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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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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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