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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