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Organizing for America: "A Start-up With the Assets of Google"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, December 16 2013

OFA's Jon Carson addressing RootsCamp 2013 (Photo by Roshni Karwal)

To hear Jon Carson tell it, Organizing for America, the continuation of President Obama's massive 2012 political machine, was nothing but a one-man shop on January 20, 2013, just him sitting "in a Potbellies restaurant" near the White House charting out its future. Except for one thing. "We were a start-up that inherited the assets of Google." That is, as Carson, OFA's executive director, made clear at an open session last Friday morning at RootsCamp 2013, OFA isn't really a start-up at all, just a new bottle for all the campaign's old wine. And a much smaller bottle at that. For while OFA did inherit digital assets like the @barackobama Twitter account and its massive email list, it had to start from scratch raising money to pay for a staff and figure out what kind of role it could play as a loyal handservant to Obama in a post-campaign setting. Read More

First POST: System of a Down

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, November 21 2013

Clay Shirky dissects the managerial and cultural gap between politicians, government planners and technologists that underpins the HealthCare.gov mess; the GOP playbook for attacking Obamacare; Mike Allen's pro-business Playbook gets eviscerated; and much, much more. Read More

For Obamacare Supporters on Social Media, Success Stories Outweigh Website Glitches

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 19 2013

While new polling suggests President Obama is at the lowest popularity rating of his presidency due to the problems with the healthcare program roll-out and media attention has focused on the website's flaws, a group of grassroots supporters of the healthcare law are determined to spread Obamacare sign-up "success stories" through social media. Read More

OFA Targets Congress on Guns and Some Members Fire Back

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 27 2013

Whatever else you might say about Organizing for Action -- whose funding mechanism looks like a classic influence-peddling scheme -- the suggestion that the group is creating spam-bots to harass opposing members of Congress is ludicrous on its face. Read More

Jeremy Bird on the Future of Organizing for America, 2012 and Beyond

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 5 2012

"We weren't quick enough out of the gate," four years ago, says Jeremy Bird, the national field director of President Obama's re-election campaign. "We will be quicker this time." He's not talking about the race just concluded. He's talking about how Organizing for America, the president's political organization, operated in the days and months after Obama's first election in 2008, compared to what is coming now. Read More

After Obama 3.0, What Will 4.0 Look Like? TheAction.org Isn't Waiting for the Answer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 21 2012

What next for the millions of people, tens of thousands of volunteers and several thousand staff who came together to propel Barack Obama to re-election? Will there be a real "outside" Washington strategy to put pressure on recalcitrant Members of Congress? Will they use the massive lists and online presence that were built around the campaign? Organizers of TheAction.org say they aren't waiting for answers to these big questions, but they are mobilizing to tap Obama's post-election, online and off, to try to keep him from compromising on repealing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Read More

What Role for Obama's Organizers in a Second Term?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 7 2012

Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, Obama 2012 national field directors

Having won re-election in large degree by rebuilding a massive campaign organization, will Barack Obama do anything differently this time in how he relates to that base? There were hints in his victory speech last night that perhaps something might be different this time. Read More

Hidden in Plain View: Obama 2012's Organizing Blueprint

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 3 2012

Image from "Campaigning to Engage and Win: A Guide to Leading Electoral Campaigns."

Yesterday, the New Organizing Institute, a progressive training center, published a 210-page manual titled, "Campaigning to Engage and Win: A Guide to Leading Electoral Campaigns." Written by and for campaigners at every level of politics, it is also the Obama 2012 field strategy, hidden in plain view. It is also an argument for a different way of campaigning than the traditional reliance on fundraising and TV ads, one that calls for starting earlier and engaging supporters more deeply in all aspects of a campaign's life, and one that builds on the one thing that may make campaigns in the digital age different: thanks to technology, it makes sense to involve more people. Indeed, it may be the best way to win. Read More

Obama Raises a Whopping $86M, But Not As Grassroots as They Want You To Think

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 13 2011

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has announced that Obama 2012 has raised a whopping $86 million in the second quarter of this year, shattering George W. Bush's prior record of $50 million in a quarter, and way ahead ... Read More

Obama's "Big Things" Email is an "Unforced Error"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 28 2011

As Nancy Scola noted here yesterday, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina may be an unlikely video star, whose David Plouffe-like "strategy update" to the campaign's base has been getting almost as many views as one from ... Read More

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Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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