NDN Blog

Thursday New Tools Feature: Apple Stays Ahead of the Curve

For those of you who didn't spend all of Monday simultaneously watching four different tech liveblogs, here are some of the highlights from Apple's WWDC 2009:

There were a lot of exciting announcements for Apple geeks like myself ($29 upgrade to 64bit Snow Leopard OS with free Exchange support! 7 hours of battery life for the new MacBooks!), but probably the biggest news for most people is the next-generation iPhone. Apple's new iPhone, dubbed the "3GS" (the S is for speed, apparently), will be available on June 17th in 16 and 32 GB flavors ($199 and $299, respectively). The 3GS includes a 3 megapixel camera (see sample picture at right), compared to the old 2 MP camera, and the new camera also features autofocus, tap focus, and video recording. It also includes a built-in compass, voice dialing, and a faster processor.

The most important of these upgrades is the processor, the part which gives the 3GS its "S." The new 600MHz (same speed as the Palm Pre) processor makes this iPhone about twice as fast when running many applications, and its graphic processor supports OpenGL ES 2.0, while the 3G only supports ES 1.1. This means that the new iPhone will be able to run some pretty cool games in the future which won't be available on the old one.

Owners of the old iPhone will still be able to download the new 3.0 OS, which will come standard on the 3GS phones. Version 3.0 adds many things that iPhone users have been griping about, such as cut and paste, MMS (immediately on most carriers, late summer on ATT here in the states), landscape keyboard mode, and tethering (except on ATT, again), as well as push notification support and developer support for accesories and external devices.

This last bit in particular is big news. Here are a few examples of apps Apple showed off at WWDC 2009, courtesy of engadget:

The new Zipcar app users GPS to find where you are and shows you all of the Zipcar locations year you. You can then tap on any location to see a list of available cars, their specs and pricing, reserve one, and even unlock it from your phone.

They also showed a demo of TomTom's slick new turn-by-turn navigation app and car kit, which effectively renders standalone GPS units obsolete and irrelevant.

Finally, one of the coolest apps in the demo takes advantage both of the new exteranal device support and push notification to do something really remarkable and, for lack of a better word, awesome. The app, from Airstrip Technologies, allows doctors to receive a patient's information on their iPhone. So, the way this works is that a patient has, say, a heart monitor attached to their iphone. This sends information that the doctor can check on their iPhone at any time. If something abnormal happens, the program can send a push message to the doctor. It can also send lab info to the doctor; in the demo, the doctor receives a notification that says "New lab result for David Smith: Critical Value - Potassium level under 3.0" The doctor can then tap "view" to see all of the patient's stats (see picture).

Apple also unveiled an awesome e-reader app with an extensive book store and an app that connects your iPhone to your amp and guitar and allows you to choose different effects, amp sounds, and even different "virtual" tunings. All of this on a single device. The mobile revolution continues to accelerate, and the impact it will have on our lives over the next decade is difficult to overstate.

Monday Buzz: Pronunciation Pickle, Pandemic Partners, Parsimonious Power, More

Michael Moynihan's new post on Smart Grid technology was picked up last week in the Huffington Post and also by another NDN, the North Denver News.

Andres was quoted on Judge Sotomayor's nomination in the Las Vegas Sun:

...The Sotomayor bloopers have been so ripe that David Letterman has launched a “Sonia Sotomayor Pronunciation Roundup,” and Jon Stewart aired some greatest hits.

This is happening in a nation where the Hispanic population has been the fastest growing major demographic group, increasing by 200 percent or more in seven states, including Nevada, from the census of 1990 to the census of 2000. The nation has spent countless hours arguing over illegal immigration — in Congress, on the airwaves, in our communities. We have debated whether ballots should be English-only.

Yet somehow in all those conversations, the basic intonations of the Spanish language did not sink in.

Andres Ramirez, vice president of Hispanic programs at the progressive Washington think tank NDN, reminds that “for many in this country, the emergence of the Hispanic culture ... is still fairly new.”

Nelson Cunningham, the chair of NDN's Latin America Policy Initiative, had an excellent Op-ed in Sunday's Houston Chronicle about how the H1N1 crisis helped bring Mexico and the U.S. closer together. Here's an excerpt from the piece:

Presidential summits have a well-deserved reputation for being much talk and much less action. President Barack Obama’s April 16 summit in Mexico City with that country’s president, Felipe Calderon, certainly had its share of high-flown, friendly sounding rhetoric.

“Today … we have confirmed the determination of both governments to consolidate the very, very close contacts and links that join and bring together Mexico and the United States,” President Calderon offered. “I see this visit … as an opportunity to launch a new era of cooperation and partnership between our two countries,” President Obama responded.

And then, just seven days later, that rhetoric was put to a real test. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Mexican citizens were thought to be sick with a new epidemic flu, and dozens or even hundreds were thought to be already dead. The disease seemed to have almost immediately spread to the United States — including at least one member of President Obama’s traveling party in Mexico. Within days, Mexico City was effectively shut down and newspapers in both countries — and around the world — blared the possible arrival of a major new pandemic influenza with the potential to kill millions around the world.

And in the face of mounting hysteria, the response of both Mexico and the United States was an almost perfect display of the cooperation and partnership the presidents had loftily promised.

You can also read the full text of Nelson's piece here.

Finally, Rob ventured into the bizarre alternate universe we know as CNBC to discuss Secretary Geithner's trip to China. Check it out:

Thursday New Tools Feature: Wave Goodbye to Old Methods of Communication and Collaboration

At Google's recent "I/O" developer conference in San Francisco, the company unveiled an intriguing new tool called Wave, which Google deems its attempt to "reinvent email for the 21st century." That is, however, an inaccurate and outdated way of thinking about what Wave really is. Wave is a web-based, open-source platform that is designed to seamlessly integrate communication and collaboration. That may sound a little vague, so take a look at it in action:

This is only a preview of the developer version, so it is likely to evolve significantly from where it is right now. But even in this early stage, it shows a huge amount of potential. Sometimes, Google releases things that elicit a brief "oh, cool" reaction but then fade from the radar screen. I think Wave will be different for a number of reasons, but the biggest is that it allows users to take advantage of the internet in a more natural and organic way, a way more in tune with the nature of the internet itself. After seeing the demo, Joe Trippi tweeted "Just posted the Google Wave demo on my blog - definitely check it out if you haven't yet. What do you think? Game changer?" and then later, "More on Google Wave. Did they just reinvent online communication?" The people at ReadWriteWeb, after doing a hands-on trial, write:

What we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg, but we can already envision how this could replace our internal chat room here at RWW, and how it could revolutionize the way employees in a company communicate. Wave definitely takes some getting used to, but once you get into the flow of things, regular email suddenly feels stale and slow.

While Google is busy reinventing how we collaborate together on the web, the White House is busy trying to bring these kinds of innovations into government. As part of the Open Government Initiative, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, the Obama Administration held a "Brainstorm" using IdeaScale. Once again, I like the top entries (athough they will, of course, be ignored), but this time the IdeaScale thing is just one part of a three-phase process which also includes a discussion phase, where users discuss the ideas brought up in the brainstorm, and then a "draft" phase where users will "Collaborate on crafting constructive proposals to address challenges from the Discussion phase." It's an ambitious evolution of the Administration's efforts in this sphere, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it. 

Rob on CNBC's "The Call"

Yesterday, Rob Shapiro, the Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative, went on CNBC to discuss Secretary Geithner's trip to China. Check it out:

Monday Buzz: Immigration, ObamaNet, Una Latina en la Suprema Corte, and More

NDN was one of the first organizations in Washington to explain and celebrate the growing influence of Hispanics in American politics. So it's no surprise that we drove the narrative on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination in many of the nation's largest media outlets. Simon discussed the impact of Sotomayor's nomination in the USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, Politics Daily, and the Mexican paper Excelsior. Here are a few excerpts. From the SF Chronicle article, which also makes extensive use of NDN polling data:

But the president's decision to nominate a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants will have impacts far beyond the court, said Simon Rosenberg, who heads NDN, the Washington, D.C., think tank formerly known as New Democrat Network.

Rosenberg called it "an acknowledgement and affirmation of the great demographic changes taking place in America today. The percentage of people of color in the United States has tripled in just the past 45 years, and America is now on track to become a majority-minority nation in 30 to 40 years."

Andres Ramirez, NDN vice president of Hispanic programs, said the demographic wave has reshaped voting patters and elections and will recast the look of Congress - and the fortunes of the two major political parties - in the next decade.

In the USA Today piece, Simon talks about how Obama will use his online advocacy machine to push his Supreme Court pick:

"Look, the Obama team is using all the tools every day, and we should expect that," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network, and a pioneering advocate of the use of new media in politics. "This (nomination rollout) had clearly been in the works for some time. They were prepared. They were firing on many cylinders. This is going to be a full, frontal battle over the next several months and the administration is ready and confident."

But that doesn't mean it will be clear sailing.

"It won't be the old pitched battles where there would be 20 or 30 traditional groups fighting it out in Washington," Rosenberg said. He said "amped up" communications through blogs and social networks make a more complicated debate with more actors and activists involved.

And from Salon:

"The Republicans are going to have to be extremely careful," Simon Rosenberg, who's spent a long time analyzing the role of Hispanics in American politics as president of the New Democrat Network, told Salon. "After years of demonizing Hispanics, if they oppose her and it looks political, they're risking further injury with this fast-growing segment of the electorate... There's no road back for the Republican Party that doesn't have them repudiating what they've done on race over the last generation."

Andres also weighed in on Channel 13 Action News in Las Vegas on Sotomayor's nomination, and discussed how Nevada figures into the immigration reform fight in the Las Vegas Sun:

The Republican Party’s stance puts it “in a delicate position” with the increasingly important Hispanic electorate in Nevada and nationwide, according to Andres Ramirez, vice president of Hispanic programs at NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization.

In Nevada, three of four Hispanic voters supported Obama in the general election, according to exit polls — the second-highest show of support among Hispanics nationwide, after New Jersey. In the same election, Hispanics cast 15 percent of all votes in Nevada, a 50 percent increase compared with 2004’s tally.

Immigration, Ramirez said, is a litmus test for Hispanic voters — if they think a candidate, or party, is hostile on the issue, they will show less interest in the candidate’s or party’s overall platform. This occurred in the 2008 election, analysts say.

So the party could “risk alienating Hispanic voters more” by opposing a comprehensive bill, Ramirez said.

Finally, Simon was the kicker quote in a story in the Boston Globe on business warming to the Democrats.

Thursday New Tools Feature: Optimistic Android

Yesterday, TeleGeography released a new report projecting that by the year 2013,

  • there will be 700 million broadband subscribers worldwide, an increase of 76%
  • there will be over 2 billion new mobile subscriptions, an increase of 60%
  • wired phone line subscriptions will actually decline slightly worldwide

Furthermore, much of this growth is coming from the developing world. NDN and our affiliate the New Policy Institute recently released a paper, Harnessing the Mobile Revolution, which explores just how big of an impact this explosion of mobile infrastructure can have in poor countries in improving healthcare outcomes, combating poverty, and promoting democracy. So we're very encouraged by these projections.

Another important thing to note is that by 2013, smartphones will be much more ubiquitous and even more capable than they are at present. There's a ton of hype around the immenent release of the Palm Pre and the 3rd generation iPhone, which is likely to remain the class leader, but Google also just announced that there will be between 18 and 20 new phones running their mobile OS, Android, by the end of the year (two are pictured here).

Android is a powerful and highly customizable OS which continues to develop impressively, but until now it has been hindered by its hardware matches. Android also features an application store similar to Apple's, and although Apple still pretty much owns the app space (which it created), Android's app store does have the appeal of being completely open and uncensored (on some phones, depending on the carrier), unlike Apple's regulated App Store, which sometimes intentionally limits the iPhone's functionality.

The proliferation of these phones is in some ways more exciting than the spread of cheap netbooks - mobile phones today are more powerful and can do more things than most computers just a few years ago. Look for more from NDN in the coming weeks on this critical issue, which is huge not just for American politics but for global society. It will be very interesting to see what happens as much of the world comes online.

Tuesday Buzz: Simon on Sotomayor's Selection, Millennials May Doom the GOP, Obama Finds the Middle

Simon's statement today on the selection of Sonia Sotomayor was featured in the Chicago Tribune. Here's an excerpt from the article: 

"President Obama's pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court is an acknowledgement and affirmation of the great demographic changes taking place in America today,'' says Simon Rosenberg, president of New Democrat Network.

"Driven by years of immigration, our nation is going through profound change,'' he suggests today. "The percentage of people of color in the United States has tripled in just the past 45 years, and America is now on track become a majority-minority nation in the next 30-40 years.

"The movement of our nation from a majority white to a more racially complex society is perhaps the single greatest societal change taking place in our great nation today,'' he suggests.

"And if the Supreme Court is to have the societal legitimacy required to do its work, its justices must reflect and speak to the people of America of the 21st Century,'' he says.

"The pick of Judge Sotomayor, a highly qualified, twice-Senate confirmed Latina to serve as one of the nine judges overseeing our judicial system, will not only put a thoughtful and highly experienced judge on the Supreme Court, it will go a long way toward making the Supreme Court one that can truly represent the new people and new realities of 21st Century America."

Rob was quoted in a national Associated Press story about Obama's move toward the center on some issues:

Rob Shapiro, a former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, said Obama's winning of congressional support for the $787 billion economic stimulus plan soon after taking office, mostly on terms he wanted, remains a major achievement.

The next crucial test will be whether Obama can make progress on health care overhaul, a signature proposal for his first term, said Shapiro, now with NDN, a centrist think tank formerly known as the New Democratic Network. Some of the other issues matter less, since presidents rarely get everything they want even from a Congress controlled by their own party, he said.

"Obama calls himself a pragmatist. That often ends up with fairly centrist policies," Shapiro said. "In the end, the progressives, the left in Congress, will support the president even on getting a half loaf in health care rather than a full loaf," he added.

Finally, Morley and Mike's recent LA Times Op-Ed was re-published in The Oregonian this week, and was also featured in The Arizona Republic, DailyKos and MyDD.

Weekly Address: President Obama Honors America's Veterans, Men and Women in Uniform

In his weekly address, President Obama payed tribute to America's servicemen and women, calling on us to remember what Memorial Day is meant to honor -- the sacrifies of those who protect us:

This Memorial Day weekend, Americans will gather on lawns and porches, fire up the grill, and enjoy the company of family, friends, and neighbors. But this is not only a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on what this holiday is all about; to pay tribute to our fallen heroes; and to remember the servicemen and women who cannot be with us this year because they are standing post far from home – in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.

On Friday, I traveled to Annapolis, where I spoke at the Commencement of the United States Naval Academy. It was an honor to address some of America’s newest sailors and Marines as their Commander-in-Chief. Looking out at all of those young men and women, I was reminded of the extraordinary service that they are rendering to our country. And I was reminded, too, of all of the sacrifices that their parents, siblings, and loved ones make each day on their behalf and on our behalf.

The full transcript is available here. Watch the video below:

Thursday New Tools Feature: Federal Digitial Data Dump

In its continuing effort to bring our government into the 21st century along with the rest of us (excepting Republicans, who really put the OLD in G.O.P. these days), the Obama administration today launched a transparency and open government initiative. Check out this video of Valerie Jarrett introducing the initiative today: 

As one of the first "featured innovations" of this initiative, the Obama administration also launched a new Web site, data.gov. According to the introductory blurb on this new site,

The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, Data.gov will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Strictly speaking, there isn't really any *new* information here, but even though it is somewhat limited in scope at this point, data.gov is already a very powerful set of tools that makes it much easier to mine the vast depths of data generated by the government. They have already aggregated and indexed a staggering amount of information, and made it easily and instantly searchable.

Unless you've been desperately searching for all of the most current statistics on marriage and divorce rates in the U.S., you may have trouble getting too excited about this. But here's why it matters:

A former teacher of constitutional law, President Obama has so far received mixed marks on government openness and transparency. In particular, his decisions to keep past abuses covered up (see recent decisions not to release detainee abuse photos or the missing Bush emails), and even to continue controversial Bush-era policies on state-secret privilige, warrantless wiretapping, "national security letters", rendition and the use of black sites, tribunals, and indefinite detention, have been (justly) criticized by progressives.

But Obama has also done a lot to open up government, from his bottom-up campaign style to his virtual press conferences and citizens' briefing book. And while data.gov doesn't tell us anything new per se, it is a very powerful rejoinder to the myth that government need always be an inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare (one of the chief conservative rationales for privatizing everything). The government of the 21st century can be very different from that of the 20th, and with tools like data.gov, Obama is showing us how.

Monday Buzz: Meghan McCain, MTV and Millennials, Meet Sergio, More

NDN Fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais continued their media run this week. They were featured extensively in a front-page story by Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle which also ran in a number of other papers. Here's an excerpt from the Chronicle:

"...That's the kind of positioning it will take to appeal to more millennials," says author Mike Hais, a fellow with NDN, the Washington think tank formerly known as the New Democrat Network. And the party will be in a stronger position "to the extent that Meghan and others will find a way to appeal to Republicans by de-emphasizing the extremes on social issues."

NDN fellow Morley Winograd, who along with Hais co-authored "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics," says the younger McCain's growing following underscores an "underlying conflict" in the party - between opposing forces and generations. The co-authors will speak tonight at an NDN seminar in San Francisco that will examine the effects of the millennial vote. Winograd says that vote will determine the GOP's future "for the next 20 years," when the generation will comprise 1 out of every 3 American voters.

"We have realignment," with the GOP extremely fractured, he said.

Ron Brownstein also quoted them very heavily in The Atlantic:

Another set of numbers Gallup released earlier this month shows how Obama's strength can bolster his party. Gallup cumulated all of its 123,000 interviews this year to examine party identification in the electorate. Among the Millennial generation, it found that just 21% identify as Republicans, compared to 36% as Democrats and 34% as independents. "Republicans, for all practical purposes, aren't even on the radar screen with them," says Michael D. Hais, a fellow at the Democratic advocacy group NDN, and co-author of Millennial Makeover, a recent book on the generation.

The enormous advantage among young people for Obama in particular and Democrats in general matters for two reasons. The more immediate is that this generation, which is generally defined as the 93 million people born between 1983 and 2002, will comprise a rapidly increasing share of voters through the next decade. Hais and his co-author, Morley Winograd, also an NDN fellow, have calculated that in 2008, 41% of Millennials were eligible to vote, and they constituted 17% of the electorate. They project that by 2012, 61% of the Millennials will be eligible, and they'll comprise 24% of the electorate; by 2016, the numbers will reach 80% and 30%. By 2020, virtually all of them will be eligible and they could constitute as much as 36% of all voters. If Obama maintains anything near his current strength among Millennials, they will produce a substantially larger vote surplus for him in 2012 than they did in 2008-leaving Republicans a larger deficit to overcome with older voters.

Obama's strength among young people has a second, even more significant, implication: if Republicans cannot reverse it reasonably soon, it could harden into a lasting preference for Democrats in this huge generation. Political scientists and political strategists generally divide into two camps over how partisan allegiances are formed. The lifecycle camp argues that people's views change at different points in their life, with many voters, for instance, becoming more averse to taxes as they acquire families and mortgages. Surely some of that occurs; few people's political preferences are entirely static or so deeply held they cannot be disrupted, at least temporarily, by events.

But probably the dominant camp believes partisan allegiances are forged mostly by the social, economic and political experiences that shape a generation's upbringing. As Winograd and Hais wrote, "Members of the electorate are most easily persuaded when they are young, before their beliefs harden into attitudes they will retain throughout their lives."


Winograd and Hais believe Republicans can't do much to detach young voters from Obama if the president is seen as succeeding. In Millennial Makeover, they argue that many of this generation's formative experiences-their diversity, their tolerance of difference, and the patterns of parenting that inclined them to find collective "win-win" solutions-already inclined them toward Democratic beliefs. The perception that Bush failed in the White House reinforced the Millennials' tilt toward Democrats; now Obama, they maintain, has the chance to cement those ties. "They already know that Republicans messed up a la Bush; the question is will Obama turn out to be the successful president they all expect him to be?" Winograd said. The analogy, Winograd and Hais maintain, could be the way Franklin Roosevelt's success built upon Herbert Hoover's failure and created a generation of FDR Democrats that bolstered his party for decades. In the same way, they argue, if Obama succeeds, he "could be the final piece" bonding this generation to Democrats. Of course, if he fails, those bonds could be severely strained, especially since young people have invested so much hope in him.

In addition to their quotes, Morley and Mike had a great Op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, entitled "Do you get the Millennial Generation?"  

Andres also had a big Op-ed today in Roll Call, entitled "Hispanics Poised to Flex Muscle in Politics, Policy." Check it out!

NDN's longtime friend Sergio Bendixen was profiled by Real Clear Politics last week, in a story entitled "One of the Most Important Men in Politics You Haven't Heard Of." He gives Simon and NDN a nice shout-out:

...And I think my most important contribution to the Democratic Party was alerting them to what was going on and unless they worked it they couldn't count on Hispanic votes in the future. And that became very true because in 2002 and 2004 the Republicans got a substantial percentage of the Hispanic vote with George Bush leading the way and Jeb Bush basically being the architect. That became a very important part of what I did which was a wake-up call to the Democratic Party with the help of Simon Rosenberg and the New Democrat Network which helped me deliver that message and Hillary was there all the way.

Lastly, Michael Moynihan's newest piece, "Cap and Market This Year," was featured in Grist.

Syndicate content