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Daily Digest: Welcome to the Nimble Web

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, July 10 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • The question today for the Get FISA Right movement -- the groundswell of support for a protest against Barack Obama's stance on surveillance legislation passed by the Senate yesterday -- is, where to next? After attracting tens of thousands of members in just a few weeks, how does an anti-FISA group evolve now that the bill is a settled question? The wiki/MyBarackObama/Twitter-based group now has a central hub. The site's discussion forum is entertaining ideas for next steps. Among them is the suggestion that the group join up with broader open government efforts like Change Congress or the Sunlight Foundation; other paths include sticking together as an Obama accountability movement or perhaps keeping a focus on civil liberties in the manner of the bipartisan Accountability Now PAC. Whichever path is chosen, as a technical matter, a few tweaks to the group's online tools and its off to the races. Related: one of the founders of the movement, Carlo Scannella, has written a post
    for TechPresident about how the effort came together; and Open Left's Chris Bowers offers praise and a nice chunk of change to movement leader Mike Stark.

  • Where in the world is John McCain? Good question. Slate's new Map the Candidates has you covered. It's a neat tool that ties the candidates' travels to video and stories from the trail.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Well, it's official -- Hillary Clinton has brought the contest to an end. The contest to chose a campaign t-shirt, that is. In an email plea this morning, Clinton asked for $50 contributions that will get you a shirt and help her pay down her campaign debt.

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Okay, let's break down what we're taking to calling the Twitter Dome Scandal. First, some background: it's generally agreed upon that the House of Representatives' existing rules on online communications are archaic, convoluted, and don't match up all that well with how the, you know, Internet, actually works. With that, let's begin:
    1. In late June, Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), who handles franking stuff for the House's Democratic leadership, sent a letter (pdf) attempting to clarify how members can use online video in the course of their official duties.
    2. This Tuesday, all heck broke loose. Twittering Republican John Culberson (R-TX) sounded the alarm about the Capuano letter via, naturally, Twitter. ("They are trying to ban my Twitters...") And then Twittering House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) jumped in with a fiery letter: "I’m writing to alert you to an attack on free speech that is making its way through Congress."
    3. The rest of us were left to wonder. Was the Capuano letter really an attack on free speech? Or did the directive actually represent a loosening of too-strict rules -- rules written by the past Republican leadership? Was this a demonstration of the sort of muddled thinking to be expected by silly congresspeople who don't get the web? Or perhaps we're all just pawns in an internal partisan maneuvering, the latest act in a decades-long effort by conservatives to paint liberals as against free speech? The situation was quite confusing!
    4. Yesterday, Capuano responded: "the ONLY item we seek to address is LOOSENING existing rules...Any assertion to the contrary is a lie. Perhaps the people spreading those lies should take some time to actually read the letter I wrote." (The statement most likely marked the first time the phrases "tantrum" and "political hyperventilation" were used together in an official congressional communication.)
    5. The Sunlight Foundation went the carpe diem route, quickly launching Let Our Congress Tweet (naturally, there's a hashtag -- #LOCT08). The micro-movement quickly took off!
    6. And then the backlash began... (thx @luigimontanez)

There, now you're caught up. Stay tuned for how this plays out.

In Case You Missed It...

Personal Democracy Forum's Dave Witzel is sitting down to a timely interview with the Open House Project's John Wonderlich at 2 p.m. EST today to discuss how to open up Congress by "paving the cow paths." Get yer questions in now.