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Daily Digest: From Local Gadfly to Internationally Known

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 1 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • The Email Heard 'Round the World: The LA Times' Erika Hayasaki has the back story on Anne Kilkenny. Anne Kil-who? Oh, you know, the Alaskan who wrote an email critiquing her fellow Wasillan Sarah Palin that landed in your inbox at least one thousand times just after the Palin pick was announced. The LA Times brands Kilkenny a "gadfly" who was a regular at local political meetings when even the town's political reporter wouldn't show. And some on the local political scene, it seems, aren't too happy with Kilkenny's standing as a "Palin expert" these days. But she's a gadfly whose opinion on a major new American political figure whose missive went, for whatever reason, entirely viral. Beats waiting for open mic night down at town hall. #

  • Deconstructing Voiceover-Gate: Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert is slamming right-leaning bloggers for their quixotic campaign to tie an anti-Palin YouTube clip to the Obama campaign, despite, well, the total lack of evidence -- unless, that is, voiceovers that kinda sound like other voiceovers counts. Eric's piece is a gleeful no-holds-barred tearing apart of the right's blogosphere, sure. But somewhere in there there's also an interesting dissection of how this particular "story" started with a kernel of truth, warped into an ungrounded political mission, and ultimately fizzled out. #

  • Man Down!: Bad news for ActBlue: The Democratic fundraising hub went down yesterday afternoon for at least two hours. Even badder news: The snafu happened right in the middle of the very final moments of the fundraising quarter. The panicked emails coming out of campaigns and allies yesterday were a testament to how ActBlue, which has raised more than $68 million online since 2004, has become a cornerstone of the progressive infrastructure. That's especially true for smaller campaigns, where it can function like an outsourced finance team. The site was back up and running by early evening. And in an email, ActBlue called the downtime "unacceptable" and offered to help hand-process contributions that had piled up in the meantime. No official word yet on what went wrong. #

  • Picking up the Schleppin' Tab: If this were still the '90s we'd be calling it synergy. But since it's 2008, we'll go with calling it a mashup. ObamaTravel is a volunteer-run grassroots organization that partners potential volunteers with people who have cash to spare, that quite naturally, grew out of the 2004 Dancers for Democracy movement. The Great Schlep is a Sarah Silverman-fronted effort to get Jewish folks to visit their grandmas and grandpas in Florida to convince them to vote for Obama. Put 'em together, and you've got a way to new pay for that plane ticket down to South Florida. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Taking to the Blogs to Condemn McCainCare: The Obama campaign has taken heat for supposedly giving short shrift to progressive bloggers. Now, one of their own has tried to reach out. With McCain and Obama's back-and-forth during the first debate over the Republican's health care plan causing more confusion than it erased, David Blumenthal, one of the Obama campaign's top health care advisers, penned a lengthy early morning post on Daily Kos condemning McCain's health care plan for its "blind embrace of de-regulated free markets." Crickets, my friends, crickets. David's post produced only 11 comments and 9 recommendations, and questions posed to the advisor in the comments went unanswered. By way of comparison, a diary from an unknown Alaskan on "Creating Candidate Palin" has attracted 276 responses and garnered too many recommendations to bothering counting. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Version Tracking the Big Bill: Software develop ors working collaboratively often use revision control tools that help to keep track of changes in complex projects. Inspired by the idea, GovTrack has launched a rough version tracking of the evolving Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, a.k.a H.R. 3997, a.k.a. the bailout-out bill, a.k.a. the economic rescue plan. Here, for example, is a side-by-side comparison of Thursday and Sunday's drafts, with the differences highlighted. "Why is this so ugly?," asks GovTrack's Josh Tauberer (rhetorically, as he built the thing). Because while Congress loves that sense of resolute finality that PDFs provide, converting PDFs more user-friendly format can be problematic. "If you think the public should be able to do this better, tell your representative to support The Open House Project report recommendations," suggests Josh -- in particular, we'll note, the part about setting government data free in a wonderfully structured format like XML, so that the rest of us can easily make use of it. #

  • Dennis Kucinich's Video Recommendations: The liberal Democratic congressman from Ohio not surprisingly voted no Monday on the $700 billion bailout measure. Calling this "a teachable moment," yesterday he sent around an email attempting to explain the U.S.'s so-called fractional reserve system. But, with admirable self-awareness that his economics lesson might have fallen flat, Kucinich said 'just go an watch this Google video instead.' Called "Money is Debt," it's a somewhat quirky 47-minute animated take on modern banking that was created by a Canadian artist in partnership with the American Monetary Institute. (Here's the entirely interesting "Producer's Comments" on how the video came into being.) And no, it's not every congressperson who sends around links to obscure explanatory web videos he or she had nothing to do with. #

In Case You Missed It...

With an eye on the many state-wide ballot initiatives up for a vote this election, Nancy Scola has your mini guide to navigating direct democracy, as well as a look at how the House of Representatives has resorted to turning back emails in a bid to keep its IT infrastructure up and running.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.