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Daily Digest: Working to Catch the Presidential Ear

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, November 6 2008

  • "Congratulations! Now, Hear Me Out on...": Let's hope President-elect Barack Obama had a restful Tuesday night, because it's about the only time in the next two and a half months that he won't have someone whispering in his ear with advice on what kind of presidency his should be. Popular Science's Daniel Engber has penned a Dear Mr. President letter on suggesting Obama "give the executive branch a complete technological makeover, endowing it with all the extraordinary capabilities of the modern Internet." The Center for American Progress' Science Progress, Mark Drapeau has advice on how social media can help his transition team manage the tremendous flow of information headed their way. has launched a Digg-like "Ideas for Changing America" exercise, with the goal of sending the top ten ideas on to someone involved in building the Obama administration. Then there is PdF/tP partner BigDialog, which is crowd-ranking questions for the next POTUS. The top three questioners will be flown to MIT next month to present their questions in a live networked event with members of the Obama transition team.

  • America's First CTO -- Who and What Power?: Perhaps even more important than the question of who will be the nation's first Chief Technology Officer is the matter of how much real juice he or she will have. Our Andrew Rasiej told Information Week's K.C. Jones that it remains to be seen whether the CTO job will be a Cabinet-level post, a special assistantship, or a position slotted into the White House hierarchy under the Chief of Staff. Andrew sees Google CEO Eric Schmidt as a likely candidate. Schmidt, however, has no government experience, and so another approach would be for Obama to pluck someone out of the small but vibrant government CTO world, like Virginia's able Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra. What America's first CTO would wants to avoid: the fate of John DiIulio, President George Bush's first pick as director of faith-based initiatives, who quit the administration when he realized he was little more than window dressing.

  • How Obama Won, Online: As we look forward, let's not forget to look back at how we got to where we are. The's Omar Wasow has a look at how Obama went from "Internet darling to leader of the Free World" by marrying online social organizing and offline grassroots politics. Wired's Sarah Lai Stirland makes her case for how the Internet won Obama the White House. (Sarah has a great quote from NDN's Simon Rosenberg, comparing Obama '08 to Bill Clinton's shoestring '92 campaign: "This is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit.") And the Nation's Ari Melber says forget what videos the campaigns or other pros cooked up -- voter-created spots topped YouTube's charts.

  • The Revolution Will Be Tweeted: Tuesday's electoral contests across the country certainly gave people something to talk about. Traffic on Twitter shot up 43% on Election Day, according to a release from the online tracking firm Hitwise -- and with nary a fail whale in sight. Other Hitwise numbers show that Tuesday's traffic on MySpace and Facebook only saw a slight 6% bump, though 4.5 million Facebookers did take to the site to say that they had cast a ballot. And in official campaign site news, while traffic to Obama's website showed a slight 6% bump on Election Day, visits to McCain's site actually dropped 18% on the day most of America was picking its next president.

  • Campaigns Were Hacked from Overseas: From Newsweek's almost sinfully delicious peek behind the scenes at the Obama and McCain campaigns, it turns out that earlier this summer both Obama and McCain's were the victims of computer attacks by an unknown "foreign entity." The FBI and Secret Service came in to investigate, delivering to the Obama campaign the ominous warning that "a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system."

  • Fake Sarah Calls It Quits, Inspires: Exiting with a eloquent goodbye note on the need to take government seriously again, the Twittering @FakeSarahPalin has called it quits. She leaves behind some 7,500 followers. We'll let Fake Sarah have the last word: "It has been fun making you laugh through this election. If you've laughed at us and found us funny, do us (and America) a favor: spend the next four years working to make America better."

In Case You Missed It...

Micah Sifry takes a quick pre-launch look at, the site being built by Blue State Digital for the Obama-Biden transition to the White House. Alan Rosenblatt explores what he says are the two ways to make use of MyBarackObama from here on out: keep it alive as an outside political community, or use it to make government more transparent and connected. And Colin Delany looks at four particular moments in the Obama campaign where, he says, the Internet saved the day.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.


friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.


The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.


wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.


EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”