Tag Archives: politics

When armies become media: Israel live-blogs and tweets an attack on Hamas — Tech News and Analysis

For decades — perhaps even centuries — journalists have been the primary witnesses to and chroniclers of war, piecing together news reports from eyewitnesses and military briefings. But what if the armies or military forces who were engaged in a conflict took on the role of publishers themselves, distributing their own live reports while the battle was being fought? That idea is no longer science fiction: it became reality when the Israeli Defense Forces started live-blogging and live-tweeting an attack on Hamas guerillas in the Gaza strip and uploading video of their rocket blasts to YouTube.

Social media, once thought of as a tool for bored nerds and marketing gurus, has taken on a whole new role it seems — one that could stand to change the face of modern warfare forever. As BuzzFeed notes in its round-up of Twitter posts from the Israeli army (a sentence I never would have imagined typing even a few years ago), the IDF actually warned Hamas guerillas not to show themselves on the Gaza strip or risk being killed in the attacks that began Wednesday morning, and the official Hamas account responded:

In the hours that followed, videos of rocket attacks on Hamas strongholds were uploaded to YouTube, and the IDF blog carried a minute-by-minute breakdown of what was happening — how many Hamas rockets it intercepted, a strike by the Israeli Navy, and so on. It looked very much like the New York Times live-blog The Lede, except that it was being published by a military force: the front of the website even looks like a traditional news blog or breaking news site, complete with the usual social-media buttons for sharing content on Twitter, Facebook and other networks.

via gigaom.com

Built to win: Deep inside Obama’s campaign tech | Ars Technica

The reelection of Barack Obama was won by people, not by software. But in a contest as close as last week’s election, software may have given the Obama for America organization’s people a tiny edge—making them by some measures more efficient, better connected, and more engaged than the competition.

That edge was provided by the work of a group of people unique in the history of presidential politics: Team Tech, a dedicated internal team of technology professionals who operated like an Internet startup, leveraging a combination of open source software, Web services, and cloud computing power.

A truly impressive story of systems engineering, from the macro to the micro level. I really commend the Obama tech team on their impressive re-imagining of how big data and scalability could change the way political parties interact with voters. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their system gets re-packaged and licensed out to future political orgs. Heck, I can think of a few corporations that could use this kind of model, too. Like mine.

Journalism and the truth: More complicated than it has ever been — Tech News and Analysis

Clay Shirky said that the whole notion of “objectivity” was something the media came up with in the 1950s and ’60s in order to appeal to a mass audience (and thereby appeal to advertisers), and that it serves no useful purpose any more.

One obvious outcome of what the Poynter panel was discussing is that defining the truth is no longer something that is done by professional journalists in isolation, but something that only emerges over time, through a process that involves both journalists and what Jay Rosen has called “the people formerly known as the audience.” Which is why I’ve argued that fact-checking of all kinds — both specific facts and larger questions of truth — is something that is best done in public. In a sense it has always been that way, it’s just easier to see now while it’s actually happening.

Arriving at the truth may be a lot more complicated than it used to be, because there are more moving parts and more sources than ever, but in the end it is probably closer to the real thing than what our traditional media gatekeepers have gotten used to providing in the past.

via gigaom.com

Party crasher: Obama brings down Reddit during Mitt Romney’s big week | The Verge

President Barack Obama’s surprise appearance on Reddit could not have been better timed. As Mitt Romney and the Republicans engaged in the vestigial tradition of counting delegates, hoping their speeches would filter down to the electorate through the media, President Obama reached millions of people directly by answering questions on arguably the biggest social media site that could still be considered underground. On his MacBook, of course.

The president was only logged on for half an hour, only answered ten questions, and yes, his answers were as rehearsed as in any public venue. The best AMAs are those where the subject literally means “ask me anything.” By contrast, Obama left upwards of 10,000 questions unanswered. Many people couldn’t even access Reddit during the event because the site was so overwhelmed with traffic.

The democratic process is alive and well… on Reddit!

Andy Kroll: How Empires Fall (Including the American One)

AK: How do you see the history of nonviolent action since Unconquerable World was published? What were you thinking about the Tunisian uprising, the Egyptian uprising, the Occupy movement, the general global protest movement of the present moment that arose remarkably nonviolently?

JS: I was astonished. Even now, I don’t feel that I understand what the causes were. I’m not even sure it makes sense to speak of the causes.  If you point to a cause — oppression, food prices rising, cronyism, corruption, torture — these things go on for decades and nothing happens. Nobody does anything. Then in a twinkling everything changes. Twenty-three days in Egypt and Mubarak is gone.

How and why a people suddenly develops a will to change the conditions under which it’s living is, to me, one of the deep mysteries of all politics. That’s why I don’t blame myself or anyone else for not expecting or predicting the Arab Spring. How that happens may, in the end, be undiscoverable. And I think the reason for that is connected to freedom.  Such changes in opinion and will are somewhere near the root of what we mean when we talk about the exercise of freedom. Almost by definition, freedom refers to something not visibly or obviously caused by anything else. Otherwise it would be compelled, not free.

And yet there is nothing obscure — in the sense of clouded or dark — about freedom. Its exercise is perhaps the most public of all things, as well as the most powerful, as recent history shows. It’s a daylight mystery.

This is a fascinating read. But he seems to completely miss the transformative power of communication mediums, and their democratizing effect, on political revolutions and nonviolence. Twitter played a massive part in the Arab Spring and Occupy movements!

Why the GOP’s Mission is to Un-elect Obama: Racism, Pure and Simple [Graph]

despite the Obama administration’s race neutral agenda over the last three years, four nationally representative surveys conducted in the last nine months—two by YouGov and two commissioned by the American National Election Study—suggest that racial resentment will be just as strong, if not a stronger, determinant of opposition to Obama in 2012.  Indeed, the figure below shows that the most racially resentful were roughly 70 percentage points less supportive of Obama’s reelection than racially sympathetic whites, even after controlling for the fact that Republicans and conservatives are more likely to score high on racial resentment in the first place. 

 

When has a party ever made it’s goal so personal, so vitriolic, as to completely ignore substantial issues and focus on cosmetic peripherals? I’ve said from the beginning, there is no other explanation for the way Obama is treated, than his race. An equally qualified, well-spoken, idealistic white guy (maybe even a white woman) wouldn’t get the kind of gutter talk he’s dealt with for years.

But I guess that’s the point — I firmly believe his position as somewhat of an outsider, in terms of status, privelage, beliefs, and yes, race – position him as the ideal man to turn this boat around, and get things changed for the better.

Gobama!

Mubarak Stepping Down Amidst Groundbreaking Digital Revolution

The events in Egypt served as a flash point for journalists on the ground, too. For perhaps one of the first times in history, history itself has been recorded instantaneously, as reporters took to Twitter to share 140-character updates and personal stories from the protests. The messages provided a stark reality to readers in the outside world, especially as the protests turned violent and police turned on journalists — the very people many of us outside the country were following.

But Al Jazeera had its “CNN Moment,” and although it couldn’t reach viewers in the U.S. by cable television, it found a way to viewers — on YouTube. The network live streamed Mubarak’s public address — in which many believed he would resign — Thursday via YouTube. But Al Jazeera’s comprehensive coverage put it on the radar for U.S. viewers and it created a campaign to bring its English-language network to U.S. televisions.

I’ll go out on a limb: Bringing Al Jazeera to US cable networks is the single most important act Americans can authorize to bring an end to terrorism. Yes, the flow of communication across the world, and the media and cultural perspectives attached (embedded, even) to it, are impossible to overestimate. Hatred, and violence stem from ignorance, and sharing information and life experience with people from other cultures is the single best way to do that.

Jon Stewart calls out John McCain on DADT – War Room

While entertainment media tends to gross me out with broad generalities, unsupportable facts, and unnecessary sensationalism, somehow John Stewart manages to always reign his hyperbole just in time when the facts support it.

John McCain is currently my #1 Bigot to Hate. Demonstratable Hypocrisy is just the tip of the iceberg.

Judge Bars ‘Fair Use’ Defense in Xbox Modding Trial

A California man charged with violating the DMCA by installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles won’t be allowed to claim “fair use” at his scheduled jury trial next week, a federal judge ruled Tuesday — a decision potentially devastating to the defense, and not particularly favorable to anyone who thinks they have the right to tinker with hardware that they’ve bought and paid for.

Crippen’s lawyer hoped to convince that jury that Crippen’s alleged modifications weren’t intended to enable piracy, but to allow Xbox owners to make lawful “fair use” of copyrighted material, or for other non-infringing purposes. The lawyer compared installing a mod chip to jail breaking an iPhone, an activity explicitly permitted under a recent DMCA exception approved by the U.S. Copyright Office.

But U.S. District Judge Philip shot down that argument Tuesday, noting that the DMCA makes it a crime to “circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access” to copyrighted material, even if there’s no proof that the circumvention was intended to facilitate piracy. The iPhone exemption is irrelevant, he wrote, because the Copyright Office did not extend that exemption to game consoles — just phones.

via wired.com (emphasis mine)

Here’s my million dollar idea: some clever hacker needs to figure out a way to hijack the Xbox’s wifi signal to allow for some over-the-web VoIP calling solution, at which point the “phone vs. gaming system” becomes significantly more complicated.

Given that he’s getting around the recent DMCA ruling allowing for iPhone jailbreaking by claiming the Xbox isn’t subject to that ruling, and referring to the original 1980′s law, my (admittedly shoddy) understanding of legal precedent would force the judge to recognize the newer ruling – given that the Xbox would have become effectively a phone – and could force his hand into applying the recent ruling’s logic to the Xbox.

In either case, Xbox is making a truly bad business decision; stifling your customers’ freedom isn’t the smartest way to go these days. I loved their recent decision to embrace all the Kinect hacking; why not here?

‘America By Heart,’ New Sarah Palin Book: What You Need To Know

Sarah Palin’s new book, “America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag” hits the shelves Tuesday, in an event that is sure to enliven an otherwise slow political week.

Perhaps the most defining feature of “America by Heart” is Palin’s capacity to boil down complicated political battles into pure political simplicity. The Cold War, for example, was won because “the differences between the United States and the Soviet Union were real — and consequential” and “one of those differences was a belief in God.” Opposition to an Islamic Cultural Center in downtown Manhattan, meanwhile, was hardly an exercise in religious intolerance. “[I]t’s what our Founders called ‘a decent respect for the opinions of mankind’ — or in this case their fellow Americans.” America’s problems, in the end, are partially due to the fact that “we may be creating a generation of entitled little whiners.”

I’m not sure if this can technically be called “literature” – it would probably be correctly filed under “propaganda,” given her (ghost writer’s) stubborn insistence on writing with extremely careful manipulation of facts and well-documented events. You might even find it in the Young Adult section.  Grab some popcorn and treat it like a cheap flick.