Political Technology

Intellectual Property: From Sweden, With Love

Wired News features a captivating two-part series following piracy in Sweden. In the first part, we learn about the Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent tracking website that touts some remarkable facts and figures: the site has "an international user base and easily clears 1 million unique visitors a day." In Sweden, it appears the culture of piracy is, well, different. Simply put, "the administrators of the Pirate Bay believe the law is wrong."

The second part offers both sides of the story. It chronicles the entry of Rickard Falkvinge, a man who created the Swedish Pirate Party, into politics, and the role of the mysterious Pirate's Bureau. Marianne Levin, the Swedish representative of the MPAA, also gets to tell her side of the story. Both sides have become accustomed to the others' slandering words.

But this really caught my eye: "Parting with many copyright minimalists in the United States, [Pirate's Bureau] acknowledges that file sharing can do real harm to rights holders." This certainly shifts the debate - in Sweden they're not downloading in dark corners and alleyways, so to speak. They're doing it openly, civilly disobedient to a system they believe is flawed. It has become the job of others to persuade them that pirating is even wrong at all.

Video in Politics: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Three stories about political video in its various forms.  From the established media format of the political ad, as produced by the DSCC, to the new, potentially viral video of George Allen, to the legally murky status of the 'VNR,' here is how video continues to play an important role in the new politics.  

The DSCC has released a new ad Secure, undercutting Republican rhetoric on homeland security.  Note the alternating examples of debacles abroad: too few troops in Iraq, failure to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, and shortcomings at home: cuts in law enforcement budgets, lax port security, etc.

Republican Senator (and potential 2008 Presidential candidate) George Allen released a much less targeted piece of media yesterday.  At a campaign rally in Southwest VA, Allen singled out S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American campaign aide to Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, calling Sidarth "macaca" and offering a sarcastic "welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."  Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County, VA and it'll be interesting to see how this "macaca" comment plays in Iowa or in the DSCC's next ad.

The Center for Media and Democracy has released a report on what are called 'video news releases' or VNRs.  VNRs are fake news pieces produced by corporations, and it is illegal to air them without disclosing their source.  The report found 77 examples of local television stations violating this law, triggering an FCC investigation.  The corporations producing these VNRs must be taking cues from the Bush administration, which produced its own fake news stories, until the GAO declared them "illegal covert propaganda."  

Telephia Study: 34.6 Million Users Browsed Web on Mobile Phones in June 2006

As cross posted in a tech blog I run called mobile democracy, new data is out today from research company Telephia shows that today, over 81% of Internet users have phones capable of browsing the web using the latest Web mobile standards . And that currently about 34.6 million users browsed the web in June using mobile phones.

Read their press release from Telephia research here, but some here are some highlights…

The most popular sites browsed over phones are as you might expect (weather, mail, search and local info)…but also news with CNN being the 8th most popular mobile site seeing almost 2.8 million mobile users in June.

Top Mobile Websites for June 2006 (U.S.)

Mobile Website Unique Audience (000) Reach of Subscribers

1. Yahoo! Mail 6,531 3.0%
2. The Weather Channel
(Weather.com) 5,827 2.7%
3. ESPN 5,345 2.5%
4. Google Search 4,356 2.0%
5. MSN Hotmail 3,441 1.6%
6. MapQuest 3,067 1.4%
7. AOL Mail 2,907 1.4%
8. CNN 2,799 1.3%
9. Yahoo! Weather 2,740 1.3%
10. Yahoo! Search 2,531 1.2%
Source: Telephia Mobile Internet Report, June 2006

The release also says:

‘As xHTML-MP support becomes more widespread, mobile consumers will have greater access to richer presentation of content on their phones,’ added Brenner.”


Ahmadinejad's Blog: More "Death to the Infidels," Less "CT-Sen"

Looking for a blog that talks about what you can do to help wipe Israel off the map?  Need more information on Iran's "civilian nuclear energy program"?  Or maybe you are just looking for some nostalgic tales of the glory days of the Islamic Revolution.  Well look no further, because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched his own blog.

The first post clocked in at over 2000 words, but President Ahmadinejad said that "With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes."  I left a comment saying that in the next post he should just give us his quick take on the days top stories published in the government-controlled press.  At least it wouldn't be another politician complaining about how his message is filtered by the media.  And if President Ahmadinejad can't bring more brevity to www.ahmadinejad.ir I think it would be appropriate for the UN Security Council to impose some kind of sanctions.  After all, it is up to the civilized world to make sure a powerful weapon like a blog is not abused by a madman. 

Mobile Blogging

In another sign that world s of blogging and mobile media continue to merge, TypePad, one of the largest commercial blog hosts, just announced TypePad mobile. This is an application that runs on your mobile phone enabling an easier and quicker experience of posting blog entries, and uploading pictures directly from your mobile phone to your Typepad hosted blog.

Where a number of other blog solutions have supported web based mobile blog posting, this is one of the more advanced blogging native software applications that runs directly on your smartphone. Details and pictures over here...

-- Tim

Slate on You Tube, User Created Political Videos and the Lamont Campaign

Interesting article at Slate on the Lamont campaign and it's use and encouragement of user created videos on Youtube...

"Lamont's forces have proved one lesson of campaigns in the digital age: Content is king. Throughout the contest, the challenger's supporters produced and circulated a steady stream of videos that were witty, powerful, and in a way became the fulcrum of the campaign...

The Lamont forces have now shown the better way. (Lieberman's supporters did not seem to participate in any meaningful way in this new medium.) The Lamont videos were far more effective than tendentious blog posts, and they gave energetic supporters an outlet for their energies (a person can only pound so many yard signs). What's more, the videos offered a regular dose of entertainment to supporters who were interested but not obsessed."

It's a Purple Monkey, I Think it Speaks For Itself

The title to this post is actually the introduction to a purple monkey puppet that is a recurring guest on lonelygirl15's youtube.com hosted video blog.  I began watching her fascinating, enthralling and slightly voyeuristic collection of viral video after reading the New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan's blog post about this YouTube sensation.

Lonelygirl15 is actually a 16 year-old girl named Bree.  Bree speaks directly into a webcam, sharing quixotic but inspired observations about her life, conservative parents, interest in science, ever more complicated relationship with her friend/producer Daniel or anything else that is on her mind. 

In just two months, Bree and her purple monkey's seventeen videos have been viewed almost four million times.  Heffernan says that MTV should offer Bree and Daniel a spot on their broadband video channel MTV Overdrive.  I can't believe MTV hasn't already.  This technology is exploding and has applications for what we do - watch Julie Bergman at the NPI New Political Tools of 2006 event to learn more.  So, do progressives need to learn to master the 700 pound purple monkey that is viral video?  I think that "speaks for itself." 

Facebook your Senator!

Like most Millennials, I have a Facebook account. Up until now it has allowed me to keep up with friends I haven't seen in quite some time, as well as join groups relevant to my interests. However, Facebook recently took on an entirely new (though predictable, as our New Politics Institute has been saying) role. It has become a new political tool, used to define and communicate with a targeted audience. Check out this e-mail from Evan Bayh:

Dear College Democrat,

Thank you for allowing me to address the 2006 Facebook Evan BayhCollege Democrats of America National Convention. The College Democrats are the most fun and energetic wing of the Democratic Party, and I was glad to hear that more than 500 of you took time out of your summer to attend this year's convention. The work that all of you are doing gives me confidence that our Party will not only be victorious this November, but that our country's future is both bright and secure.

Congratulations to new CDA President Lauren Wolfe and CDA Vice-President Awais Khaleel. I am confident that they will serve CDA well. I was also especially proud to hear that Indiana's own Bess Evans was elected to the National Council Chair and that Indiana was runner-up to the Tennessee College Democrats for "State Federation of the Year." Congratulations to all of you and the rest of the newly elected officers of the College Democrats of America!

The All America PAC has posted video of my address at the CDA Convention on the AAPAC Blog and on YouTube.com. I hope that you will view these videos and share them with all of your friends. The AAPAC Blog also has video of DNC Chairman Howard Dean's speech online for your viewing pleasure, as well as guest blogs and interviews of many of your fellow College Democrats from the convention, including an exclusive interview with your new President and Vice-President!

Lastly, thank you for making a US Senator feel welcome on thefacebook.com. I hope that you will add me as your friend, and I hope you will post comments on my wall and send me facebook messages. I also hope that you take the time to join other students on the All America PAC facebook group.

From an old College Democrat at heart, keep up the good work!


Evan Bayh

P.S. Check out the following links:


New Yahoo homepage

Check out the new yahoo homepage when you have a moment. It's pretty video heavy for yahoo and the featured area of the page is all video - entertainment, life, sports news etc...I assume this is why they hired leadership out of CBS awhile back.

If you want to have a little fun - check out the show "#9." It's like watching E! online. The future of TV is here.



Met a very interesting guy this morning, Steven Starr, the founder and CEO of Revver.  What is Revver? Check it out.  A good place to start is the now famous Extreme Diet Coke and Memtos Experiment.  More on this exciting new idea soon.

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