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Daily Digest: Can Republicans Learn to Stop Worrying and Embrace the 'Net?

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, November 21 2008

  • Obama Campaign's Trickle Down Belief in the Bottom Up: The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas has some exclusive numbers the Obama campaign's online operation. They are, of course, rather huge. Some 3 million donors made 6.5 million contributions online, for a grand total of more than $500 million dollars. Their email list, the campaign says, contains more than 13 million addresses. More than a million people signed up for their text messages. And, Vargas reports, new media director Joe Rospars had at least thirty staffers in wing of the campaign (though that's far fewer than the Post's earlier reporting of an Internet staff of 95). Yes, those are some eye-popping figures. But what's perhaps the true landmark change marked by the Obama campaign was the buy-in on the importance of technology at the highest levels. Rospars, reports Vargas, reported directly to campaign manager David Plouffe, and his work was championed and guided by Julius Genachowski -- an aide so trusted by Obama that he's now helping to direct his transition to the White House.

  • GOP Insurgents Stump for the Fierce Urgency of Getting Wired Now: That sort of belief in the useful power of the web at the highest levels is exactly what the Republican Party is missing, reports Mother Jones's Jonathan Stein. Stein reports on a fascinating exchange between techPres contributor Mike Turk and Republican National Committee brass about some casual YouTube videos -- and the mocking reaction to them by ABC News' The Note -- that exposed a divide over how to view the brave new world of online politics. (Though, it should be noted, that back-and-forth took place waaay back in 2005.) Sometimes, of course, you win by losing. The hope of the online GOP is that the latest painful election results provide the political establishment a swift kick in the pants.

  • Political Discourse, YouTube-Style: Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House's Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, has taken to YouTube to respond to President-elect Barack Obama's recent video address. (Though Markey couldn't actually post it as a response video, as the transition team has disabled the option.) Markey cleverly makes the medium his message, arguing that the decade-long broadband revolution that made it possible for a President-elect communicate via online video must be followed by a clean energy revolution. Ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) then shot back at Markey with a YouTube video that was all "oh no you didn't..." No, not really. Not yet. (Semi-related fun: Check out the Global Warming Committee's neat animated globe showing the planet's climate hotspots.)

  • Huh, Looks Like Facebook Really Can Get You a Job: Twenty-three year old Sean Flaherty is now State Representative-Elect Flaherty of Scarborough, Maine. And on the Inside Facebook blog, he talks about how he used Facebook to help him get elected. His very first campaign move, he says, was creating a "Sean Flaherty For Scarborough" Facebook group. He then actively worked supporters' news feed to gin up word-of-mouth. Great story, but is there any hard evidence that Facebook had an impact on the race? I'm sure Representative Flaherty will be happy to sit in the Maine State House pondering that question all day long.

  • Fixing the FCC Begins at Home (Page): Saying that the Federal Communication Committee's website "still looks like it was thrown together six weeks after Netscape went public over a decade ago," Ars Technica's Matthew Lasar details how needs to be upgraded -- particularly when it comes to public commenting on proceedings, an important part of the regulatory process that is unnecessarily archaic.

  • The Most Depressing Tweet You'll Get All Day: While the National Debt Clock might break at 14 digits, luckily (considering how the economy is going these days) Twitter has 126 more characters to work with. The national debt, standing today at $10,652,323,523,227.98, is now being tracked on Twitter at @nationaldebt, a project of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and their "I.O.U.S.A." documentary. It would probably be appropriate for each of these national debt tweets to have "FAIL" appended to them, but we guess it's kinda implied.

  • Summit on Social Networking for Social Change: There's a fascinating event happening in New York City from December 3rd, 4th, and 5th that you might want to put on your calendar. Inspired by Colombia's "No Más FARC" movement that began on Facebook, Howcast Media is bringing together Facebook, Google, MTV, the U.S. State Department, the leaders of online social justice movements, and others for an Alliance of Youth Movements Summit at Columbia Law School.

In Case You Missed It...

Nancy Scola has a taste of the hundreds of poignant photos messages to the President-elect that are pouring in to the Flickr group set up by the Guardian UK's Deadline USA blog, similar to the "We are not afraid" photos from the 2005 London bombings.

And Micah Sifry points us to debate taking place over the future of the Obama movement as an outgrowth of