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First POST: "Hey," Redux

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, November 30 2012

Morning must-reads

  • Businessweek has a long feature on the science of the Obama campaign e-mails.

    It quickly became clear that a casual tone was usually most effective. “The subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your in-box from other people,” Fallsgraff says. “ ‘Hey’ was probably the best one we had over the duration.” Another blockbuster in June simply read, “I will be outspent.” According to testing data shared with Bloomberg Businessweek, that outperformed 17 other variants and raised more than $2.6 million....We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” says Showalter. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate’ buttons. Eventually we got to thinking, ‘How could we make things even less attractive?’ That’s how we arrived at the ugly yellow highlighting on the sections we wanted to draw people’s eye to.” Another unexpected hit: profanity. Dropping in mild curse words such as “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare” got big clicks ... Fortunately for Obama and all political campaigns that will follow, the tests did yield one major counterintuitive insight: Most people have a nearly limitless capacity for e-mail and won’t unsubscribe no matter how many they’re sent. “

    Alexis Madrigal also offered his take on the article.

    If the "ugly" winners story sounds familiar: It's because Showalter explained the story to techPresident a full week ago.

  • Erick Erickson from Red State joins the drumbeat of Republican observers who say that Mitt Romney's came even as the consultants working at the top levels of his operation, some of whom always seem to get major Rrepublican contracts during high-stakes elections, made millions of dollars. This is all the more disturbing, Erickson observes — citing the LA Times — because several top companies working on the campaign share office space and senior leadership, outlining a small group of people who have made a large amount of money on a campaign plagued by missteps and, ultimately, failure.

  • Ben Smith writes that as a monumental policy debate mounts in Washington, the Obama administration seems poised to make 2012 a repeat of 2009 — by not mobilizing the massive email list the president built over the course of his campaign.

  • Ana Marie Cox writes that the Obama White House has won the hashtag wars. Anthony DeRosa also analyzed how the White House's hashtag was used by supporters and opponents.

  • An event at the New Organizing Institute before Rootscamp explored how campaigns of the future will use data.

  • Syria was cut off from the Internet yesterday. The Syrian government attributed the Internet cutoff to "terrorists" who targeted Internet lines, Reuters reported, and suggested engineers were working on repairing the main communications and Internet cable. Analysts here in the U.S. say Syria's Internet infrastructure is controlled by the Syrian government, making it more likely that Bashar al-Assad's administration is behind the outage. The New York Times also noted that the official Syrian government websites are hosted in the United States.

  • An interactive from Yahoo News highlights the different types of actions We the People signatories are demanding from the White House.

Around the web


  • The Verge highlights a new online interactive documentary from Frontline on David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Among other tools, the project made use of the new Mozilla Popcorn media toolkit.

  • The United Nations Development Programme has launched, "a project and funding data browser that maps 6,000+ projects in 177 countries and discloses more than $5.8 billion in funding," Development Seed notes on its company blog.

  • As the U.N. General Assembly geared up to vote on the resolution to change the status of the Palestinian territory from "observer" to "non-member observer state," the U.N. Twitter accounted falsely tweeted, "On Day of Solidarity with Palestinians, Ban Ki-moon stresses urgency of reaching 1-state solution.” A U.N. social media staffer later tweeted, "Sorry all -- terrible typo on my part and then went into a telephone conference call before catching it." Yair Rosenberg wrote on Twitter that "this may be the biggest typo in the history of international relations."

  • India plans to revise enforcement of an Internet law by barring "lower-level police officials from arresting people for making offensive comments on social networking sites unless the case is first reviewed by a senior police official," the New York Times reported. The changes follows an incident in which a 21-year-old from the outskirts of Mumbai was arrested after she had posted her irritation on Facebook that the city was shut down following the death of a hard-line right wing politician. A friend who clicked like on the post was also arrested. The student has filed public interest litigation with the Supreme Court calling the law that led to her arrest unconstitutional.

  • Gawker conducted a phone interview with Julian Assange with a focus on his new book.

  • A Kenyan filmmaker who lives in Missouri is funding a film about postelection violence and rebuilding in the country via Indiegogo and also hopes to distribute the film via the DVD piracy market.

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.


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.