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First POST: Hot Seats

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 8 2015

Hot Seats

  • Yahoo Politics' Alyssa Bereznak reviews Sen. Rand Paul's campaign website. She likes it a lot more than she did Sen. Ted Cruz's site.

  • Brian Fung of the Washington Post says Paul's most "genius" move in his effort to appeal to young techies is his willingness to take donations in Bitcoin.

  • The most interesting piece of Paul's campaign website, to me, isn't that original: he's copying his father's decision to show, in seeming real-time, the names of recent donors to his campaign, along with a running tally of the total. When Ron Paul did this, it enabled his most ardent supporters to create the first "money-bomb" for his candidacy, since a group of people pledging to all donate at once could see, in real-time, the impact of their action.

  • Today, the political press reports "money-bombs" fairly casually, taking the claims of a campaign pushing up its money ticker as "proof" of actual money coming in (see Philip Bump's credulous report that Rand was raising $24 per second during his first day as an official presidential candidate. Really? How do we actually know that?)

  • Paul's presidential announcement video on YouTube has been blocked due to an apparent copyright claim by the Warner Music Group, which owns the rights to the song "Shuttin' Detroit Down," which he used to highlight his entrance and exit from the state, Philip Bump reports for The Washington Post.

  • Well before 9/11, the US Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency collected the records of billions of phone calls made by Americans to as many as 116 countries, reports Brad Heath for USA Today. He writes, "The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA's intelligence arm, was the government's first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks."

  • John Oliver's interview with Edward Snowden is now up to almost 4 million views on YouTube, more than a million gained since yesterday.

  • Chris Lehane, chief strategist for billionaire Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate SuperPAC, announces a new effort to put candidates on the "Hot Seat" for denying climate change, reports Kate Sheppard for the Huffington Post. Hot Seat is described as "high-tech war room" that will track Koch-based presidential candidates"…and "deploy data-driven tactics" according to NGC's deck describing the program. Impressively misusing capital letters and leaving out hyphens, the deck promises to "Leverage Power Of Social Media: Aggressive state of the art social media effort, including crowd sourcing." Paul Neaville of the Markham Group will be "quarterbacking" the effort. No word from Lehane on whether Hot Seat will be "nano-targeting communications with precision-targeted messaging."

  • Must read: The fight for the soul of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, by Raven Rakia and Aaron Miguel Cantu for the Gothamist. The question at its heart: the role of leaders in an age of networks.

  • Socialize Uber? That's what Jacobin Magazine's Seth Ackerman suggests.

  • Related: Here's the New School's Trebor Scholz on how to "think outside the boss."

  • Google Moderator, the free tool for managing crowd-sifting of questions, is shutting down July 31st. Initially designed to handle internal company all-staff townhall meetings, Moderator hit its heyday in early 2009, when the Obama White House used it to handle hundreds of thousands of incoming questions and millions of votes for a series of "Open for Questions" forums. Bookending those heady days was the 2012 Commission on President Debates, which used Moderator to collect questions from the public that were never actually used by one of their debate's actual moderators, Candy Crowley.

  • Google Deliberator, an internal attempt to build a more versatile tool that was imagined as a "social network for ideas," never got very far off the ground, though you can find its carcass still on Google Plus.

  • Meanwhile, it shall be interesting to see how the White House's newly installed chief digital officer, Jason Goldman, who just started work this week after declaring his interest in improving how the government uses technology to engage with the public, tackles the "We the People" e-petition site, which should really be renamed "We the People Who Wait." According to, there are 20 unanswered petitions on the site that have met its criteria for a required response, that are an average of 344 days overdue for an answer. On Twitter, Goldman tells me, "Still working on not getting lost but thanks for flagging this. Would love to for you to share your ideas for WtP ‪#socialcivics."

  • The State of Ohio has started using OpenGov to share granular-level information about spending data for every governing entity in the state, the company's Zac Bookman blogs.

  • The New York City Parks Department took just a few hours to remove an illicit bust of NSA whistleblower from a Brooklyn park (it was replaced by an artist's hologram Tuesday morning), but it took the department two years to restore a public restroom in that same park.

  • New York City police cars are being branded with their precinct's Twitter handles, Joseph Stepansky reports for the Daily News.

  • Techdirt's Karl Bode makes fun of some British lawmakers' calls for untenable Internet access controls (mandatory age checks? how will that work?) in order to protect pre-teens from an alleged wave of "porn addiction."

  • Interest in net neutrality is rising in India, reports Vishnu Varma for The Indian Express.

  • Congrats to Alex Howard, a frequent contributor to techPresident and columnist for TechRepublic, who is joining the Huffington Post as a senior editor for technology and society.

  • Tonight's Code for America event at Civic Hall--"How to Avoid the Next"--will be livestreamed here, courtesy ISOC-NY, from 6-8pm ET. The speakers include Jen Pahlka, Founder, Code for America; Steven Levy, Editor in Chief, Backchannel; and author of Hackers, In the Plex, and other books; Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer, City of New York; Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief Information Officer, City of Boston; Matthew Klein, Executive Director, Center for Economic Opportunity & Senior Advisor for Service Innovation, NYC Mayor's Office of Operations; Ariel Kennan, Director, Innovation and Design, NYC Mayor's Office of Operations; and Carl Malamud, President, Public.Resource.Org.