The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Location
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birthday
December 02
Bio
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at www.stuartjeannebramhall.com

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 6:35PM

Is Team Obama Messing With Your Mind?

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Screen shot of Dashboard, Obama's data mining ap

Screen shot of Dashboard, Obama's data mining ap

Curious how the mainstream media is willing to talk about Team Obama’s cynical use of data mining to win tomorrow’s election – in New Zealand – but not in the US. Radio New Zealand commentator Katherine Ryan interviewed US political analyst Michael Cornfield on her “Nine to Noon”  program this morning. Cornfield founded the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet at George Washington University

According to the New Zealand Listener, which also published an article this week about “quantitative behavioral targeting,” both campaigns “are reluctant to talk about the behind-the-scenes digital manoeuvring that some voters might find sinister (you think?), such as data mining, “micro targeting” and its even more precise cousin, “nano-targeting.”

Sinister? What an understatement. In her interview Ryan refers to Obama’s slick campaign strategy – of exploiting potential voters’ on-line behavior – as a “dog whistle.” For people unacquainted with the term, it’s used to describe subliminal messaging a target responds to unknowingly – much as a dogs respond to high pitched whistles undetectable by the human ear.

Here’s a rather frightening excerpt from the Listener article, which makes the point that Obama’s technical outreach is “light years” ahead of Romney’s:

BIG DATA IS WATCHING YOU

Everything about how campaigns at a presidential level are getting out the vote has changed,” says Michael Cornfield, an expert on politics and the internet at George Washington University. Every time someone uses social media, they leave a digital trace, and all those traces are being collected and cross-checked against voter files. States keep rolls of who is registered and who shows up to vote, and some also include party affiliation, giving campaigns an extra piece of vital information. The scope for picking up information from these digital traces is huge. About 60% of American adults use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, according to a survey by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet & American Life Project. It also found that two-thirds of these users – or four out of every 10 American adults – have used social media for civic or political activities.

“All this demographic and behavioural information – the websites you’ve been to, the pages you’ve liked – is now fodder for the campaigns as they attempt to get out the vote. That’s a big change,” Cornfield says. For example, a mother in Wisconsin who orders eco-friendly nappies and drives a Toyota Prius might see a banner ad featuring Michelle Obama, and a Latina student in Nevada who visits TMZ, the celebrity gossip site, might see an ad in Spanish. The Obama campaign might not even bother with a middle-aged man in Virginia who has a gas-guzzling SUV and gets his news from Fox, the conservative channel. Tailored messaging does not end with the computer screen. It is all linked so volunteers who head out with clipboards know who lives in a house before they knock on the door and they are told what points to emphasise to appeal to that particular voter.

To hear the Katherine Ryan interview go to http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon and click on “The digital strategies used by the US presidential campaigns.” The easiest way to hear the interview is to download the MP3 file.

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I hate to even think about what Obama uses the date mining for after the election. Perhaps his kill list.
Those who keep insisting that the Democrats are completely different from the Republicans and will do different things are forgetting that the gunner is doing a much different job than the loader of the gun; but both contribute to the same end goal - somebody gets dead.

In this case it will be a nation that dies.......

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[r] Stuart, I saw a bit of this on the NewsHour, about Obama's bright young campaign hustlers using all this info and I was horrified, though the tone of the commentary was more curious rather than horrified but there you go, corporate media. They were bemusedly remarking, "Isn't this all very interesting?" rather than "Isn't this all friggin' INTRUSIVE AND INVASIVE?????

I remember visiting a site on google one day and when I went to my mailbox I had suddenly gotten an email from the very company whose website I had been on a minutes before. I hadn't even engaged with the website. Coincidence? Probably not.

So what an advantage, knowing the voters buttons to push. Remember the movie, THE NET? That movie was telling us the score back then.

As for Obama being a gamesman, all this proves all the more that he is. Rove is also a gamesman. And sadly the faux-heroic Obama is also a politician's politician, a gamesman.

Don't push to BE a statesman, push to con people to believe you are a statesman. Style over substance because ... because ... well, it takes less courage and it helps rig the game and winning is all for the Obamas and the Roves, et al., no matter what corporate team they are batting for.

Someone on the thread of my blog about the similarities between Obama and Romney thought it was a joke and denied the assertions about Obama are so not true. Agggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thanks for sharing this! best, libby
There's an interesting article at
http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/05/dont-worry-about-a-romney-appointed-court/

which follows Supreme Court decisions and more or less dispels the notion that a Romney appointment will spell disaster for that branch of government.
EVERY site you go to is recorded by up to a dozen tracking programs. You can get gadgets to tell you who they are. You can get gadgets that'll block most of them. BUT you CAN'T use the gadget that blocks Google; if you do, you'll find that a number of other functions won't work any more, including YouTube videos. They just disappear form all your previous blogs and you cannot insert new ones in any blog you post.

I recently read an article on a rightist site and immediately got flooded with Romney campaign literature eve though I'm in Canada and my e-mail address clearly ends in .ca

What a world........
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This type of thing has been escalating for decades at least. Two of the most famous ones are the Obedience to Authority Experiments and Stanford Prison Experiment; they've also been using all this polling for the purpose of finding how to manipulate us and anything else they can get away with. Most of the old stuff is no longer conspiracy since it has all been exposed.

Until the public learns to recognize this and focus on the basics and choose their own agenda then this won't be a democracy.
The only thing that offends me about this is the part about the lack of reporting. Using the available information for target marketing and messaging where it will do the most good is nothing new ('cause, let's face it, the candidates have fully embraced "branding" strategies and their campaigns are little more than propaganda-fueled, force-fed idolatry at this point). There's just a helluva lot more information available these days.

People do what people always have done. It is only the volume and speed of these actions that change over time with technology.
The only thing that offends me about this is the part about the lack of reporting. Using the available information for target marketing and messaging where it will do the most good is nothing new ('cause, let's face it, the candidates have fully embraced "branding" strategies and their campaigns are little more than propaganda-fueled, force-fed idolatry at this point). There's just a helluva lot more information available these days.

People do what people always have done. It is only the volume and speed of these actions that change over time with technology.
Target marketing happens everywhere, hardly the secretive underhanded move you make it out to be -- if I were running for office I'd target the Prius drivers over the Fox news watchers too.
Why is this so evil in your book?
We all know every move online is tracked by some kind of data tracker...it would be a stupid campaign manager who doesn't utilize technology and every other method possible to get the ads to the segments of population they might influence.
The old fashioned blanket spread of ubiquitous TV ads is better?
JustThinking, I'm not saying this practice is evil - I am merely describing the reaction here in New Zealand - that the practice is sinister and cynical and the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in it would be better spent on stimulating the economy and fighting climate change and child poverty.

Like Malcolm, what I mainly object to the failure of the mainstream media to report it.

Thanks, Jan, for the Counterpunch link. Great article. Liberals who go on about the court and Roe v Wade all seem to forget that Obama has scrapped Medicaid provisions enabling poor women access to abortion.

Alaska, of course they use data mining for the kill list. No question about it.

Interesting, Sky and Libby, about the people who email you. I only get spam about Viagara (my first name I think) and my long lost relative in Nigeria. I got some really great hate spam last year after filing the petition to indict Sarah Palin.
I do agree there are much better uses for all the information gathering, and I appreciate your reply. I wrote that comment then thought I sounded far too used to data mining, in general.
I won't even touch Facebook for its privacy issues...as if those issues aren't everywhere....