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First POST: This Town

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

This Town

  • Public opinion is opposed to air-strikes in Syria, while congressional leadership opinion is congealing in favor. Are we headed for a repeat of the first vote on the Wall Street bailout, when conventional wisdom inside the Beltway was overwhelmed by populist sentiment outside it?

  • Senator John McCain makes light of his being spotted playing poker on his iPhone while waiting his turn to speak during yesterday's Senate hearing on Syria. The commenters on his Twitter post aren't very amused, however.

  • In case you need any more evidence, after Peter Hamby's report yesterday, that Washington's denizens are fully occupied by Twitter, and by each other, read New York magazine's study, done with third-party analytics firmTwiangulate, of who follows who in DC. We'd like to know which Members of Congress follow the most people from their own state, but that would imply that they actually think those people matter. (Note to self: Remember to use Twiangulate before it gets bought and deprecated by Twitter.)

  • Speaking of which, Topsy, the social search firm, has announced that it has indexed every Tweet since the beginning of Twitter, for your searching pleasure.

  • Buzzfeed details how former Vice President Al Gore's ambitious Climate Reality Project organization has shrunk from 300 employees in 2009 to just over 30 now, and its activism has diminished from running expensive TV ads and lobbying Congress to cheaper forms of digital activism. One example: Reality Drop, which tracks daily climate-related news stories and helps people "post prewritten comments on articles the group says distort the facts about climate change." At least they aren't being put in a lockbox.

  • Ready for Hillary has 781,000 likes on Facebook. In case you were wondering. That IS a lot. Back in September 2007, a group called "Stop Hillary Clinton (A Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)" had more than 400,000 members on Facebook.

  • Meanwhile, back on earth, our Sarah Lai Stirland asks, in a new piece just posted this morning, "Internet Privacy: Are Lawmakers Thinking About It All Wrong?"

In Other News Around the Web:

  • OMG. This short video by Ben Brandzel on the progress of the OPEN Alliance, a project that is quietly bringing together the major e-activist groups around the world (think USA's MoveOn, Australia's GetUp, the UK's 38 Degrees, Canada's LeadNow, Germany's Campact, and India's Jhaatka) to share ideas, resources and spawn new allies in more countries, should go down in history as the best monthly report any executive director has done for any organization, evah. OPEN stands for Online Political Engagement Networks, and Brandzel, who hails originally from MoveOn, is the movement's Johnny Appleseed. You read it here first. (h/t Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman)

  • Chris Osgood and Nigel Jacob, the co-chairs of Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics, offer three basic design principles for improving the interface between citizens and government in a guest post on the Living Cities blog.

  • Spendopedia, a new project of the Public Notice Research and Education Fund, launched last week. It's goal is to be a wiki for tracking questionable government spending. Think: NIH funding a study of the effects of hookah smoking, or EPA funding a study in China on treating swine manure. “Too often, information about wasteful spending pops in a news story or blog post, and then disappears into the black hole of the Internet," Joe Mansour, the project's founder, told The Washington Times. “Our goal for Spendopedia was to create a Wikipedia-style resource for citizens to learn more about how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.”

  • Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has unveiled a new website that makes it easy to study the finances of the state and its most populated 20 cities. (h/t Nancy Scola)

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists says Barrett Brown is in danger of going to prison for posting a link to a publicly available page on the web. On top of that, they warn that prosecutors are seeking a gag order to prevent Brown and his lawyers from talking to the media about the case.

  • The man who bought a sponsored Tweet to complain about British Airways losing his father's luggage has made it all the way to the pages of Time magazine. The tweet cost about $1000, Time reports.