It’s Day 3 of Netroots Nation (#nn13), an annual conference for progressive leaders and media professionals.  This is a liveblog from Day 3.#nn131:33pm. The conversation with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, moderated by Zerlina Maxwell just took place in the large exhibit hall. It was an interesting talk, touching on progressive issues and causes. The moment that was particularly interesting, was the reaction Pelosi received in explaining her position on Edward Snowden. She received boos in the audience when she said he broke the law, and there were a few active audience members who stood up and yelled questions toward the stage. On the most part, Pelosi entertained and tried to address the questions.

1:38pm. The panelists for “How We Used the Internet to Help with the Presidential Election features key leader in President Obama’s re-election campaign—taking their message to the social media stage. Panelists include: Matthew McGregor, Zerlina Maxwell, Laura Olin, Jason Sackin, and moderated by Erica Sackin,
Netroots Nation #nn13
Erick provides an overview about how different the social media scene was in 2012 v. in 2008. Namely:

Internet usage shift from 2008-2012
200K to 40M tumblr
3M to 500M twitter
100M to 1B facebook

1:44pm. Jason Satler (@lolgop) shared key points. And some of his notable work : )  i.e.:

LOLGOP @LOLGOPFun Fact: Joe Biden is the only American Vice President in the eleven years who hasn’t shot a friend in a face.

1:47pm. Zerlina takes the stage. (Note: she just moderated the lunch session with Nancy Pelosi!) Shares two of her popular posts.  One was on Paul Ryan’s comment that rape is a form of conception. And one on Donald Trump. Her popular tweets covered race and the war on women.

1:52pm. Laura Olin takes the stage and speaks about her role in overseeing the official Obama twitter feed and tumblr accounts. She shared a few the popular tweets, including:

Laura’s tip: give people something they can share. She talked about the effectiveness of photo tweets.

1:59pm. Leaving this session to check out another.

2:01pm. Checking out “Big Ears Meets Big Data: How to Unleash Member Energy to Analytics”

2:03pm. Sara Haghdoosti talks about how she worked to get people working on systematic campaigns. She created an organizing model that tried to combine hundreds of years of best practice. But within the first week of using, realized that the organizing model was flawed. I.e. hypothesis: if you took a moment to sign an online petition, you were interested in being move involved. Realized it was wrong to expect a commitment that scaled up.

2:05pm. The slides says: Focus on weak ties. In a retreat to cover issues, she tried an experiment of people working on similar issues together to form a campaign v. people working on different issues to work on a campaign—she noticed that the latter was more effective because the members could provide more constructive, actionable feedback rather than getting caught up in the nuances of the issues.

2:06pm. The slide says: You need far higher conversion rates for online team actions.

2:09pm. Milan de Vries, of,  explains distributed organizing. The slide says: thousands of petitions, on lots of topics, with different approaches…From his (the organizer) perspective it means managing and following thousands of petitions

2:11pm. Answers 2 questions: how do they determine the compelling campaigns and how they find people to engage in the campaigns. Look at petitions that are 1) progressive; and 2) that are strong. So can do a quick filter to determine which fit into this general bucket. First pass is by humans and also filtered by number of signatures, and look at successful shares.

2:14pm. Milan speaks on how it “tests” petitions, i.e. sending to cross-sections of its membership.

2:20pm.  In summary MoveOn is looking for petitions that are progressive and that are being shared & signed.

2:20pm. On to audience questions. “How do those of us who aren’t sitting on million-member lists” utilize the tips you just mentioned? Milan mentions that even with a smaller list (i.e. 5K) you can actually test and do a lot. Don’t be discouraged about the size of your list when assessing what you can learn from your group & how you can engage with them.

2:26pm. Sara Haghdoosti also answered and noted that for a crowdfunding campaign she was launching, she sent an email on her birthday and raised $6K. She did informal A/B testing on subject line and messaging. She noted that personalizing the message and sending to her close contacts helped achieve success.

2:34pm. A software engineer in the audience asks what statistical tools the panelists use. Amelia Showalter mentions using A/B testing with less formality than in an academic setting. For other campaigns she uses correlations and more sophisticated modeling. Milan underscores that the purpose of the stats in the case of online organizing and mobilizing is to guide decisions, rather than a more academic goal .

2:38. Question from the audience: what analysis do these websites do on people who open the email but don’t take action (i.e. sign a petition). Milan takes this one and notes that these organizations look at behavior of people over time, and so his org (MoveOn) has a vested interest in understanding why people behave in one way v. another.

2:48pm. Session ends. Will take up blogging again for the 3pm panels. There are a few that look interesting, so fair warning, there may be more panel-hopping ahead.

“Beyond Aaron’s Law” Panel at #nn13

3:05pm. Starting out in the panel “Beyond Aaron’s Law: Reining in Prosecutorial Overreach”. Elliot Peters, Aaron Swart’z attorney at the time of his death, introduces himself.

For three decades Elliot Peters has litigated, tried and advised clients in some of the nation’s most high-profile, high-stakes complex commercial and white collar criminal cases. Mr. Peters has tried more than 50 cases on behalf of CEOs, leading law firms, and major corporations. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has also been named Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer and The Recorder, the Litigator of the Week by The American Lawyer, and one of the Top 100 Attorneys in California by the Daily Journal. [Source: KVN]

3:07pm. Elliot speaks about his relationship with client Aaron, and Aaron’s goal of open access. He talks about Aaron’s actions to open access to JSTOR documents at MIT.

3:10pm. Aaron was arrested for computer crime. Prosecutors tried to figure out what crimes Aaron could be prosecuted on. Note, CFAA requires $5K in damages, here it was challenging to determine damages (if any). Elliot took on the case because he thought the defense had a strong case, but he worried about Aaron. On January 11th, Elliot spent the day working on the case and had succeeded on getting access to emails between local Boston official and the Federal govt. He packed his suitcase went home from work and rec’d the news of Aaron’s suicide. Elliot calls it one of the lowest points of his legal career. “Aaron’s loss is a great loss for everybody because he was truly, truly a remarkable person.” — Elliot Peters

3:14pm Moderator Marcy Wheeler introduces Jonathan Simon.

Jonathan Simon is the Associate Dean of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at Boalt Hall School of Law at University of California, Berkeleyauthor of Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear and Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990co-editorof Punishment & Society, associate editor of Law & Society Review, and a professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, and Legal Studies. [Wikipedia]

Who are prosecutors in America? Are usually politicians. Simon notes that historically that fact was held in check through 1) local politics, i.e. pushing back using local political machines; 2) on the federal level, the body of law was much smaller. That changed dramatically during ‘the war on crime’ (the subject of much of Simon’s work).

3:18pm. Simon turns from historical overview to looking at the case of Aaron Swartz. He looks at the problematic issues of whether he was “breaking into” a “dwelling” considering the facts. He considers the idea that the prosecutors thought that Aaron may end up ‘snitching’. Simon calls for an end to the ‘war on crime’—he questions the need for an emergency government.

3:26pm. Simon calls for a need for government to look at whether prosecutorial charges are fair and examine new charges carefully.

3:27. Next up on the panel is Shane Kadidal, his works focuses on the Material Support Statute, passed in 2006. Works like economic embargoes against countries against whom the US is at war.

Shayana Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In his eight years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases in the wake of 9/11, including the Center’s challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court, and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps. He is also counsel in CCR’s legal challenges to the “material support” statute (decided by the Supreme Court last term), to the low rates of black firefighter hiring in New York City, and to the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program. [Source: CCR]

Shane is talking pretty quickly—so instead of mis-paraphrasing his explanation of Material Support Statute, here is information about the bill directly from his organization’s website:

The “material support” statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2339B, makes it a crime (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) to provide “material support” to any foreign organization the Secretary of State has designated as terrorist.  “Material support” is defined in the statute to include almost any kind of support for blacklisted groups, including humanitarian aid, training, expert advice, “services” in almost any form, and political advocacy. The Patriot Act broadened these provisions in the wake of 9/11.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) contends that these material support provisions violate the First Amendment as they criminalize activities like distribution of literature, engaging in political advocacy, participating in peace conferences, training in human rights advocacy, and donating cash and humanitarian assistance, even when this type of support is intended only to promote lawful and non-violent activities. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court recently upheld the government’s broad reading of the statute to criminalize speech in the form of coordinated political advocacy. [Source: CCR]

3:34pm. This is an interesting panel, I especially appreciate the legal/policy review of issues at hand. Hopping over to check out another session.

3:41pm.  Ducked into a session: “Seeing is Believing: Visual Storytelling Best Practices”. The speaker Liz Banse is showing photo slides and providing comments on effectiveness in relaying a message.

Liz Banse, Resource Media communications specialist w/ a love for the visual. @RMedia. If I’m not here, find me in the mountains w/ my family. @lizbanse

3:45pm. Liz notes that a photo featuring a closeup of an individual who is looking directly at the camera is among the most compelling. She shows this National Geographic cover, the most popular of all NG covers.

3:47pm. Liz notes that what often moves audiences is awe and inspiring images rather than jarring or disturbing images. “Humans have an optimism bias”-Liz Banse
3:49pm. If you are trying to create a campaign for fundraising, support try introducing a single person and tell their story through a compelling image. People characteristically give more money when they are introduced to an individual versus through a mass/group.
3:51pm. As an exception to the above, images of protests and rallies are effective.
3:53pm. Final recommendation, after you find the right picture, make sure it is ‘packaged’ or staged well.  Liz mentions the idea of a “confirmation bias” re: websites. I.e. once our mind has made a decision, it is challenging to change your mind.
3:54pm. The laptop is on its last 2% of power with no power source within reach. Signing off for now, thanks for reading.
[This posted has been updated for minor edits and to correct the day of the liveblogging]


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