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First POST: Grassrootsiness

BY Nick Judd | Friday, January 25 2013

How "grassroots" is Organizing for Action?

  • Democratic officials unveiling the Obama for America successor organization, Organizing for Action, said it would be able to accept unlimited contributions — and that it would disclose its donors. Perhaps it's shades of things to come, then, in today's Politico story that reports the day before a come-one-come-all kickoff event in D.C. at which grassroots activists were told they'd have to fund their own field offices and voter file access, a small group of big-dollar Democrats heard a different appeal:

    Dubbed the “Road Ahead” meeting, the conference was sponsored by a White House-allied trade association called Business Forward, which is funded by major corporations including Microsoft, Walmart and PG&E – each of which sent senior executives to participate in a panel on how to boost American economic competitiveness ... “We need you. This president needs you,” [former Obama 2012 campaign manager and Organizing for Action national chairman Jim] Messina said, adding Organizing for Action was “building a national advisory board filled with people in this room." ...

    ... Grassroots activists? They got their own pitch the next day at a bigger, no-invitation-necessary gathering called the “Obama Campaign Legacy Conference” held at the Washington Hilton. There, Carson told reporters that OfA would “absolutely” be funded mostly by grassroots donors like those Obama highlighted in his campaign, rather than big corporate donors.

Renew! Renew!

  • Republicans trying to figure out how to form a new coalition say it's their strategy that has to change, not their policies. At BuzzFeed, Zeke Miller tracks the GOP group that's publicly suggesting a new mix of technology and bottom-up organizing will save the party:

    The so-called "Growth and Opportunity Project" is considering structural recommendations to the party, but is shying away from suggesting new policies, officials said.

    "We're not a policy group," said committee co-chair and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, rejecting speculation that the group would advocate for more moderate policies on immigration and social issues. "We're not going to make policy recommendations to the [party]."

    "We need to learn how to develop the kind of local grassroots organization the Republican Party used to be known for," said New Hampshire committeeman Steve Duprey.

In a Google Hangout, Biden talks guns

  • Is "buy some shotgun shells" a thing yet? Speaking yesterday in a video chat moderated by PBS Newshour's Hari Sreenivasan, Vice President Joe Biden took his unique brand of retail politics to the web. White House officials have said they want to use the Internet as a place to engage with critics and mobilize supporters — Biden was clearly working towards both of those things in the approximately half-hour-long chat, going back and forth with someone who said she was an NRA member one moment and answering a softball question from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki the next.

Around the web

  • New Media Ventures is funding companies like Upworthy, NationalField, and TurboVote.

  • The Guardian is making full county-level results available from the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

  • More data nerdery: The U.S. Census Bureau announced yesterday that American Community Survey data is now available broken out by congressional district. Census data, including ACS, is also available via API.

  • Mark Zuckerberg will host a fundraiser for Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

  • Jeremy Bird, Obama for America's former national field director, is off to try to turn Texas into a blue state.

  • A whole gaggle of Obama for America — and Romney for President — alums are in New York today for "Political Innovation Summit," a one-day election retrospective and general tech-in-politics-and-civic-life confab hosted by Google. It'll be so nice to have every techPresident reader in one room ...

  • Also this weekend, in New Jersey, a hackathon for coders and journalists "to build innovative projects that can transform the way we use data and experience news in the Garden State."

  • Here are remarks on Aaron Swartz that Carl Malamud gave Thursday at the Internet Archive:

    Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must make justice and knowledge available to all—not just the well born or those that have grabbed the reigns of power—so that we may govern ourselves more wisely.

    He was part of an army of citizens that rejects kings and generals and believes in rough consensus and running code.

  • ICYMI: Susan Crawford's Wednesday op-ed in the New York Times, arguing for increased high-speed Internet access:

    At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making. Both the wireless and wired markets for high-speed Internet access have become heavily concentrated, and neither is subject to substantial competition nor oversight. Companies like Time Warner Cable routinely get their way when they seek to prevent local officials from encouraging competition. At the federal level, Verizon Wireless is keeping the F.C.C. in court arguing over the scope of its regulatory powers — a move that has undermined the agency’s authority.

  • Don't try to unlock your phone.

  • The Pope, you guys: The pontiff delivered remarks Thursday emphasizing that what happens online happens in the "real world:"

    "The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young," Benedict said in his message. "Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there."

  • Thursday's New York Times: "A French court on Thursday told Twitter to identify people who had posted anti-Semitic and racist entries on the social network. Twitter is not sure it will comply. And the case is yet another dust-up in the struggle over speech on the Internet, and which countries’ laws prevail."

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.