Bad political analysts received a gift today: a new tool to reinforce their worst instincts. Twitter has launched the “Twitter Political Index,” which will apparently provide a daily assessment of political sentiment on twitter. What exactly does that mean? Well, computers will analyze every single tweet and determine whether they're for or against Obama or Romney. Twitter sentiment is then boiled down into a number from 0-to-100, where a score near 100 means that tweets are resoundingly positive.
Beltway Media Cynicism? Yeah, You Built That
July 25, 2012
The 2012 campaign got off to a hopeful start in the never-ending battle between truth and cynicism. When the Romney campaign put up an ad last November that took a 2008 line of Barack Obama’s blatantly out of context—“If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” a line that was paraphrasing a John McCain adviser—the political press corps jumped all over it, and essentially shamed the Romney campaign into backing off that attack, no easy thing to do given that Romney advisers initially defended the ad with an “anything goes” breeziness.
The Global Reach of Conservative Conspiracy Theories
July 17, 2012
Much has been written about the role of the internet and social media in the Arab Spring last year, particularly in Egypt, where protestors organized and communicated on Facebook and Twitter. But while global connectivity can help protestors overthrow dictators and tell the world their story, it also gives everyone access to the less-inspiring corners of the web. That was on display this past week during Hillary Clinton’s visit to meet with leaders in Egypt. You may have read about the protests that greeted the Secretary of State in Alexandria.
Buffalo Hunting and Twitter's Revival of our Epigrammatic Impulses: Today's TNR Reader
June 29, 2012
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Rotten Apple: New York is the best city in the world ... unless you are a poor child. NYRB | 18 min (4,454 words) The American Dream? Well, not exactly. Still, there is nothing quite like a buffalo hunt. The American Scholar | 11 min (2,859 words) Twitter may seem like the scrolling suicide note of Western civilization. But it has charmingly revived our culture's epigrammatic impulses. n+1| 6 min (1,426 words)
June 22, 2012
ONE HAS LATELY heard much of the hashtag. That is, the Twitter symbol #, used to categorize a tweet. Charlie Sheen’s first tweet, for example, was famously: “Winning ..! Choose your Vice... #winning #chooseyourvice.” #Winning has gone on to live in irony across the Twitterverse, in mockery of the eternally less-than-winning Sheen. But even President Obama recently urged students to tweet their senators about raising the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans with the hashtag “#DontDoubleMyRate.” The new thing, however, is using the word “hashtag” in conversation.
Is Obama Really Up By 13 Percent?
June 20, 2012
This morning, Bloomberg News released a poll that sent Twitter into a frenzy, showing Obama up by 13 percentage points, 53-40. While these results might be promptly dispatched as an outlier, the Bloomberg poll was conducted by Ann Selzer & Co. of Iowa, an exceptionally well regarded pollster best known for conducting the famous Des Moines Register poll prior to the Iowa caucuses.
Fiona Apple's Eccentricities, Roald Dahl's Genius, and the Age of Twitter Diplomacy: Today's TNR Reader
June 19, 2012
Editor’s Note: We'll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! How strange is Fiona Apple? One magazine writer's quest to find out. NY Mag| 29 min (7,349 words) Sentenced to life in prison, Jon Yount became a gifted jailhouse lawyer and a crusader for prisoner rights.
Dear James Taranto
June 06, 2012
James Taranto, in his Wall Street Journal "Best of the Web" feature, is taunting me for not replying to his tweet quoting with approval an African American minister (one who supports Sen. Scott Brown's re-election) making what Taranto obviously believes to be a devastating critique of Brown's opponent, Elizabeth Warren. To wit: “Affirmative action—that issue becomes important because it points to who you are,” added the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of the TenPoint Coalition, who pointed to an assertion that she is 1/32 Cherokee.
On The Hilarity Of Keith Judd, Federal Inmate
May 09, 2012
You could practically hear the guffaws emanating from Twitter last night over the 41 percent vote share that Keith Judd, a federal inmate in Texas, managed to win in the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia. And sure, there’s humor to be had in an incarcerated man winning a bunch of counties against the incumbent president of the United States. But was this outcome necessarily as telling and disastrous for Obama as the twitterati snark was making it out to be? Not exactly. As is so often the case, the punditocracy was willfully ignoring regional context.
How the Obama Administration’s Narrative About Chen Guangcheng Unraveled, One Tweet at a Time
May 04, 2012
When Chen Guangcheng departed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday with apparent guarantees that he would lead a safe and productive life in his native land, it seemed that a major international crisis had been averted. In a startlingly short period of time, American and Chinese officials had hammered out an agreement that seemed to protect Chen, while preserving the bilateral relationship.