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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together dozens of seemingly disparate phenomena--the popularity of reality TV, the death of ideology, how news has been replaced by spectacle, our compulsion to constantly "check in" on our digital inputs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, even our culture's fascination with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 tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

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EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

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