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Episode 47 – download now subscribe now

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A perfect example of the type of stories we like: fusion of politics and tech:

Change.org 2.0: Harass Politicians and Fund Their Opponents

changelogo.pngWe covered the social activist community Change.org when they first launched back in February. The site is one of a few philanthropic startups tailoring the latest web features for non-profits and politics. It is a social networking site that serves as a resource for researching and organizing groups around social and political causes, called “Changes”. Changes are a place for members to post related images, videos, blog posts, and donate time or money to the relevant nonprofits.

Tonight, Change.org is launching an ambitious version 2.0 that expands beyond nonprofits and into political fundraising and lobbying. Founder Ben Rattray says politicians are expected to raise over $3 billion in this election cycle, with about half of that spent on fund raising (running total here). He says nonprofits receive donations upwards of $250 billion a year, with $50 billion of that money spent on chasing down a donors. Change.org wants to lower those fund raising costs, counteract large donor’s “special interest” money, and help give a voice to the average Joe who can’t afford a $2,500 a plate dinner.

To accomplish this, Change.org has effectively turned each “Change” group into a political action committee (PAC) by adding a database of politician profiles and some extra features to the “Change” groups. Now each group has the power to pool together a pot of money to donate to relevant charities or political candidates, as well as the power to lobby your representatives.

Instead of only nominating one charity per group, members can now vote on who which charities or politicians can best enact the change they want. Any member of the group will be able to submit a candidate for the donation, but only people who donate to the group’s “piggy bank” ($10 min by credit) will be able to vote the candidates up or down the list. Donations can be raised through the main site or an embeddable widget.

At the end of the month, all the money in the piggy bank will be divided between the top “n” donation candidate(s) (3 by default), minus a 1% management fee to sustain Change.org. If the money is raised for a political candidate, that candidate will get a check for the amount and their opponent will get slapped with a novelty check for the negative amount, just to let the competition know you mean business. Donations can also be conditional, such as donations to whoever wins the Democratic or Republican primary. Change.org will distribute the money when a winner is determined.

Michael Moore got SERVED!

Oh my Fred Thompson destroys Michael Moore…

You don’t pull on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t mess around with Fred. Apparently Michael Moore that fat bag of crap so adored by “all” the right sorts of leftist windbags (see Jimmy Carter) issued a challenge to Fred Thompson (undeclared candidate for President) for a debate this morning. Jimmy […]

Click here for the video

Everyone knows that the Onion is fake news, right?

RIAA Takes Cue From The Onion: Wants Radio Stations To Pay Up For Promoting Music
You know your business is in trouble when you feel the need to start taking cues from the Onion for ways to squeeze more money out of customers. Last year, it was Verizon, who was found to have copied The Onion’s satirical “charge-you-at-a-whim” plan. The latest, as submitted by a few folks, is that the RIAA is following the basic recommendation famously laid out by the Onion five years ago to go after radio stations for “giving away free music.” It’s not quite that bad, but pretty close. The LA Times notes that the RIAA and some musicians are asking Congress to change the law to force radio stations to pay up for promoting their music. Of course, radio stations already do have to pay some royalties, but they’re for composers and publishers. The actual musicians are exempt from royalties because Congress (correctly) recognized that they get the benefit of their music being promoted. However, the new charge is being led by an original member of the Supremes, Mary Wilson, with the support of the RIAA, complaining that she can’t just s
it at home and collect royalties and actually has
to (gasp!) work to get paid these days. Oh, the horror. If only everyone else could sit at home and get paid for work they did forty years ago. In the meantime, she ignores the fact that radio play is a big part of what helped make the Supremes famous allowing her to make any money from her music at all. It’s what drove people to buy the records. It’s what drove people to go to the concerts. This is just like the musicians in the UK whining about not extending copyright. They’re acting as if this is a welfare system, and the government needs to make sure they keep getting paid for work they did decades ago.

In requisite Google news:

Gmail Doubles Maximum Attachment Size to 20 MB
Gmail upgraded the maximum attachment size from 10 MB to 20 MB. Gmail was quite forgiving and you could send more than 10 MB in some cases, but now it’s possible to send at least 20 MB in one message.

Of course, few mail providers will accept a such a big message, so it’s safe to send messages bigger than 10 MB to other Gmail accounts, to Yahoo Mail Plus or to other premium accounts.

It would be nice if Gmail showed a progress bar for the upload and if uploading files to Gmail was faster and more reliable. But maybe we’re asking too much.

Everyone knows about Justin.TV, right?

Justin.TV Network Launches: More Shows to Come

justintvlogo.png24/7 reality online TV show Justin.tv has has turned into a bit of a mini-phenomenon since launching just two months ago. Their apartment was raided by the police, and they were later evicted by their landlord. They were on the Today Show. Justin has hung out with famous rappers. They’ve taken extravagant dares from their audience, and a crowd always surrounds Justin and his ubiquitous camera. Hundreds of adolescent viewers watched (sort of) as Justin had sex on the show, although users were left with a black screen and silence until the Justin.tv team started playing porn music. The site has been far more successful so far than the founders anticipated.

The site is so successful, in fact, that many people have said they want to start their own real-life television shows. Startup Ustream launched just in time to take advantage of this – they give users the tools to easily duplicate the Justin.tv experience.

Today, Justin.tv is launching its own network to allow users to create and publish their own shows.

The site has been redesigned to improve usability and in preparation for expansion into a network of live video streamers. Ustream.tv currently has a fully open lifecaster network, with profile pages and all, but Justin.tv is expanding more slowly.

Each Monday for the following weeks, Justin.tv will be opening their network to a new live video casters, serving as examples for the different ways fans will be able to use live video. Some may be like Justin Kan, with a now more affordable mobile hat came based on off the shelf hardware. Others will stream from their computers or static cams set in the public. They’ve got a list of the upcoming casters but are keeping the names secret for now.

Sounds like a pet Paris Hilton would get:

Legless Chihuahuas Prove Google Hot Trends Not So Hot

Google has launched a new addition to its growing lineup of…well everything, Google Hot Trends.

Google Trends takes the idea behind Google Zeitgeist to the next level. Instead of providing weekly details of top Google searches, Google Hot Trends provides similar data daily and goes as far as providing “hot” search results via state, city and country.

The data though isn’t top search results. According to Search Engine Land the data shows “hot trends” as the services name would the suggest. The hottest queries for the day are calculated by a “sophisticated algorithm” that takes in factors such as a sudden rise in a query phrase over previous periods.

Anything that is solely reliant on computer calculations is bound to have hiccups. In the case of Hot Trends for May 21 (US) those hiccups included “legless chihuahuas” at 25, but not forgetting that you may only be interested in one legless dog, “legless chihuahua” is at 36; the ultimate handbag accessory perhaps? Pretzel syndrome (33) might be cured by using a nose bidet (7) however “what did lawyer ellis rubin suggest prison inmates could donate in exchange for reduction in their sentences in 1992″ (26) may provide a hidden answer. Tasmania Tigers (45) may not get pigeon breast disease (43) but cicadas (23) are prone to issues.

It’s very early days for Hot Trends. It’s easy to have fun with it, however any new Google release, like wine, is sure to improve with age.

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