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First Post: #250Gas

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 13 2012

    Must reads

  • While the Obama campaign is encouraging supporters to sign up to view its upcoming documentary, the Gingrich campaign has released its own 16-minute film entitled “Newt Gingrich: Rebuilding the America We Love.” According to the campaign, the film chronicles his roots, including how he visited the Harrisburg City Hall in Pennsylvania as a 10-year old child asking the city to open a zoo.

  • Speaking of Newt, CNN reported on how he is trying to reinvigorate his campaign by "pin[ning] hope on hashtags."

    In late January they hired digital media consultant Vincent Harris to help the burgeoning campaign after Gingrich won the South Carolina primary. "I stepped into a campaign that was very well-versed with everything online, they just didn't have the people resources," said Harris, who worked for Rick Perry's campaign before the Texas governor dropped out of the race....Four weeks ago Gingrich introduced his plan to reduce gasoline prices to $2.50 per gallon and the campaign has aggressively promoted it on social media sites. On Twitter, the hashtag #250gas has been tweeted 35,105 times by more than 7,400 users, according to Harris.

    That sounds like a lot, but a glance at Trendistic shows that #250gas has yet to show up more than .01 percent of the time among all tweets. If you search for the hashtag, you will see an Obama campaign ad, reports Buzzfeed. Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond also told CNN that they had raised more than $10 million online, and Gingrich himself claimed that the campaign had recently gotten its 175,000th donation. Harris also goes into some detail on the campaign’s micro-targeting efforts, noting that "Since we did so well with evangelicals in Georgia, we are going to be advertising to folks in Christian colleges and folks who have graduated from Christian colleges in Mississippi and Alabama."

  • The Washington Post has a fascinating tick-tock on the monthly release of new jobs data:

    The president’s senior advisers walked into the Roosevelt Room at 8:29 a.m., refreshing the screens on their BlackBerrys in a race to see the monthly employment numbers first.....In a windowless room in the Labor Department, 40 economists and journalists prepared for the report’s official release. ..... Their computers were connected to a central switch, ensuring that they couldn’t publish anything until exactly at 8:30. The Labor Department had recently sought security advice from the organization that safeguards the country’s stockpile of national weapons, for fear of a last-minute leak. Now a security expert called the Naval Observatory to confirm that the room’s atomic clock was precise to the nanosecond....“We always tape paper over the windows of the conference room or draw the shades,” Kosanovich said about her typical routine during a lockdown. She made a habit of refraining from answering phone calls or e-mails from unknown numbers and never discussing data outside her office.

  • Google looked at the most viewed Super PAC videos on YouTube and found that videos posted by Revolution PAC, which is supporting Ron Paul, to be the most popular. We are not surprised.

  • The Blackberry is becoming less popular in Washington, D.C., the National Journal reported.

  • In conjunction with Sunshine Week, the Sunlight Foundation* released a new free app called Open States. It provides up-to-date information for all 50 states on legislation being considered and how to contact legislators, campaign finance and voting records, plus news happening in each state. Download it from the iTunes store.

  • Roger Cohen of the New York Times has a both tongue-in-cheek and serious take on the Kony 2012 campaign.

    Justin Bieber, the pop star, put it bluntly to his 18.3-million Twitter army: “SO glad you’re behind this! He MUST be stopped! THANK YOU for helping spread the word. POWER IS IN NUMBERS. #STOPKONY.”....But this just in: RT button and #hashtags apparently operating with 10-year delay. And esp this: the celebs of the California-based White Savior Industrial Complex are terrible reporters. I mean, rly. The L.R.A. has been in decline for some time, its membership probably numbers a few hundred rather than the tens of thousands mentioned in the video....Sure, his superficial video and its viral wave have troubling aspects. As Evgeny Morozov, the author of “The Net Delusion,” tweeted: “Should we pay attention to the LRA because Invisible Children is more effective at using social media than the Free Syrian Army is. WTF?” Well, no — but it would help if the Free Syrian Army or Syrian National Council had Twitter handles. Anyway, I’ve already written my next column. Here it is: “He MUST be stopped. Do smth!! All 17,577 of my followers pls RT now!!! #StopAssadinSyria.”

  • Notable

  • Even though Invisible Children said it targeted 12 influential policy makers and 20 celebrities to help spread the Kony 2012 video, in recent commentary in Ad Age, the president of Buzzfeed and senior marketing manager at StumbleUpon wrote that their analysis indicated most sharing came through more intimate relationships, not through so-called influencers.

  • The Obama administration is having difficulty keeping up with Freedom of Information requests, according to the A.P.

  • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, will take an unpaid adviser position with the UK government. Wales will help the government develop new technologies and “advise civil servants on how the public can be better engaged through the internet as a part of its ‘open government’ initiatives.”

  • The advertising group Bartle Bogle Hegarty is the subject of much controversy after equipping 14 homeless individuals with 4G connectivity devices at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. The homeless individuals were compensated for acting as wireless infrastructure, but many commenters were upset by the nature of the “charitable experiment.”

  • The conservative group One Million Moms, which had previously targeted Ellen DeGeneres' participation in a J.C. Penney ad campaign, is now targeting the new ABC comedy GCB, the original title of which was "Good Christian B*tches." Newt Gingrich had previously also singled out the show for being anti-Christian. Meanwhile, the show's ratings went up slightly after his criticism. However, TLC cancelled the reality show All American Muslim, which had also been a target of conservative criticism, due to low ratings.

  • Paidcontent reports that 14 class action suits have been filed against Google. The suits allege a violation of the Wiretap Act over having changed code to convince iPhone devices that assent had been given to install advertising cookies.

  • In a New York Times commentary, two authors suggest that young people today have become less mobile and more complacent, in part due to the Internet.

    Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook. In a study of 15 countries, Michael Sivak, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (who also contributed to the D.M.V. research), found that when young people spent more time on the Internet, they delayed getting their driver’s licenses. “More time on Facebook probably means less time on the road,” he said. That may mean safer roads, but it also means a bumpier, less vibrant economy....The Greatest Generation signed up to ship out to fight Nazis in Germany or the Japanese imperial forces in the Pacific. The ’60s kids joined the Peace Corps. But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother.

    Sorry, but this has got to be one of the silliest generational arguments we’ve ever seen. Thank you New York Times for bringing it to our attention.

  • PBS recently did a feature on "Gotcha" videos in the campaign, including how the grandson of Jimmy Carter created an amateur video highlighting Newt Gingrich’s controversial comments about immigrants without English skills "living in a ghetto," which he then contrasted with Gingrich's apology, a clip that ended up going viral.

  • The Marines are launching a new multimedia campaign that "includes documentary-style videos posted on the Corps' Facebook page and on YouTube showing real footage of Marines in action on disaster-relief missions following natural disasters in Haiti and Japan."

  • Senior NATO officials revealed personal details to alleged Chinese spies using a fake Facebook account for American Admiral James Stavridis, The Telegraph reported.

  • A Minnesota middle school student is suing her school district after school employees searched her Facebook and e-mail accounts.

  • CBS's 60 Minutes profiled the Khan Academy and its aim to revolutionize learning through its free educational videos. TED also plans to launch a new online collection of free educational lessons.

  • The organization Stay With It is partnering with Facebook today to encourage engineering students to continue their studies with a livestreamed discussion that will also include a video message from President Barack Obama.

  • The New York Times reported on how YouTube is offering a special limited platform of its site to schools, featuring only videos teachers deem appropriate for class.

  • Occupy Wall Street's founding New York branch is running out of money. As the Occupy movement nevertheless is planning new efforts this spring, some Occupy supporters in New York City feel like they are under extensive police surveillance and investigation.

  • Ad Age looked at the creation of the Guardian's widely shared Three Little Pigs ad for its open journalism approach.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched its student loan complaint system.

  • Several newspapers are refusing to run a Doonesbury comic strip regarding anti-abortion/mandatory ultrasound laws in Texas and will direct readers to find them online.

  • The New York Times looked into the reasons behind the lack of reliable doctor ratings online.

  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R - Wa)'s director of new media detailed how the congresswoman transitioned to Facebook Timeline.

  • New York City's tech scene is worried about a lack of diversity, particular an underrepresentation of African-Americans.

  • On his ministry's website, preacher Harold Camping announced that he had been wrong about his predictions last year about the end of the world.

  • International Headlines

  • BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin has a great round-up of African voices responding to the Stop Kony campaign.

  • China's microblogging service Weibo said it expects to have registered the identities of 60 percent of its users by a government deadline.

  • The center-left candidate won an election this weekend in Slovakia. His opponent from a centre-right coalition had been hurt by the leaking online of the so-called Gorilla secret service file that revealed politicians being offered kickbacks.

  • Activists in Azerbaijan are debating whether to protest or boycott the Eurovision Song Contest taking place there in May due to the country's hard-line approach to Internet postings.

    But others are against a boycott. "That is the worst thing that could happen," said Emin Milli, a blogger who in 2009 was beaten and jailed for two years for "delinquency" after posting YouTube videos mocking the regime..."This is a country where people are jailed because of what they write on Facebook or post on YouTube. Discontent is there and no one can predict what may happen next. We had a protest in one of the regions two weeks ago organised through BlackBerry messenger; you never know when this great edifice that seems to be so powerful and invincible will fall...Eurovision is an opportunity for the international community to focus on what is happening in Azerbaijan. The best way to understand is to come and see it."

  • Global web movement Avaaz has been supporting protesters in Syria and helping to smuggle reporters into the country.

  • The International Herald Tribune looked into the German government's plan to institute a licensing system for news content excerpts online. In his Monday New York Times column, David Carr highlighted the newly formed Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation organized by an Ad Age columnist.

  • The media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been increasing its video output recently to win supporters in Yemen.

  • A hacker in England who said he was affiliated with Anonymous admits in court that he broke into the website of the nation's biggest abortion provider and had planned to publicly release the details of women who used the service.

  • In a music video, a Senegalese musician encourages voters who may be offered money to vote a certain way in an upcoming presidential election to take the money but then vote their conscience anyway.

  • A tweet by a museum director in England sparked a viral effort to preserve the work of a man who helped develop the world's first computer, including a donation from Google.

  • YouTube briefly removed, then restored, Israeli Defense Forces video of a recent airstrike in Gaza.

  • * PDM co-founders Andrew Rasiej and Micah L. Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight foundation.

With Raphael Majma and Micah L. Sifry.

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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.


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.