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First POST: Power Brokers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 21 2014

Power Brokers

  • Bradford Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, is profiled by Nick Wingfield in the New York Times as "a de facto ambassador for the technology industry at large" and the catalyst in recent initiatives by major companies to band together in urging reform of government surveillance practices.

  • The New York Times zeroes in on Edward Snowden's recent charge, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian, that sexually explicit photos intercepted incidentally were often shared among NSA coworkers.

  • Storyful's Megan Specia explains how journalists digging through social media sites were able to find connections between the Donetsk People's Republic separatist militia and the downing of Malaysian Air Flight MH17.

  • Markos Moulitsas, the founder and owner of the DailyKos.com community blog, announced on Saturdaythat his site will not be supporting or attending Netroots Nation--the conference DailyKos spawned--when it reconvenes in Phoenix next year. His reason: until the anti-immigrant SB 1070 is repealed, he and DailyKos are boycotting the state.

  • As Slate's David Weigel points out, "In the short history of blogging and online activism, this is a BFD. Moulitsas' blog was the Petri dish for countless writers and campaigners; Moulitsas himself was an accidental icon of the 2004-2008 period when the press woke up to the 'netroots.'"

  • An informal online poll on DailyKos suggests that his site's partisans are totally with him on this one.

  • Responding to Moulitsas, Raven Brooks, executive director of Netroots Nation, says the convention is going to Arizona "because that’s where our voices and presence are needed right now. We’re going there because that’s where organizing power is needed right now. We’re going there because that’s where we can have the greatest impact and affect the greatest change."

  • Meanwhile, the conservative-libertarian tech crowd got together at the Lincoln Labs conference in San Francisco, which was highlighted by a weekend hackathon. Commenting on that event, Chuck DeFeo, the RNC's chief digital officer, told Darren Samuelsohn of Politico, "“We’ll see exactly how much that desire to be civically involved and to take on a cause that’s civically minded, how much that translates into them wanting to stay involved in the challenges we’ve got within our party and within the movement. These are all people working in Silicon Valley start-up environments. Is this a spark for them to actually become more involved in helping us get center-right candidates elected?”

  • The San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli previews Brigade, Sean Parker's still-in-stealth civic engagement startup, as its CEO Matt Mahan keynotes Tuesday's CampaignTech West conference. Included, a quote from yours truly predicting that Brigade "will fail" if its goal is to create one site where people congregate to do their generic political activity.

  • According this chart from Deep Root Analytics posted to Quartz Glass, the best shows for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli to advertise on last year to reach Republicans and swing voters were "NFL Sunday," "Community," "Rookie Blue" and "Dancing with the Stars."

  • Evgeny Morozov is back in the Guardian with a typically fervid mix of provocative critique (in this case, of the risks of "algorithmic regulation" superseding democratic control) and conspiratorial assumptions (in this case, of claiming that "the algorithmic regulation lobby advances in…clandestine ways [by creating] innocuous non-profit organizations like Code for America which then co-opt the state"). Morozov's ongoing war against civic tech is truly nutty in how he assumes only the most nefarious of impulses and never once wades into understanding how civic hackers actually work.

  • Our old pal Nick Judd surfaces in Vice.com with a close look at Uber's ongoing war against the taxi industry, writing that "While [company co-founder Travis] Kalanick might see himself in the middle of a battle with good guys and bad guys, the events of the past few years have made it more and more difficult to pick out heroes and villains."

  • Cartoonist Jon Adams nails The Potato Salad Kickstarter and poverty in San Francisco, in just three images.