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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

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.