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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 >

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.


The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.