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First POST: Gaps

BY Nick Judd | Monday, January 28 2013

Selling the "digital gap"

  • Steve Friess rounds up another look at the state of Republican political technology:

    The DNC’s system, known as the Voter Activation Network is a mammoth, ongoing database that has been tracking the interests, voting histories, family circumstances and much more on more than 150 million voters since 2006. That’s when then-DNC Chairman Howard Dean mandated that every state-level Democratic unit contribute to and have access to the same system, developing a powerful weapon that the GOP simply won’t match in the near term.

    “Republicans have historically been a lot more selfish about their sharing of data and sharing of information,” said Vincent Harris, the 24-year-old GOP digital strategist who leveraged social media to put little-known Ted Cruz on his path to the Senate. “There’s no central hub. That integration is priceless, and that’s what [Priebus] needs to lead us on.”

Politics versus civics

  • Anthea Watson Strong, who helped to organize Google's Political Innovation Summit on Friday, writes about a divide that emerged there between civic hackers whose focus is on greater political engagement writ large and politicos who would be perfectly happy to have the only voters be the ones they need in order to win:

    Attendees from the civic space worried about the effect campaign technology has on civic engagement, and at times seemed openly hostile to the methods campaigns have developed to win elections.

    However, as pointed out late in the day, campaigns are not tasked with increasing civic engagement— they are tasked with winning. Campaign operatives have an ethical duty to a candidate and must invest resources to win the race. It would be wrong for them to focus resources anywhere other than on winning an advantage over the opponent.

    Watson Strong's suggestion: Bring the political operatives into conversations around larger questions.

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Web Index Sees Impact of Net Neutrality, Surveillance and Copyright Laws

Denmark, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden have come out on top of the Web Index, a ranking of the Web Foundation measuring the economic, social and political benefit that countries gain from the web. The United States is at number six. For the authors of the report accompanying the index, the results reflect how inequality has an impact on access to the web. "Nordic policy-makers have been quick to adopt and promote the free Internet - and open access to information - as a 21st century public good," the report states. " Others, as this year's findings show, need to move fast to catch up." The report attributes the Scandinavian countries' advantage to the countries' broader efforts to invest in public goods and establish a welfare and acting against " excess concentrations of wealth and power." With the lower inequality in those countries than in others, "the skills, means and freedoms to benefit from new technologies are widespread, which helps to explain why Scandinavian countries score highly on the political, social and economic impact of the Web GO

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