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First POST: Counting

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 9 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers:The latest details on the health care exchange signups (and problems); a new tech advocacy group launches; Nick Bilton's forthcoming book on Twitter gives the unvarnished version of its founding; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Longform

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Steven Johnson responds to Henry Farrell's critique of the "Tech Intellectuals"; Twitter's Evan Williams lays out his vision of the future of media; Freshman Rep. Justin Amash gets some respect for his NSA fight; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Spirit Guide

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersHow the NSA's programs may cost US tech businesses overseas; one Obama campaign tech guru's cryptic vision of the future; Tea Leaf Nation finds a new home; and much, much more. Read More

Book Review: Is the Internet Just Another Example of Monopoly Capitalism At Work?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 27 2013

Robert McChesney speaking at the 2008 National Conference on Media Reform (Photo from Blip.tv)

Robert McChesney, who is one of the cofounders of Free Press, the author of several books on the media, and a professor at the University of Illinois, says he always wanted to write a book about the Internet and the larger digital revolution. But he held off, because "grasping the Internet was like trying to shoot a moving target in a windstorm." Then he and John Bellamy Foster co-authored a 2011 article called "The Internet's Unholy Marriage to Capitalism" for Monthly Review and it hit a chord. The time, McChesney says, was finally ripe. I wish he had held his fire. Here's why: McChesney doesn't quite get the Internet. Again and again, in Digital Disconnect, he conflates the free and open net with the larger digital ecosystem, eliding or underplaying important distinctions between the actions and ambitions of big tech and communications companies and the behavior of individuals and networks online. Read More

Editorial: How @Google And Friends Can Build Local Internet Power

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 26 2012

Poster from Google's Take Action page against SOPA/PIPA

Just over two months ago, somewhere around 10 million people emailed, called, faxed and otherwise cajoled their Members of Congress to express their opposition to the Stop Online Privacy (SOPA) and Protect IP (PIPA) Acts. An approximated 115,000 websites either went "dark" or joined the campaign in related ways, with Google, Wikipedia, Firefox, Wordpress, and Tumblr all playing leading roles. In two days, legislation that had been moving through Congress like a dose of salts was withdrawn from consideration, with dozens of Members suddenly announcing their opposition, including many who had originally supported the bills. The Internet had won, at least this once. Micah Sifry asks, now what? He writes: "We urgently need a conversation about one other huge piece of the puzzle: What's going to happen with all those email addresses Google and the other anti-SOPA groups collected from people who responded to their call to action on January 18th?" Read More

With Newfound Influence, Will Internet Organizers Hack Politics As Usual?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, January 30 2012

MPAA Chief Chris Dodd should perhaps talk to the public via Reddit, rather than the "tech industry." Photo: Flickr/Wil Wheaton

The recent mass protests both online and off against anti-piracy legislation moving through Congress provided a tantalizing hint of the possibilities that can emerge when the powerful companies of Silicon Valley combine forces with grassroots organizers empowered with the tools of the web. Individuals from the usually disparate worlds of non-profits, venture capital, politics and programming and elsewhere united briefly for one day, took direction from more experienced activists and used the tools at their disposal to pull whatever levers they could to get their message across to legislators. Will the extraordinary success of the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) change the one industry that has resisted the disruptive influence of the internet, the industry of lobbyists on K-Street? Or will the moment pass — to be regarded in history as quirky exception to the general rule in which lobbyists almost always emerge triumphant? Read More

Seven Lessons from SOPA/PIPA/Megaupload and Four Proposals on Where We Go From Here

BY Yochai Benkler | Wednesday, January 25 2012

Yochai Benkler photo by Joichi Ito, CC-BY 2.0

A guest post from Yochai Benkler, who writes: "On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, a new model of politics succeeded in bringing to a halt legislation that had been pushed by some of the most powerful industry lobbies in Washington, which began its life with broad bi-partisan support in both chambers of Congress. The political calculus seems to have changed drastically this week, and we need to understand how to exploit and harness the changing winds to expand and lock in this initial victory." Read More

NYTimes Finally Frontpages the Rise of Networked Politics

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 28 2011

In case you missed it, the "paper of record" has a long front-page story today titled "As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe." It's kind of a goulash of anecdotes from Spain to Israel to India, with the ... Read More

The Fall of WikiLeaks: Cablegate2, Assange and Icarus

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 2 2011

I'm theoretically on vacation right now and scarcely in a position to do a deep dive into all the news and commentary, but here's one quick comment about WikiLeaks's decision to release the complete and unredacted ... Read More

At E-G8, Civil Society Groups Restake Their Claim on the 'Net

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, May 26 2011

One way to very quickly sketch out the history of business on the Internet is like this: after some debate over whether commerce should even be allowed online, in the mid-1990s Internet stakeholders -- including those ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Scotched

Why conservatives should back net neutrality; how big data may damage civil rights; the ways Silicon Valley start-ups are exploiting freelance workers; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Resets

Apple's new iOS8 promises greater user privacy; Occupy Wall Street three years later; how tech may tilt the Scotland independence vote; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Connecting the Dots

Take Back the Tech grades Facebook, Twitter, et al, on transparency; MayDay PAC founder Lawrence Lessig talks about getting matched funds; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Splits

USA Freedom Act divides Internet activists; Julian Assange's Reddit "Ask Me Anything"; New York's pro-net-neutrality protest; and much, much more GO

monday >

After Election Loss, Teachout and Wu Keep Up Net Neutrality and Anti-Comcast Merger Campaign

The Teachout/Wu campaign may have lost, but their pro net-neutrality campaign continued Monday as both former candidates participated in a rallly in New York City marking the final day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission's Internet proposals and kept up their pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo. GO

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