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First POST: Net Effects

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 27 2015

Net Effects

  • Responding to the skepticism expressed by GOP campaign strategist Alex Lundry about Hillary Clinton's reported plan to hire 1000-plus digital staff, Ethan Roeder, the data director for the Obama 2012 campaign emailed me to respond with, well, data. He writes: "2012 numbers - 260 digital staff, 117 data, about 50 analytics and 50 tech. That's close to 500. In 2008 you could literally fit our analytics and tech teams together in a closet. Total staffing across these departments was in the ballpark of 200. Compare that to 500 staff in 2012 and it's not hard to imagine a team of 1,000 in 2016."

  • The Clinton campaign is plotting a kind of "listening tour" to reintroduce her to the American people, Glenn Thrush and Annie Karni "report" for Politico. I put report in quotes because if you read their story closely, nothing is directly sourced or nailed down, nor is the phrase "listening tour" actually used anywhere but in the Politico headline. But hey, journalism.

  • The last time as a presidential candidate, when Clinton promised a "conversation" with the American people, things didn't stay on track for long.

  • Veteran tech reporter Steven Levy bets futurist Kevin Kelly that within ten years more than half of all video will be watched live. I'd side with Levy on this bet, judging from the deluge of user-generated video already produced and consumed every day on YouTube and other platforms. This still doesn't prove that Meerkat and Periscope are going to "revolutionize" politics in 2016 (Levy was the editor of the Dan Pfeiffer piece in Medium predicting that). (h/t Mark Pesce).

  • Catching up with the past, CNN's Chris Moody says that "new technology is posited to upend politics just in time for the 2016 presidential campaign." Actually, he makes a good case for how live-streaming ~could~ affect the race--by extending the power of opposition trackers, who already collect video on rivals and opponents, but now will be able to push gaffes live. (Warning, if you click on the link your browser will start playing a video ad followed by a goofy interview/qua product plug of Meerkat founder Ben Rubin by CNNMoney's Laurie Segall, who, honestly, seems to be there mostly to share her cuteness.)

  • Judging from Google searches for voter registration information, millions of people were interested in voting in 2012 but were blocked from doing so by early registration deadlines in many states, academic Alex Street reports for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.

  • US Digital Service Administrator Mikey Dickerson, previously of Google, posts on the OMB's blog "Why We Need You in Government." The most interesting part is where he explains why he couldn't get excited about returning to Google after helping save

    I went back to my old job and tried to care about it. I was not successful. On one hand the company does not need me; there are thousands of other engineers that are as good or better. On the other hand, if I succeeded beyond anybody's wildest dreams the net effect is that some extra billions of dollars would go to one billionaire instead of a different billionaire. It was hard to see why I should bother, and still is.

  • Also this, which was how Dickerson addressed his audience at SXSW (this post is based on his remarks there earlier in March): "Some of you, not all of you, are working right now on another app for people to share pictures of food or a social network for dogs. I am here to tell you that your country has a better use for your talents. "

  • Speaking of Obamacare, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) asked her Facebook fans to send her stories of their healthcare reform woes, and as Matthew Yglesias reports for Vox, she got flooded with "love letters."

  • FBI director James Comey testified before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on his continued desire to require tech companies to make their products less secure, reports the District Sentinel's Sam Sacks. Comey declared, “Tech execs say privacy should be the paramount virtue. When I hear that I close my eyes and say try to image what the world looks like where pedophiles can’t be seen, kidnapper can’t be seen, drug dealers can’t be seen.”

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is canceling all his company's programs in Indiana in response to the state's new law allowing businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds, Daniel Strauss reports for Talking Points Memo. On Twitter, Benioff is "calling other tech CEOs and tech industry leaders to please take a stand."

  • Nick Troiano, Run for America's co-founder, and youngest candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2014 cycle has joined's newest effort led by Jake Brewer to give citizens better information and more influence in elections.

  • Professional Russian Internet troll Marat Burkhard tells all to Dmitry Volchek and Daisy Sindelar of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Thousands of Russians are employed, at above average wages, by the government to do this kind of work:

    Every city and village in Russia has its own municipal website with its own comments forum. People would write something on the forum -- some kind of news -- and our task was to comment on it. We did it by dividing into teams of three. One of us would be the "villain," the person who disagrees with the forum and criticizes the authorities, in order to bring a feeling of authenticity to what we're doing. The other two enter into a debate with him -- "No, you're not right; everything here is totally correct."

  • The World Wide Web Foundation is convening "Rebooting Open Data in Africa" in Addis Ababa today.