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First POST: Demythologizing

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 20 2012

From techPresident

Around the web

  •, a local website focused on the Chatanooga area, spoke to Daniel Ryan, director of frontend development for Obama for America, who highlighted the success of the campaign's "Life of Julia" interactive.

  • In the National Journal, Matthew Dowd writes about the "Mythic Narrative of the 2012 Election," among which he includes that "The advanced, technologically driven ground game the Obama campaign organized made the difference in the election by changing the shape of the American electorate and surprising everyone on Election Day by turning out unexpected voters." Dowd attributes the win to larger changes in demographics that were already taking place independently of turnout operations.

  • Pew released a report on the final week of news coverage during the presidential campaign and found the following:

    The conversation on the three social media platforms studied moved in different directions during the final week of the campaign. On Twitter, Romney had his best stretch of the general election in the final week; 32% of the conversation was positive compared to 45% negative. On blogs, however, it was Obama who had his best week of the entire period studied; positive posts were roughly equal to negative (28% positive to 27% negative). The tenor of the Facebook conversation changed relatively little-the conversation about Obama stayed steady and Romney's declined a small amount. On Election Day, the differences between the three social media platforms emerged again as each served a different purpose. Twitter was the most instantaneous; 53% of the conversation involved users sharing breaking news or personal opinions. On Facebook, half (50%) the conversation involved personal political expressions. Blogs were more focused on the meaning of the election results, where 47% of the discussion involved post-mortem insights or the relaying of stories regarding broader themes.

  • McKay Coppins suggests on Buzzfeed that the conservative blogosphere lost because it focused too much on attacking Obama's character and trying to find evidence that he was a radical.

  • Freedomworks is encouraging its supporters to contact elected officials to stop the implementation of the health care law exchanges.

  • After Buzzfeed said it had posted a "supercut of the most indecipherable moments from last week's Gaza debate on HuffPost Live," AOL had it removed from YouTube.

  • The group Christians United for Israel is asking that Twitter ban Hamas from the social network.

  • An Israeli TV producer has tried to encourage an international Instagram campaign with the hashtag #stoptheterror.

  • The Code for America Brigade recently launched a new application contest that will be based on how much an application is used by city residents.

  • The Knight Foundation blog spoke with Philadephia's first chief data officer, Mark Headd.

  • Buzzfeed reported on what Democratic think tank Third Way learned from its research on the marriage equality issue and how those lessons were applied in the successful campaigns in 2012.

  • Twitter highlighted posts from the newly elected and reelected members of Congress.

  • The Verge reported on "the operation to rescue Manhattan's drowned Internet" after Hurricane Sandy, noting how the surge had flooded the downtown office of Verizon, full of copper wiring. Crain's reported on a renewed interest in back-up power sources and generators.

  • The Columbia Journalism Review detailed how a photo went viral that falsely suggested that Occupy Sandy was training National Guard members in relief work.

  • A Staten Island City Council member recounted to the Staten Island Advance how he helped another family endangered by the waters during Hurricane Sandy. "After the episode, the Councilman, as well as fellow City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) and state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (Mid-Island/Brooklyn), spent the remainder of the night fielding Facebook requests with the intention of directing emergency workers to folks needing help.'Facebook saved lives,
    said Oddo. 'The night of the storm, it was 911 and 311 rolled into one.'"

  • Activists from the Climate Reality Project, founded by Al Gore, organized a live 24 hour webcast called the Dirty Weather Report to raise awareness of global warming and its link to extreme weather such as Hurricane Sandy.

  • Fuels America, an association of organizations linked to the biotechnology and ethanol industry, is running online ads advocating against waiving the renewable fuel standard.

  • Gmail now supports Cherokee, its first Native American language.

  • Google, Facebook and Netflix testified in federal court that net neutrality rules should be upheld. Meanwhile several public interest groups have filed an amicus brief criticizing Verizon for comparing net neutrality to censorship.

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is asking for feedback on Reddit to help crowdsource a domain name seizure legislative proposal.

  • Mexican telecommunication providers will participate in an international database to track stolen mobile phones. In addition, the FCC and Mexico's Secretariat of Communications will work together to ensure that mobile carriers fulfill a pledge to not allow the activation of stolen phones on their networks. The National Journal compared the agreement to a "a telecommunications take on "Fast & Furious.'"

  • Before it looked like Hostess Brands and Twinkies might be saved from bankruptcy after all, a We The People petition asks "Barack Obama to immediately nationalize the Twinkie industry." While that one has not reached the threshold for an answer yet, a petition to impeach Obama has.

  • On his website, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) has an entry titled "Secession: Are We Free To Go?" He writes: "Is all the recent talk of secession mere sour grapes over the election, or perhaps something deeper? Currently there are active petitions in support of secession for all 50 states, with Texas taking the lead in number of signatures. Texas has well over the number of signatures needed to generate a response from the administration, and while I wouldn't hold my breath on Texas actually seceding, I believe these petitions raise a lot of worthwhile questions about the nature of our union." He finally concludes, "If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government, they cannot truly be considered free."

  • Nieman Lab spoke to Tumblr editor Jessica Bennett about the site's role as a news platform and the influence of gifs.

  • The Daily Beast explained how it produced a visualization on the success of Super PAC spending.

  • The Huffington Post notes many rural AT&T customers still lack broadband Internet even though that was a condition of a 2006 merger between AT&T and BellSouth.

  • For City and State, Aaron Short reviewed campaign technology that could be helpful for candidates in the 2013 New York City-wide races.

  • As part of a Break the Bubble campaign promoted by the Boston mayor, students from Boston-area colleges attended a panel discussion allowing them to network with local entrepreneurs such as Morgan O’Neill, co-founder of the website

  • International

    • John McAfee, the founder of the eponymous antivirus company who is reportedly wanted for murder and on the run, is blogging. In one post, titled, "If I am captured," he writes that the blog will continue since "I have pre-written enough material to keep this blog alive for at least a year."

    • An Austrian court has upheld a ruling blocking the public state broadcaster ORF from having a presence on Facebook since "the country’s broadcast regulators ruled that its statutes do not allow it a presence on the social media site," the AP reported. The regulator had concluded that pages for its non-news focused properties gave the broadcaster an unfair competitive edge over competing private broadcast and print media, a conclusion that ORF had appealed.

    • Newly released e-mails show that Canadian election officials were desperately trying to correct erroneous robocalls attributed to the Conservative Party that were going out voters in the days before the 2011 federal election, CBC reported.

    • The Guardian mapped how cuts affected local authorities and councils in Britain. In a related article, the Guardian reported that councils in northern, urban and London boroughs under Labour administration had seen greater budget cuts than those areas administered by the Conservative Party.

    • Voice of Russia, a media service sponsored by the Russian Government, suggests that American criticism of Russia's Internet filtering policy is misguided, since the U.S. "imposed Internet censorship in 1996" to protect children with the Communications Decency Act, before it was suspended for violating the Constitution.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.