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First POST: Nudges

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 3 2014


  • Darren Samuelsohn has a nice round-up in Politico of the ways that campaigns on both sides of the aisle are using tech in 2014, focusing on fundraising, targeting, GOTV, social media monitoring and video tracking. Most interesting: we are definitely in the age of individual voter targeting: Samuelsohn reports that "even if someone tries to erase their online web history by turning off the cookie function, campaigns are using their databases to find a targeted person’s home and then message them through the specifically-assigned address for each device on an internet network."

  • Joe Rospars, the founder and CEO of heavyweight Democratic web firm Blue State Digital and the Obama campaign's main digital strategist, has written a cri de couer to his fellow online campaigners in Time Magazine. He's worried about the "sheer volume of terrible content" being "shoveled out the door" by Democratic digerati, and how it is causing voters to tune out. Going further, he says that "the cheap, the misleading, the disingenuous" content is in danger of defining the party and its candidates in 2016. Read the whole thing.

  • On Twitter, Carol Davidsen--who masterminded the Obama 2012 campaign's targeted spending of much of the money raised online--takes issue with her colleague Rospar's critique of where campaigns are going.

  • In Oregon, Washington and Colorado, you can check to see if your friends have already voted, and if they haven't, nudge them on Facebook.

  • "To this day," Glenn Greenwald says, in Andrew Rice's exhaustive feature in New York about Pierre Omidyar's long career, "I've never met Pierre in person." That's actually the biggest revelation in the story, but it's chock full of interesting details about everything from the reclusive billionaire's philanthropy to his recent passion for anti-surveillance politics.

  • Mobile apps that can help determine if a speaker is being truthful aren't that far away, and Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association suggests that "before we rush to decry these assessment technologies, we must also consider their incredible array of benefits."

  • On Friday, Facebook announced that it would begin offering an experimental version of itself on the .onion TLD to allow users to access the site from within the Tof anonymizing platform, blogs Alec Muffett, a Facebook security engineer.

  • Facebook also announced a partnership with ABC News and BuzzFeed for their 2016 political coverage, where the company will data-mine the political sentiments of its users, broken down by gender and location. A spokesperson for the company that the data would be "gathered in an aggregated and depersonalized manner in a privacy safe way," Hadas Gold reports for Politico.

  • After leaving the White House, where he led the web savvy side of its communications operation, Macon Phillips went to the State Department to expand its online public diplomacy efforts. In BuzzFeed, Charlie Warzel takes a close look at Phillips' big new project to made pro-American video content go viral:

  • Working for Al Jazeera America, Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld have collaborated on a beautiful 46-page comic book called Terms of Service, that explains in refreshingly clear language how individual privacy is all but dead in the age of Big Data.

  • Using data from SocialSphere, the Boston Globe has made two detailed, interactive maps showing Members of Congress by who they follow on Twitter and by what media outlets they follow. Not surprisingly, the blues and the reds are clustered pretty tightly around each other.

  • Talk about putting dots on a map: The Living New Deal shows the 7,642 airports, schools, hospitals, post offices, art and highways still in use 75 years after they were built.