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First POST: Experiments

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 29 2014


  • Lawrence Lessig's MayDayPAC is starting to roll out its "SuperPAC to defeat all the SuperPACs" strategy by spending as much as $4 million in New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively backing Republican Jim Rubens in his primary against Scott Brown and Democrat Staci Appel in an open seat race,reports Nicholas Confessore for The New York Times.

  • Pierre Omidyar posts an update on the development of his First Look Media. Most notably, he writes:
    We have definitely rethought some of our original ideas and plans. For example, rather than building one big flagship website, we’ve concluded that we will have greater positive impact if we test more ideas and grow them based on what we learn. We are unwavering in our desire to reach a mass audience, but the best way to do that may be through multiple experiments with existing digital communities rather than trying to draw a large audience to yet another omnibus site. And rather than immediately launching a large collection of digital “magazines” based on strong, expert journalists with their own followings, as we imagined earlier, we’ll begin by building out the two we’ve started and then explore adding new ones as we learn.

  • The ostensibly cross-partisan group No Labels gets lashed by Meredith Shiner in Yahoo News. Shiner writes that …"though No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, an internal document obtained by Yahoo News suggests the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find 'opportunity' and relevance for itself."

  • Women trying to raise money for their tech start-ups face everything from sexism from VCs to outright sexual harassment, reports Issie Lapowsky for Wired.

  • Mitt Romney shares slides from his family vacation out west, on Medium.

  • Few social justice groups make online fundraising a priority, writes David Callahan of InsidePhilanthropy, delving into a new study done by Cynthia Gibson for Public Interest Projects.

  • The dating site OKCupid revealed that it, like Facebook, has conducted experiments to gauge how its users respond to the information shown to them on the site. Maybe it's the lighthearted tone that the company's CEO, Christian Rudder, took, in explaining the experiments; or maybe it's the fact that he didn't say exactly how many people were manipulated in the course of these tests (Facebook's emotional contagion tests affected 700,000), but so far there's been little backlash.

  • After spending a week in Brazil learning up close about the process by which the country's Marco Civil de Internet (landmark legislation on how the country will handle net neutrality, online freedom and privacy), researcher Kate Krontiris (and PDM friend) reports that a high level of online public engagement definitely influenced the outcome, and if anything, the successful process was itself a major victory. She writes:
    In the United States, public trust in governance is at record lows – and I have observed through recent research that Americans are barely able to even perceive the presence and resources of government in their lives, even though they benefit from it multiple times per day.  If our mechanisms for public problem-solving looked more like that of the Marco Civil, might we more meaningfully utilize our opportunities to influence policy?

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