Obama's digital kingmaker advises Aussies to get "real"

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Obama's digital kingmaker advises Aussies to get "real"
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A hallmark of the campaign was the ability of Obama's supporters to short-circuit "filters" such as lobbyists and media, Self said, to go direct to the people. But he said it's unlikely that this will extend any time soon to asking voters directly to pay for government projects.

And even though Obama's strategy was to bypass power brokers, Self doesn't see this as the end of representative democracy.

"Industry groups need to adapt to the same sort of thing - they can be more responsive to their whole community," Self said. As an example, he said having discussions with groups interested in net neutrality -- ensuring that all data sent over the internet is treated the same - is "still part of the process".

He said it was "not exactly correct" to call Organising for America a permanent election campaign.

"Just because you are messaging supporters doesn't mean that you are campaigning," Self said.

"You want to encourage this interaction and transparency.

"(President) Obama has said that he's going to use this group to further his legislative agenda - that's a good thing to have 13 million Americans pushing forward. Any time you have more individuals in the political process the more it's a good thing for the country and the more people you get out there voting the better."

"Digital Watergate"?
Self wouldn't be drawn on whether the Democrats had experienced a "digital Watergate" - a break-in to the party's campaign database - but said "security is a big focus". 

"We employ all sorts of industry best practices to secure data (and) monitor access to it. here were always cases of people trying to hack every website out there - any public-facing site is a target these days."

And although the technology behind the successful campaign was built largely on free and open source software such as PHP and Apache, Self declined any credit for President Obama's post-election tilt towards such software.

"I wouldn't say we were writing policy for the President."

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