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First POST: All Shook Up

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 22 2012

Photo: Flickr/DonkeyHotey
    Campaign Trail
  • Mitt Romney picked up a valuable endorsement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday, but the positive momentum that the announcement should have generated was once again stalled by yet another campaign trail gaffe, this time by top campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom as he was being interviewed on CNN.

    Asked whether his shift to the right during the primaries would hurt him in the general election, Fehrnstrom responded: "Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again."

    Both Democrats and Romney's Republican rivals immediately pounced on the comment both online and off. As the New York Times reported, it sparked off a round of mockery on Twitter around the hashtag #Romneytoys.

    A Rick Santorum spokesperson tweeted a photo of Santorum "studying up on Romney policy positions" on an Etch-A-Sketch, and another Santorum spokesperson distributed Etch-a-Sketches to reporters outside a Romney event in Maryland. The Newt Gingrich campaign created an Etch-A-Sketch themed profile picture on Facebook.

    The Democratic National Committee created a web ad titled "Mitt Romney: Some Things You Can't Shake Off" showing footage of Romney expressing conservative positions on an Etch-A-Sketch.

    Matt Ortega, deputy director for digital at {new} partners, created, highlighting contradictory Romney positions. On Twitter he wrote that he "Bought the domain at 12:47pm. Rolled it out by 2:14pm." He disclosed later on that it reached about 100,000 hits within nine hours. It was also featured on NBC News. Etch-a-Sketch was a top trending search on Google.

  • A video of President Barack Obama seemingly on the spot responding in American Sign Language to a deaf student who had signed "I'm proud of you" has gone viral, and has been featured by the Obama campaign on Twitter and Tumblr.

  • Some ballots used in the Illinois primary didn't fit into computerized machines used to tabulate votes.

  • Targeted Victory, a Republican digital strategic consulting firm, has launched YouTube Yesterday, a daily look at which candidate/campaign videos have been the most viewed. It indicates that the Obama campaign's The Road We've Traveled video is the most viewed with 593,138 views. However, since it only appears to be looking at official videos from campaigns and advocacy groups, it didn't include other kinds of efforts that have been garnering even more attention, such as a mashup from an Australian lawyer, The Real Mitt Romney, which meanwhile has over one million views. Romney is a Targeted Victory client.

  • Nielsen released some data on visitors to campaign sites.

    Among the findings:

    During January 2012, more American adults visited President Obama’s site than the four Republican candidates’ sites combined.

    Women made up over 60 percent of the audience to, the largest male/female split among the candidates.

    Only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich’s sites drew more men than women (56% and 51%, respectively), but wins this demo by 4.3 percentage points.

    Ron Paul, the oldest of the 2012 presidential candidates, has the youngest visitors—over a third are 18-34. More than half (52%) of President Obama’s visitors are over the age of 50, and those aged 50-64 are the most concentrated on his site.

    Newt Gingrich’s audience is the most affluent and educated, as 27 percent make over $100K and half have a Bachelor’s or Post-Grad degree.

  • Activism

  • The New York Time's Fixes column highlighted how groups such as the Harry Potter Alliance tap into young adult fandom for Harry Potter and the Hunger Games series to promote activism:

    The key to fan activism, explains Henry Jenkins, [a research project's] principal investigator, is to: "take kids who are culturally active and build a bridge for them to become politically active..... In 2002, teenagers at a Boston-area Boys & Girls Club where [Harry Potter Alliance founder] Andrew Slack worked persuaded him to give Harry Potter a try. Slack sat in the bleachers of the club's gymnasium and read the first line from the first Harry Potter book: "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number 4, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." He loved the subversive message - celebrating the misfits of the world. He went online and discovered "an activist breeding ground" in the form of Harry Potter fan sites. "The Web sites were astounding," he remembers. "Here was a well-oiled, well-connected network. I realized that all I needed to do was become a community organizer and use the parallels to inspire action. Slack convinced wizard rock bands with huge followings to repost his first action alert in 2005. He remembers, "I sat there, hitting refresh over and over and crying as friend requests poured in from all over the world and teenagers commented that they had always dreamed of the chance to be a hero like Harry. We instantaneously became an international organization."

  • Around 1,500 people demonstrated in New York City yesterday calling for the prosecution of the man who allegedly shot 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Florida, in a protest fueled by social media with much support from Occupy Wall Street. The term "trayvon martin case" was a top search on Google yesterday.

  • Author Teju Cole expands on some of his widely distributed tweets that critique the Kony2012 campaign, the mainstream American response to it, and its potential for increased militarization in Africa. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum says he hasn't really been aware of the Kony2012 video.

  • Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen pledged her support for a bill introduced last month by committee member Ed Royce, (R-Calif.,) which updates the State Department's program of awarding bounties to people with information that could lead to the arrest of wanted terrorists and terrorist groups. Ros-Lehtinen linked the legislation to the African warlord Joseph Kony. She also spoke about a congressional resolution she co-sponsored encouraging the Obama administration to keep hunting for Kony.

    "Under the direction of Kony, the [Lord's Resistance Army] has murdered, raped, mutilated, and abducted tens of thousands of innocent people, many of who are children. They target remote villages, butchering civilians and abducting women and children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. Kony's bloody reach now extends to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and the newly formed Republic of South Sudan," said Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, in a House floor speech Wednesday.

    "I thank all the young people throughout my district who have communicated through Twitter and Facebook and different modes of social media to express their outrage over Kony's evil deeds. But now, let's take action, let's pass these bills."

  • Privacy

  • Some Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been arrested in New York City have faced difficulty in getting freed or getting bail because they're refusing to undergo iris photographs.

  • While 93 percent of Internet users in a survey said they would use or activate a Do Not Track button in their browser, only 22 percent are aware of the function, and only two percent use the function.

  • Other news of note

  • New York City is close to applying for a .nyc top level domain.

    The city is seeking a contract with a Virginia-based company, which would apply for the domain and operate and market it on the city's behalf. The company would pay the upfront costs, and the city would get a share of revenue; under the five-year contract, it is guaranteed at least $3.6 million. London, Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona have said that they will also seek domains, but Rachel Sterne, the city's chief digital officer, said she believed New York City was the only major city in the United States to be pursuing one.

  • Reuters reported that investigators locating the gunman wanted for racist and anti-Semitic murders in France identified him in part through his I.P. address.

  • Google has filed an amicus brief in support of the cyberlocker Hotfile, which has been accused by the MPAA of promoting "massive digital theft."

  • The New York Times reported on how comedians are increasingly selling their performances directly to fans online.

  • The New York Times reported on how many high-profile stores such as Macy's, J. Crew and others are increasingly offering international shipping as a result of increased international web traffic, meaning they have to tweak their web interfaces to allow foreign postal codes. But separately, Techdirt noted the continuing challenges for music fans to buy music online internationally because of copyright restrictions.

  • Following a similar effort by adjuncts, a doctoral student is launching an effort to crowdsource data on working conditions of graduate assistants.

  • The Federal Reserve is livestreaming a series of lectures Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is giving at the George Washington University School of Business about the history of the institution and the recent financial crisis.

  • More than 40,000 volunteers have signed up and listened to more than one million radio samples as part of the Center for SETI Research project, which is using web based software SETIlive to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

  • The New York Times reported on how a proposed provision that is part of a Dodd-Frank regulation requires publicly-traded companies to report to shareholders and the S.E.C. about whether their mineral supply for products like cell phones comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it could be benefiting brutal militia groups. Some manufacturers are concerned about the effectiveness of such a regulation, and how practical and effective it would be to trace the source of metals used in products.

  • The New York Times reported on how some online services are leaving Google Maps for OpenStreetMap after Google began charging smaller websites with an average of 25,000 map views a day, and how Google has launched new websites for web developers to fight back.

  • A British teenager denied in court posting offensive messages on Facebook about the deaths in Afghanistan of six British soldiers as protesters demanding respect for troops gathered outside.

  • The European Commission has criticized proposals from 15 German states related to online gambling, saying it needed more evidence that planned restrictions were justified.

  • The Times wrote about how the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli and Palestinian have been effectively questioning the veracity of each other's sometimes misleading posts on Twitter, and gave an update on the Israelis Loving Iranians campaign.

  • In Brazil, Coca Cola is promoting itself by providing a dispenser in Rio de Janeiro that allows young people to download data credits to surf the web on their cell phones and a Coke-themed browser.

  • Researchers have possibly discovered thousands of early human settlements by scanning satellite images with computers.

  • with Sarah Lai Stirland

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.