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First POST: The Bloggers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 18 2013

Edward Snowden's justification for his actions: no "government in the dark": tech insiders on the HealthCare.gov meltdown; more on why Pierre Omidyar's new venture could shake up online journalism; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Losers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 4 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers:: The secret list where Ted Cruz plots strategy; The American Prospect gives Jim Gilliam a full-length feature profile; Bitly shares real-data traffic data for the top 40 media sites in the US; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Bad Boys

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 26 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Understanding the Internet's role in the ongoing Republican crack-up; Cory Booker's Twitter flirtations; how email has changed your workplace for the better; and much, much more. Read More

Book Review: Our Computers, Ourselves--Living With Present Shock

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, June 21 2013

Douglas Rushkoff speaking at PDF 2013 (Photo by Esty Stein/Personal Democracy Media)

I read Douglas Rushkoff's new book Present Shock two months ago, and found myself underlining and taking notes on nearly every page. Somehow, he ties together dozens of seemingly disparate phenomena--the popularity of reality TV, the death of ideology, how news has been replaced by spectacle, our compulsion to constantly "check in" on our digital inputs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, even our culture's fascination with zombies and impending apocalypse--and finds the signal in all the noise. It's worth a listen. Here's my review. Read More

For Tea Party Groups, That "Digital Gap" With Democrats Doesn't Seem As Wide

BY Matt Taylor | Tuesday, January 29 2013

Tea Party groups used their own software to support Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's primary campaign in Texas. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Given FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey's tumultuous exit from the organization he helped found, a Republican Party now casting about for solutions to its electoral troubles could be forgiven for passing over Tea Party advice on organizational structure. But if grassroots conservatives have technology tips to share, GOP insiders looking for an upgrade might want to lend an ear. Read More

Further Down the Ballot, Little Love for a "Social Voting" Tool

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, November 5 2012

Rachel Norton, a vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education, says Votizen's interface "leaves a lot to desired."

The idea that new tools could make voting social has taken off among high-level campaigns that understand the power of one-to-one connections online. But at the grassroots, where Votizen's co-founders hope to grow most of their clients, this seed of an idea has yet to sprout. Read More

How Online Organizing Helped Ted Cruz Win His Republican Primary

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, August 2 2012

FreedomWorks volunteers canvassed voters all over Texas using software and data from Political Gravity

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Ted Cruz was the darling of the right yesterday as he basked in his victory over David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff for the chance to become Texas’ next U.S. senator. And he was the darling of the rightroots, too, many of whom turned out in force to support his candidacy.

A conservative, Tea Party-backed figure challenging the favored candidate of Gov. Rick Perry and establishment Republicans, Cruz won, reports say, thanks to a long and hard-fought ground campaign. But his primary effort is interesting because it shines a light on the structure of a modern Senate race, one that mixes traditional door-knocking with high-tech tools, editorial board meetings with blogger outreach, a corps of volunteers with the unpredictable influence of outside groups. Given that Cruz beat Dewhurst by taking nearly 57 percent of the vote according to preliminary returns, all despite being outspent three to one, it’s a campaign worth a closer look.

Independent observers, Cruz supporters and campaign staff aren’t saying that the Internet played a deciding role in his victory. It was a combination of these outside groups, Republican women and Cruz's own hard work that put him over the top, said Dave Jennings, a Texas blogger in the Southeast Houston area who supported Dewhurst.

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New Site Seeks to Aggregate User-Generated Political Videos

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 27 2012

A new website co-founded by activists Harry Waisbren and Bob Fertik aims to become a counterpoint to the flood of TV advertising paid for by super PAC money this election cycle. Waisbren and Fertik want Supervoters to become a go-to place for Macaca-moment type tracker video, humor and commentary, and videos from candidates, Waisbren said. "The problem is there isn't really a great way to consume all that content," he said. "The click-through rate on blogs isn't that high. Often a video does go viral on social networks but then it can disappear. People don't know where to go find it." Read More

Conservative Grassroots Group To Arm Tea Party Activists With Mobile Canvassing Tool

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 29 2012

American Majority Action, a conservative "social welfare" group, is unveiling a new initiative on Thursday that it hopes will help Republicans catch up with Democrats in the political technology arms race in the 2012 ... Read More

For Tea Partiers, A New Tool to Get Out the Vote On the Fly

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 12 2012

Tea Party activist group FreedomWorks for America is rolling out mobile voter canvassing and get-out-the-vote tools for supporters, it announced in a recent email.

Using the tool from the conservative-minded firm Political Gravity, FreedomWorks supporters are supposed to be able generate maps of doors knock on to find likely Republican voters and identifies folks who have cast ballots in three out of the past four Republican primary elections. Users of FreedomWorks' social network for Tea Party activists, Freedom Connector, will be able to access the app for selected campaigns where the organization has made an endorsement. Through the app, users who give their location get lists of nearby voters to contact and maps that trace a canvassing route through a neighborhood.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

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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