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First POST: Grandma Knows How You Voted

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 11 2013

Friday must-reads

  • Personal Democracy Plus exclusive: The New Organizing Institute's new executive director, Obama for America alumni Ethan Roeder, tells Sarah Lai Stirland that the Democratic Party still doesn't have enough data-driven campaigners. That's where NOI comes in — an organization with an increasing number of connections throughout the party on a mission to train a new generation of candidates and campaign operatives.

  • ICYMI: For ProPublica, Lois Beckett explores the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's sophisticated, grandma-driven data operation. Grandma-driven, yes, that's right:

    Much of the data the Grandma Brigade collects is prosaic: records of campaign donations or voters who have recently died. But a few volunteers see free information everywhere. They browse the listings of names on Tea Party websites. They might add a record of what was said around the family Thanksgiving table — Uncle Mitch voted for Bachmann, cousin Alice supports gay marriage.

    One data volunteer even joked about holding "rat out your neighbor parties," where friends would be encouraged to add notes about the political views of other people on their block.

  • Iowa Democrat Brad Anderson, who ran the Obama campaign's 2012 Iowa effort, has announced plans to run for secretary of state. Criticizing voter ID proposals pushed for by the current Republican incumbent, Anderson said an electronic verification system to check in voters made more sense, the Des Moines Register reported. He praised The Precinct Atlas Program developed by Republican Ken Kline, the auditor in auditor in Cerro Gordo County. "It’s essentially a digital poll book that replaces the binders of papers. The database flags convicted felons, people who have already requested a ballot by absentee, and those who are at the wrong precinct. And it doesn’t disenfranchise a single voter," he said.

  • Software engineer Luigi Montanez writes about the rise of the activist engineer:

    The prospects for more activist engineers are bolstered by a failed promise of Silicon Valley. A long-time refrain has been that VC-backed Silicon Valley startups can indeed change the world. But the current crop of consumer web and mobile startups don’t live up to that ideal. SnapChat and Facebook Poke aren’t changing the world, they’re enabling people to be even more self-centered and insular. Airbnb and Uber, two terrific services that are profoundly disrupting their markets, don’t make that dent in the universe Steve Jobs once spoke of.

  • In officially nominating Jack Lew as treasury secretary, Obama said, "I had never noticed Jack’s signature. When this was highlighted yesterday in the press I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him. Jack assures me that he will work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency should he be confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury." Yahoo News offered a Jack Lew Signature Generator. The NYC Public Schools Twitter feed posted yesterday, "Congrats to Jack Lew (Forest Hills HS '72) on his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. We're proud of all of our students' penmanship!"

Around the web

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.

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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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