The US agency that spent 10 years & a billion dollars on one online form; Facebook on the GOP; and more.
Why can’t we be friends? President Obama just launched his own Facebook page, because, apparently, the Barack Obama Facebook page isn’t his, it just belongs to a politician with the same name and 45 million followers.
Tech and the campaign: Data from Facebook about interest in the GOP presidential candidates shows, more or less, what someone not looking at Facebook but paying attention to the conventional wisdom about the race might surmise, as Natalie Andrews, Dante Chinni and Brian McGill report for the Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s dominating position is weakening somewhat; Ben Carson is “a steady second”; Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio got a bump in interest after the last Republican debate; and Jeb Bush is struggling to catch on.
Paging 18F: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has spent more than ten years and over a billion dollars trying to switch over to a digital system for managing immigration applications and records, and so far has just one online form to show for it, Jerry Markon reports for the Washington Post.
New on Civicist: Jessica McKenzie reports on the growth of GovDelivery, which just passed the 100 million users mark, with an in-depth exclusive interview with CEO Scott Burns.
The future of work: A coalition of start-ups, VCs, labor advocates and policy wonks have published a joint letter calling for new approaches to supporting contract workers—the type of people working in the “on-demand” economy—that would enable them to get benefits like worker’s compensation, retirement savings or sick leave through more portable vehicles, Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times. The signers include Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures; Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy; Marina Gorbis and Natalie Foster of the Institute for the Future; Logan Green and John Zimmer, the co-founders of Lyft; Nick Hanauer of Second Avenue Partners; Sara Horowitz, the founder of the Freelancers Union; Michelle Miller, co-founder or Coworker.org; Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media; Carmen Rojas, CEO of The Workers Lab; Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of New America; and Andy Stern, the President Emeritus of the SEIU.
Today’s “whither democracy” must-read: “Pollsters rose to prominence by claiming that measuring public opinion is good for democracy. But what if it’s bad?” That’s the core question running through historian Jill Lepore’s trenchant report for the New Yorker on the rise of the polling industry. “Polls don’t take the pulse of democracy,” she writes, “they raise it.” You’ll want to read Lepore’s essay for nuggets like this one: “In 1977, the R.N.C. acquired a mainframe computer, while the D.N.C. got its own mainframe in the eighties….Democratic technological advances awaited the personal computer; the R.N.C. is to I.B.M. as the D.N.C. is to Apple.”
It’s rare to see good in-depth writing about the actual challenges of political organizing in the mainstream media, let alone two days in a row, so go read David Roberts essay in Vox on “What critics of the Keystone campaign misunderstand about climate activism.”