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Does Even Amazing Partisan Tech Deserve Applause? 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-sided-applause dept.
theodp writes "The press has been filled with wide-eyed articles about how Obama's tech team pulled out the stops in their race against the Republicans. But as exciting as some of the new techniques dreamed up may be, Tom Steinberg points out it's important to reflect on the difference between choosing to use tech skills to win a particular fight, versus trying to improve the workings of the democratic system, or helping people to self-organize and take some control of their own lives. 'I am still filled with an excitement about the prospects for non-partisan technologies that I can't muster for even the coolest uses of randomized control trial-driven political messaging,' writes Steinberg. 'The reason why all comes down to the fact that major partisan digital campaigns change the world, but they don't do it in the way that services like eBay, TripAdvisor and Match.com do. What all these sites have in common – helping people sell stuff they own, find a hotel, or a life partner – is that they represent a positive change in the lives of millions of people that is not directly opposed by a counter-shift.'"
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Does Even Amazing Partisan Tech Deserve Applause?

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  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @12:00PM (#42087195) Homepage

    I'm confused - What "exciting new techniques" did the candidates came up with?

    Massive data analysis and machine learning (I pressume some form of data clustering/unsupervised learning system) combined with the use of behavioral scientists. It's never been done before in this manner AAAAAND in this context. If that doesn't qualify as exciting new techniques, then ${DEITY:-FSM} help you.

    I know that in slashdot trying to sound l33t hax0r is the avant garde thing to do, but c'mon.

    In other news, hybrid and electric cars are not exciting new technologies because the gear was known to the Greeks around the 3rd century BC, and the wheel was invented around 5,000 BC.

  • Re:WTF is this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2012 @12:23PM (#42087343)

    Actually, I took it as "if they can use tech to divide us, why can't they use tech to unite us?"
     
    Some government websites are plainly painful to try to find information on. Most early alert systems for weather, disaster and Amber alerts are second rate stuff that would have never gotten out of Zuckerberg's dorm room. Why shouldn't we expect better from our elected officials? Where is the transparency we've heard so much about?
     
    You keep beating the drum of the one party system... I want something better. Not more of the same. Your partisan rant isn't going to change my mind on that.

  • Re:Got news for you (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mozumder (178398) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @12:29PM (#42087383)

    And as for libertarians, they happen to be the only poeple to have enough principle to be pissed about Bush's torture AND Obama's drone executions.

    Yet, all the stupid Libertarians go apeshit about Obamacare, which was designed to cut back the 45,000 deaths annually due to lack of health insurance.

    Sorry, but 45,000 American lives saved > Pakistani drone executions.

    We liberals consider the drones to be the least important thing ever, because we worry about the 45,000 American lives due to lack of health insurance, which for some reason the libertarians ignore, probably because they can't process death that isn't scary.

    We liberals only consider numbers, unlike the emotional libertarians that can't rationalize their beliefs.

  • by microbox (704317) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @12:41PM (#42087455)

    It's all about money

    The GOP and super-pacs spent about 3x as much per vote as the democrats. I am sure the analysis of how the money was spent would be fascinating. I would love to know why the GOP effort was so inefficient. My guess is that there is a crisis of leadership. After-all Reince Priebus is still the RNC chairman, and he clearly had no idea what was about to happen before the election.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @01:12PM (#42087647) Homepage Journal

    So you blindly voted for whatever crook was opposed by the people who actually work in your local government. You've proved Republicans don't need their disintegrating party: you only care about what you imagine are liberals.

  • by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:25PM (#42088169)

    At one point, the GOP and Karl Rove were ahead of the Democrats at using databases and software to rally support and gerrymander voting districts. But it appears that they have run out of steam.

    You do realize that the Republican majority in the House is due to gerrymandering? The machine still did them some good. It shouldn't be a surprise that Pennsylvania is one of the worst offenders WRT this, after all that's the same state where a new voter ID law was enacted which the republican majority leader famously described with the words "[enact a law that] will allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done!"

  • Re:Got news for you (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:41PM (#42088253) Homepage

    We already give away emergency care.

    It's the non-emergency care that you don't get for free. Neither should you expect it. The idea that we need to shred the Constituion in order to manage costs is just assinine. The latter is by no stretch of the imagination more important than the former.

    It's all a false dichotomy. Something like Obamacare doesn't need to be placed above the law. You can just implement it in a legal manner and tolerate the "scofflaws".

    People understandably have a problem with ignoring rules because they seem inconvenient.

    Indoctrinating people into thinking the government should take care of them is ultimately poor public policy that will just lead to abuse of a continually shrinking pool of resources. (See Greece and Spain)

  • by microbox (704317) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:31PM (#42088837)

    Communist regimes are left- rather than right-leaning.

    Communism demonstrated itself to be highly authoritarian ironically under the ostensible goal of anarchy. In the western world, however, authoritarian personalities are almost universally associated with reactionary conservative politices.

    Liberalism is starkly different to communism in that liberalism is strongly against government enterprise (which is different to public services), and authoritarianism. Two core beliefs of liberalisms -- going back to the 19thC, is to champion the rights of the individual (against the tyranny of the masses), and also advocated for lassiez-faire economic reforms.

    Back then, Liberals advocated for universal health-care, a social safety net, and public education for all. None of these things are inconsistent with each other. Spending money on schools/emergency-services/heath-care/social-security is just a matter of priorities -- not a "statist" stance as the false narrative in the tea party goes.

    This just demonstrates the inadequacies of left/right term.

  • Re:Got news for you (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @10:41PM (#42090593)

    That's only true when you presume that there is a for-profit insurance company involved in the process. My (largish) employer is self insured (with a big company paid a fixed cost to administer the plan), so our VP of HR cuts a check every week to pay to sum total of all employees' health care costs for that week.

    Thus, the company is actively trying to encourage and incentivize us to better take care of routine maintenance. Engineers tend to ignore health issues, so the company put a full-time clinic on-site and encourage us to visit if we sneeze once. They want us to not get avoidable diseases so they ban smoking on their property and create lots of free physical activity programs where we can get exercise.

    My insurance company, also known as my employer, wants my routine maintenance covered because it saves them money, pushing the overall costs down (not up).

    While it's not the case in the U.S. right now, were you to replace "my employer" with "my government", the same arguments could apply.

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