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Daily Digest: Is the Internet Reviving Old-Fashioned Politics?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 29 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Your Next Work Task: Go Vote: Out of the minds of Google's Creative Lab's, where Googlers go to whip up the future, comes CEOs from eBay's John Donahoe to KPMG's Tim Flynn to the Donald himself urge their minions to take an hour from their work day to go vote. The site, inspired by a finding from the 2004 election that the number one reason for not voting was "too busy," is an admirable effort. But, um, if early voting is any indication for a lot of people and in a lot of places, an hour isn't going to cut it. Maybe is still available. The site's set up so that your CEO (or you if you're top dog) can record a similar message. #

  • The Party Behind, Way Behind, the Candidate: What's missing from, asks Mother Jones' Jonathan Stein. The answer is: a guy by the name of John McCain. The Republican party site has, finds Jonathan, scant mention of their presidential nominee, beyond some outdated calls to action and a button to click if you want a McCain-Palin lawn sign. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee's site features Barack Obama front and center -- including what is perhaps the single least understated splash page in the history of the Internet. #

  • The O'Reilly Guide to Obama: O'Reilly guide publisher, FOO camp founder, "web 2.0" coiner, and all around tech world opinion leader Tim O'Reilly is out with his presidential endorsement.'s Obama. In a lengthy piece, Tim homes in on the four top reasons he's backing Barack: connected government, the financial crisis, climate change, and network neutrality. Not surprisingly, Tim's commenters take issue with some of his critique, and what results is a healthy back and forth on the merits of Obama's candidacy. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Where Government Meets the Modern Social Web: Gartner Research group is out with a fascinating look at the state of government "social computing," which includes everything from social networks to collaborative web tools. What's possible, they report, is empowering governments to "facilitate the exchange of information and to establish novel collaboration patterns, often across organizational boundaries." But while there are hopeful signs that entrenched power is starting to grok the potential of the social web, Gartner finds that making good use of that knowledge is still a long way off. #

  • Winning Hearts and Minds Online, In the Field: There are indeed college kids excited about John McCain, finds the New York Times' Julie Bosman, who finds some at Penn State. But the campaign has largely left them hanging, failing to connect up with them online or arm them with ammunition against charges that the candidate is the wrong leader of the Internet age. But in a piece on the state of online campaigning by the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Rhoads, the RNC takes pride in how they're using targeted tech tools to pull in six times as many voters into their voter files as happened four years ago. Christopher also profiles how the Obama campaign has tracked down supporters in traditionally unfriendly territory for Democrats as Avery County, North Carolina. Branded "change crews," these cells of local volunteers operate largely independent of the campaign. That said, they're tethered to paid field staff through the Internet. Here's a thought to chew on, coming the founder of the VAN voter file system: "Ironically, it took the Internet to get us back to the old-fashioned way of doing politics." Agree, disagree? Let us know in the comments. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • The Web on Both Sides of the Voter Suppression Fence: When it comes to messing with how America votes, does the web giveth and the web taketh away? National Journal's David Herbert has a rich and detailed look at how voter suppression efforts are hitting the web, from misleading voter information emails to the viral spread of rumors. But he also notes that the web is being using to combat vote-dampening tactics. David's piece is a nice rundown at everything that's going on in this vibrant field, from Video Your Vote to the Twitter Vote Project to the Voter Suppression Wiki to the Election Protection Wiki to the Election Projection Coalition's Our Vote Live to...well, just read the piece. #

In Case You Missed It...

Micah Sifry profiles WhiteHouse2 and, two new projects that put the people's questions directly to the next president. Micah also takes a look at network thinker Valdis Krebs's fascinating findings on political book-buying habits, including that the buyers of conservative tomes are also picking up Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.

We're thrilled to announce that is now live, though we've branded it beta while the kinks are being worked out. It's taken a great deal of heavy lifting by a team of talented volunteers to pull off this effort in just a few weeks. Be sure to check out the site, but if you're pressed for time, I'll give you the lowdown: just tag your vote-related tweets with #votereport and the web will take it from there.