Blog Category: Technology News
Voting absentee is never easy, but for military personnel on long-term overseas deployments it can be particularly difficult — especially after redistricting. But for those military men and women wondering which congressional district they now fall into, there’s help. The Defense Department has contracted Aristotle International, a political data firm, to help assist service members vote absentee.
Check out the full piece in Campaigns & Elections magazine.
New redistricting lines from U.S. Census play major factor
Washington, DC (February 17, 2012) —Aristotle International, a leading nonpartisan political technology and data provider, announced today that it will be supplying reapportionment data to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), an organization within the Department of Defense. FVAP was formed to assist uniformed service members, their families and overseas civilians to vote absentee.
Advocacy Groups Embrace “Extreme Data Mining” to
Prove Clout on Capitol Hill
Emails to Legislators from SuperVoters and FatCats Grab Attention
Aristotle previews ‘game-changing technology’ for separating grass tops from Astroturf
Miami, FL (February 3, 2012) — At the National Grassroots Conference in Miami this week, non-partisan political technology powerhouse Aristotle International unveiled what many representatives of the nation’s most effective advocacy groups are heralding as a powerful new weapon for influencing legislative battles on Capitol Hill.
The software, called VerifiedVoter™, stamps an electronic watermark on emails being sent to Hill offices designating that the author of the email is a real, live registered voter rather than a computer-generated form letter. The system also flags emails coming from a ‘SuperVoter’ (one who votes in primaries) and a ‘Fat Cat’ (one who has a history of donating to political causes). The new data-mining tool relies on advanced algorithms that mine the Aristotle’s highly accurate lists of 187 million registered voters and 4.4 million political contributors.
Campaigns are often frustrated in applying up to date technology for fundraising and voter contact by Federal campaign rules written when John Travolta was King of Disco and the guys playing 70s rock weren’t pushing sixty. At the same time the Federal Election Commission (FEC) often struggles to adapt an outdated statute in an environment of limited information about quickly developing technologies and business practices used by campaigns and commercial providers.
Recently, for instance, the FEC nearly deadlocked and came to what one source calls a “wobbly resolution” to a request by Google to apply campaign disclaimer rules to Google text ads. As of mid-November the FEC was still mulling an early September request to address whether campaigns could use text messages for fundraising: a technology successfully used two years ago for Haiti relief. This is not just a matter of frustrating campaign managers or tech vendors.
Have you wondered how an opt-in or opt-out contract works on the Internet when the person consenting is not an adult?
Most contract law requires a person to be of legal age, typically 18, to enter into a legally enforceable agreement. Minors can enter into a contract but it is voidable until they are 18 years of age.
One should consider parental consent a good first step for a child to give away their rights, in this case their internet identity to advertisers to mine, market and advertise.
This will be brought before a judge in a class action lawsuit filed in California against Facebook for the use of the “like” button.
California law requires parental consent in order to obtain a minor’s consent for using their name or likeness for an advertisement.
Facebook doesn’t do that according to the lawsuit, which you can read more about here.
Lawsuits like this one could result in anyone under 18 having to get their parents’ permission to sign up for Facebook for which a system like Integrity is very effective in ensuring that the parent is indeed in control of their child’s digital identity.
Keeping Your Website Content Fresh
We all know that the best way to keep traffic coming back to a website is to kee the content fresh and interesting. But the challenge is, how to do that with limited time and resources?
One of our favorite ways to accomplish this goal is by incorporating widgets into our clients’ website content. There are a ton of politically minded widgets available, and many of them don’t cost anything.
A few examples:
WidgetBox has a free app that will let you create your own widget from any blog, RSS feed, flickr account, and a host of other sources. I created one for our blog (posted below). //
OpenCongress has a Bill Tracker widget that will post the most recent status of any bill in Congress.
oc_host_url = “http://www.opencongress.org/”;
oc_bill_id = “111-h2454″;
oc_frame_height = “219″;
oc_bgcolor = “ffffff”;
oc_textcolor = “000000″;
oc_bordercolor = “cccccc”;
Need some additional ideas about how to keep your web content fresh? Give us a call!
As with social networking or blogging, the Internet search industry has gone through significant changes since the initial Internet boom of the 90′s. This can be seen in AOL shifting to providing content or Google looking to change how we interact with the Internet. Another major change occurred this week with the news of an impending partnership between Yahoo! and Microsoft, further homogenizing the options users have in their search for information over the Internet.
While there may still be other options available to users (Wolfram Alpha for example) this partnership sees Yahoo! abandoning its own search technology in favor of Microsoft’s “Google killer” Bing. Although users will still be able to access Yahoo! Mail, Flickr, etc…it begs the question whether Yahoo!’s content will be able to keep individuals who were using Yahoo! as an alternative to Google/Microsoft search giants; or if users will even notice the difference?
Many predict that they won’t; and that in the end is a good move for Yahoo! as they have been steadily losing market share when it comes to their search product anyway. Although it is sad to see an original Internet pioneer lose its teeth to a larger company, it will be interesting to see how Google will respond to Microsoft’s challenge that there can be more ways than one to search the ‘net.
More and more, it’s becoming clear that Twitter is a viable tool for grassroots organizing and issue advocacy – Organizing for America (the DNC) has jumped on board this week with a new tool that encourages people to contact their Senators through Twitter to voice their support for health insurance reform.
It’s simple. Enter your zip code, and a tweet is automatically generated and directed to your senator – including hashtags that allow the tweets to be cataloged and tracked. The public nature of Twitter – along with the ability for anyone on the service to track and engage with others using the provided hastags – could make this more effective than more private forms of constituent communication (calls, letters, emails). It’s a way to make your voice heard – not only by your Senator’s office, but by anyone and everyone who can see your Twitter feed.
How effective will this be? Too early to tell. Stay tuned.
- Jenny Towns
Once in a while, the Aristotle candy blogger takes a break away from sweets and dips her toe into technology news. For instance, the time Francoise shared her insights into the Amazon Kindle and Grassroots.
Neither Francoise nor I own a Kindle for the same reason: cost. But there may be hope as eWeek.com reports:
Amazon dropped the price of its Kindle 2 e-reader to $299 from $359 with little fanfare, though it suggests Amazon hopes a $60 price cut will make the device more attractive in an increasingly competitive market.
Is $60 of savings enough?
Money aside, the Kindle urges you to give up more than a chunk of your paycheck (for the relief of never having to lug a hardback around), it urges you stop reading books.
Stop reading, in the traditional sense at least. I like loosing myself as I hurriedly turn the pages slugging into DC each morning. I like walking to work from the metro, nose in a book, scarcely avoiding oncoming traffic and bikers. Would it be the same to scroll through on a screen? I don’t think so… I contend that I stare at a screen far too much already – with the computer eight hours at work and the TV for a few hours when I get home.
It also brings up a larger question – what will you pay for convenience? Amazon is hoping the answer is $299, and maybe it’s working. We’ve seen the proof down the street with Trovers Bookstore closing after 51 years — people are buying fewer books. Is Kindle that start of a revolution or just the next toy for an increasingly technology-obsessed nation?
Social Media, Web 2.0, SEO rating … it can make you dizzy sometimes, just trying to keep up. One of the beauties of this new space is all the opportunities to share information. After all, that’s the point right – web 2.0 is the fluid give and take, the interactivity of communication, information and web geeks across traditional boundaries.
I was in my element today – I participated in 352 Media Group’s (free) webinar titled “Making Your Web Site Appeal To Both Customers & Search Engines.” It was great – very informative and the perfect level of “tech talk” and English.
Here’s your crash course. SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Your SEO rating determines how high (or low) you appear in search results. Why is this important? Well, when’s the last time you scrolled through to Google’s 15th results page when you were searching for a new vendor, a nearby restaurant or an interesting blog? Chances are you choose from the results on the first page, maybe even limiting your selection to the first few choices. So how do you get on the first page? How do you get above the fold? Increase your SEO!
Few highlights that help your SEO ratings from the webinar (click here to view the webinar when it’s posted):
- Reserve some real estate on your home page for flash to draw in the user and use alt tags, with your full company name (if possible), to increase your search engine optimization because search engines can’t “crawl” or read images without the alt tags.
- Use a Recent News Feed widget to ensure consistent updated content on your home page.
- Include “live text” with the most popular keywords for your industry, products or services repeated as much as possible while still maintaining realistic verbiage. Live text is any text you can scroll over and select (Note: Images that include words are not considered live text and can not be read by search engines).
Check the webinar for information on establishing keywords through Google’s free adword search, comments on domain name options/importance, tips for embedding searchable YouTube videos and the strategies for link backs. Or read even more tips, from Google!
As the organizers reminded us, page ranking takes a long time to grow, so be patient!