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First POST: Reminders

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 22 2014


  • Despite paying lots of lip service to the need for vastly improved voter data integration, the national GOP remains stymied in its efforts as the 2014 elections approach, reports Patrick O'Connor for the Wall Street Journal. Reading between the lines of his solid story, it looks like Andy Barkett, the engineering whiz who came from Facebook to be the RNC's CTO, was stung by the depth of infighting between competing GOP political technology vendors.

  • Here's a new wrinkle for an old GOTV technology: in North Carolina and New Mexico, Planned Parenthood is asking voters to record a phone message to themselves, reminding them to vote on Election Day, reports Bethany Blakeman for Campaigns and Elections. They are also testing using recorded messages from a neighbor, to see how well social pressure can increase turnout.

  • The California Civic Data Coalition, a consortium of journalism schools and media outlets, is collaboratively building open source tools to make it easier for anyone to parse state campaign finance data, reports Joseph Lichterman for Nieman Reports.

  • Even with President Obama's reiteration of his support for net neutrality and Hillary Clinton's recent words of endorsement, there's still plenty of reason to fear the FCC will back some form of paid prioritization, writes Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

  • Mike Bracken, the UK government's director of digital, has posted his stemwinder of a speech to the Institute for Government in London. The short version: using digital to rethink public services means making them "simpler, clearer and faster to use."

  • Technologist and privacy expert Ashkan Soltani is returning to the Federal Trade Commission to serve as its CTO, taking over from Latanya Sweeney.

  • Steve Coll, the dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, writes in The New Yorker that Edward Snowden "has influenced journalistic practice for the better by his example as a source," referring to improving digital security practices.

  • ICYMI: My take on Waze, the social traffic app, and its new "connected citizens" program, which is sharing real-time data with city and state governments worldwide. The question is: Who's in the driver's seat?

  • Those of us who remember Chris Csikszentmihalyi's years running MIT's Center for Future Civic Media, where he produced lots of subversive civic tech and was ultimately being denied tenure, will find this long profile by Luke Yoguinto in The Big Roundtable absolutely fascinating. @csik is now working part-time in Uganda on a start-up called RootIO which is building micro radio stations focused on enabling hyperlocal media, and teaching at the Madiera Interactive Technologies Institute off the coast of Spain.

  • The ACLU's Lee Rowland explains why Arizona's new "naked photo law," which criminalizes the sharing of any nude image without the consent of the person(s) pictured, wreaks havoc with free speech.

  • Tunisia may be the Arab Spring's main success, but as Aarti Shahani reports for NPR's All Tech Considered, the country's techies--for-profit and non-profit alike--are hindered by tight currency restrictions blocking their development.