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Daily Digest: Can Robos Survive Under the Full Glare of the Web?

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 23 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Internet Killed the Robocall: The liberal mini-media empire Talking Points Memo is out with an inventive "Map of GOP Sleaze" that plots campaign robocalls and mailers against a map of the United States. The star of the map is probably the efforts by the McCain campaign to tie Barack Obama to former Weatherman Bill Ayers, from robocalls that are turning up in New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and Missouri and elsewhere to a flier that brands Ayers "Terrorist. Radical. Friend of Obama." (It's truly a wonder the fine people of North Carolina get anything done with all the stuff coming their way.) The TPM map is too clunky, but it raises the question -- can surreptitious robocalls and negative fliers survive in the age of blogs, when "under the radar" doesn't really exist? It was bloggers, remember, including TPM and Facing South, that first connected the dots on the Women's Voices, Women Vote robocall controversy during the primary. Politico's Ben Smith has been tracking robo calls in general and the Huffington Post's Sam Stein has issued a call to action on the Ayers calls in particular -- calling on readers to get their members of Congress on record about the robos that now all the world can hear with a click. #

  • Assessing the Influence of the Netroots, the Power of Drudge: Former Hillary Clinton Internet adviser Peter Daou is arguing that what shouldn't be forgotten on November 5th is how the netroots did its part to close the famed "Daou triangle" formed by the blogosphere, traditional media, and political establishment. As evidence, Peter cites the media narratives that, fueled by the netroots, seem to have coalesced around John McCain and Barack Obama. Peter's right -- it'll certainly be interesting to see how the netroots is judged in the post-George Bush era. And when it comes to online juice, Matters Eric Boehlert is making the cash that Matt Drudge's campaign influence is waning. What's happened, suggests Eric, is that the complex and weighty reality the United States is now obviously facing "knocks Drudge completely out of his element of frivolous, partisan gotcha links." #

  • A Playful MoveOn Makes You a Cable News Goat: MoveOn's new CNNBC video stars *you* in the role as the one single pro-Obama voter who failed to vote, thus keeping him out of the Oval Office. You can then send your video of shame, but one caveat -- given the generic and (uneditable) message in the email, a few recipients have thought it was actually one of those viruses that commandeers your address book. When taken together with MoveOn's playful Partnership for a McCain Free White House site, starring "Gossip Girl" stars Blake Lively and Penn Badgley, it seems like when it comes to tone, MoveOn is taking its cue from the Obama campaign in the home stretch; this is a far kinder, gentler organization than the one that branded General David Petraeus "General Betrayus." #

  • The Games We Play and (Obama Should): A new in-game survey conducted by Rock the Vote and Xbox Live susses out what gamers care most about. At 35%, "jobs and the economy" topped the list of worries. The environment and foreign policy both came in at just under 20%, while sore thumbs garnered 3%. (Thanks Brett Schenker) Also on the gaming front, with the news that the Obama campaign had bought advertising space in "Burnout Paradise" and more than a dozen other games, National Journal's Ad Spotlight has some, uh, creative suggestions for where Obama can spend his considerable monies to break more new high-tech advertising ground -- from being the game (Think "Fight the Smears: Barack Battles Back") to in-podcast advertising. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • The Masters of Repurposing -- One Hot Tax Calculator Widget: If there's one thing that Obama's new media team has done one thing particularly well this campaign, it's this: repackaging. Repurposing content is one of the tenets of online business; a particular popular blog post of late features 37signals founder and tech opinion-leader Jason Fried expounding upon the virtues of reusing digital stuff. Team Obama, for example, recently took its Obama-Biden Tax Calculator and turned into into a widget, making it trivial for anyone to embed it on their website or Facebook page or MySpace profile. And many have. Since its release 11 days ago, the calculator has been embedded more than 2,400 times and viewed more than 750,000. What's more, the campaign seems to operate under the principle of "hey, if we have to spend time making it anyway, why not throw it online and see if anyone can use it?"'s Download Center has well-designed graphic banners for every state in the union, custom logos for everyone from Environmentalists for Obama to Republicans for Obama, blank house party sign-in sheets, templates for issue flyers, and much more. It's one more way they're besting the McCain camp online. Team McCain must be creating digital assets for its own purposes, but they're keeping them under lock and key. offers social-networking icons and site banners, but not much else. #