Reuters see parallels between the current outcry over working conditions in Apple factories with the outcry over Nike factory working conditions in the late 1980s and 1990s.

  • The Modern Language Association recently issued directions for citing tweets in an academic paper.

With Nick Judd and Raphael Majma

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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

More