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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 today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

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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.


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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.


Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.