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First POST: Gearing Up

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, April 9 2012

Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago. Photo: Christopher Dilts / Obama for America

The Firm vs. The Startup

  • A traditional, probably soon-to-be-party-supported Mitt Romney campaign operation seems about to come face-to-face with an outfit Barack Obama's top staff built from the ground up to work in a different way.

    For Yahoo News on Friday, TechPresident managing editor Nick Judd wrote:

    Were you to walk into parts of the Obama reelection campaign's headquarters, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Silicon Valley. Beginning last year, Obama's re-election effort started hiring dozens of designers and developers, engineers, and data scientists. A cross check of the Obama for America FEC filings and Twitter bios turns up at least 36 hires whose resumes could place them on a tech team, rather than a political one. A perusal of their job board turns up a slew of positions located in "HQ Digital," ranging from front end developer to senior web engineer.

    BuzzFeed's man in Chicago follows up in an item today, and fills in details by way of access to Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina:

    There’s been experimentation—the tech team figured out a way to make the Obama website display perfectly on any device, a feat that wouldn’t have been possible even a year ago—and the entire office was designed to resemble a Silicon Valley start-up. More than half of the headquarters staff works for the campaign’s digital department.

    Meanwhile, in Boston, more details are emerging about the likely game plan for Mitt Romney in the general election, as chances for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich grow slimmer every day. Romney's campaign structure is more traditional, but Romney is no Luddite: his tech team is just smaller, it isn't as well-funded, it exists outside of his campaign headquarters and it has until now been focused on what needs to be done in each state to win primary elections.

Filing error

  • The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on April 27 on a proposal to require that local TV stations post information on political ads to a website, as the New York Times reported:

    Acknowledging the feedback from stations, the proposal will give smaller stations two more years to start uploading new additions to their files about political ad spending. At the outset, only the affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in the top 50 TV markets will be required to do so. The F.C.C. says the initial uploading will cost less than $1,000 for a typical station, and will save the stations money over time by avoiding printing and storage costs. The uploaded files will be searchable — but only inside one file at a time. At least at first, it won’t be possible to conduct searches across all the files, to determine which person or political group has spent the most money on ads across the country, for instance. Critics have said that without fully searchable files, Internet accessibility is only a slight improvement over the status quo.

Speaking out

  • Students at Brigham Young University, the institution with close ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have posted an It Gets Better video. The AP notes that the students could face excommunication from the church and expulsion at BYU, where gay students are prohibited from touching or kissing. Some students come out as gay in the video. The AP reports on one message in the video:

    "In our religion, there is a lot of misunderstanding and ugliness about homosexuality," said Kendall Wilcox, a former BYU faculty member who produced the video and serves as an adviser to the school's unofficial gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender support group. "We wanted to send this message that God loves you just as you are."

     

Watching

Weekend Wars: While you were celebrating ...

  • A New York Times editorial calls on Congress to require all states to move towards online voter registration.

  • Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was criticized Saturday after he tweeted, "Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law." Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted, "Heads up, Sen. Grassley. I think a 6-year-old hijacked your account and is sending out foolish Tweets just to embarrass you!"

  • Mitt Romney's so-called "body man" Garrett Jackson has begun blogging as part of an effort to humanize the candidate, the New York Times reported. Jackson is also on Twitter as "Mitt's Body Man." From the Times piece:

    Mr. Jackson is often the first person to see Mr. Romney in the morning; the candidate is dressed and ready, waiting with his iPad, at least 15 minutes before Mr. Jackson arrives at his hotel room to fetch him.

  • Some campaigns sign fundraising emails with their candidate's name. Others list top campaign staff in the "From:" field. But Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has opened up a whole new field with a campaign email sent Friday by "Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket," the co-chair of People in Stock Photos for Franken (PSPF). The Huffington Post quotes the e-mail:

    Hello, I'm Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket, and I'm writing to you today on behalf of Al Franken -- a Senator who stands up for real people (including those of us who make a living posing for stock photos). There's a reason I'm standing with Al. You see, I'm not just Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket. I am also an actual woman worried about the right-wing attacks on my access to health care ... And whether you're a Tattooed Guitar Player, a Guy Wearing Hard Hat, or an Elderly Couple Sitting At Kitchen Table, there's no better way to show your support than by making a contribution today.

Why's nobody doing this for Second Life?

People for shared viewing histories

People for private viewing histories?

  • The video site Jest.com cooperated with Vivid Entertainment, a porn production company, to create a video Porn Stars Against Santorum, with an R-rated final message.

Copyright news

  • In spite of recent reports, SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith denied that discussions about resurrecting the legislation are ongoing.

  • Techdirt highlighted a recent comparison of ACTA with the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, a trade agreement that also focuses on technological and copyright issues, and has also received some criticism.

  • Internet activists are also beginning to target the cybersecurity bill Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

  • A former senior vice president for the MPAA, who has taken a job with the Internet Society, said his opinion about SOPA and similar bills has evolved. "Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did," the official, Paul Brigner, wrote on CNET.com. "The more I became educated on the realities of these issues, the more I came to the realization that a mandated technical solution just isn't mutually compatible with the health of the Internet."

But will Google Suggest know if the chicken's better than the steak?

  • Some media executives are irritated that Google is hosting a Washington D.C. party the night before the Correspondents Dinner, co-sponsored with the Hollywood Reporter.

  • ICYMI: Politico noted that that Republicans are increasingly looking for support among technology companies, especially when it comes to issues such as taxes and regulation.

International: British surveillance technology; increased transparency; you can't dance if you want to

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be participating in live Google Hangout tomorrow.

  • The British Chancellor said he would be open to "U.S. style transparency" in which ministers would publish their tax returns, the Daily Telegraph reported. ""We are very happy to consider publishing tax returns for people seeking the highest offices in the land. Of course, they do it in America," he said in a Telegraph interview.

  • Britain has been exporting surveillance technology to countries with repressive governments, a human rights groups says.The Guardian reported:

    Privacy International said it had visited international arms and security fairs and identified at least 30 UK companies that it believes have exported surveillance technology to countries including Syria, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain. A further 50 companies exporting similar technology from the US were also identified. Germany and Israel were also identified as big exporters of surveillance technology, in what is reportedly a £3bn a year industry.

     

  • The German Pirate Party failed in an attempt to overturn a long-standing ban on public dancing on Good Friday when a court did not allow a demonstration to go forward. The Youth Wing of the Green Party encouraged supporters to protest online by dancing in their homes and posting videos on Facebook.

  • Anonymous says it has published 2,700 emails between Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and other officials in his government.

  • Supporters of a potential Egyptian presidential candidate who is facing disqualification because his mother is an American citizen have been responding by mass-posting negative comments on President Obama's Facebook page.

  • Yemeni separatists hacked Yemen's official news agency.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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