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Grassrootsiness

Watch out. Just because a campaign is using social media or getting a lot of support online, doesn't mean it's really grassroots. Claims of money raised via the Internet, as well as tallies of small donations versus large donors, or other newer metrics of public participation like Twitter retweets or YouTube views, don't prove anything. Such signs offer hints that a candidate or movement is resonating with the public, nothing more. If anything, campaigns often want to encourage the appearance of being "grassroots" while obscuring where the real money and power resides. The political media needs to be skeptical of this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too approach; too often what is said to be "grassroots" would be better described as "grassrootsy."

New Obama for America Page is a Jungle Gym for Donation Data

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, October 20 2011

Source: Barackobama.com Obama for America has released a website for users to explore data about the campaign's donor base, in order to celebrate, per the campaign, their one-millionth donor. The application allows users ... Read More

Grassroots vs Grassrootsy: How to Parse Technology's Role in Politics

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 18 2011

For a whole bunch of reasons, we should be on guard against claims that money given online, as well as tallies of small donations versus large donors, or other newer metrics of public participation like Twitter retweets ... Read More

CNN Coverage of Organizing for America: "President Obama's Grassroots Army"

BY | Friday, March 27 2009

Today on the Situation Room, CNN aired a segment on Organizing for America and volunteers' recent efforts to build support for the President's budget, as all the work being done to harness the energy of the largest ... Read More

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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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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

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