App releases Azerbaijani election results a day early

Dear governments of perhaps-slightly-less-democratic-than-it-appears regimes: the appearance of democracy is quite important. Just for, you know, appearances sake.

So, even though everyone might have an idea that your free and fair elections are as free as OJ Simpson and as fair as the average January day in the north of England, you have to at least pretend.

This is something that the oil-rich Azerbaijani government might have overlooked. Or, rather, whoever is in charge of its Central Election Commission election mobile app.

For, as The Washington Post reports, the app dutifully pumped out marvelously accurate election results, heralding a stunning … Read more

Assange's brilliant mullet-wearing, classic-miming video

If I were holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, I would be creating naked, wall-crawling videos, learning to grill marinated mongoose, and constructing a temple to the Bay City Rollers.

Julian Assange seems to be heading that way.

For he has just participated in what may be the most touchingly demented piece of video since Antoine Dodson told us to hide our kids and hide our wives.

Please let me tell you slowly how he appears in this video that is occasionally peppered with naughty words.

Well, the WikiLeaks founder dons a mullet wig. He also wears a … Read more

FCC cracks down on campaign robocalls to cell phones

The Federal Communications Commission has issued citations that accuse two companies of bombarding wireless customers with millions of illegal robocalls during last year's presidential election.

Working for both the Democratic and Republican parties, the two companies placed more than 1 million artificial voice messages each without consumers' prior authorization, the FCC said Friday. The companies, Dialing Services and Democratic Dialing, also failed to provide proper identification as required by federal law, the FCC said.

"Consumers have increasingly been sounding the alarm on robocalls, rightly complaining about unwanted, intrusive cell phone calls and text messages from strangers, or worse … Read more

Still live: Bob Dole's 1996 election site

Never lose hope.

That's what I always tell myself on the darkest of days, when I am even more misunderstood than usual.

I have a new symbol of this attitude. Because my colleague, Kent German, has just passed me a link to something I never thought I'd see: the Bob Dole/Jack Kemp campaign site for the 1996 presidential election.

This is like visiting the Smithsonian without leaving one's pillow. It's like reflecting on how times have moved apace, without seeming to move at all.

Here, for example, are promises that seem uncannily familiar. The tagline … Read more

SGI uses big data to detect Twitter's 'heartbeat'

Needless to say, there's a lot of emotions and expressed on Twitter every day, but it feels virtually impossible to navigate through all of them to extract a general consensus on most topics.

However, computing giant SGI thinks it may have found a way to pinpoint just that.

SGI has teamed up with researchers from the University of Illinois to analyze the entire Twitter feed for sentiments and volume in real-time using SGI's UV 2000 Big Brain data-mining computer.

By combining geotagged tweets with a Twitter-focused sentiment engine, SGI said researchers have been able create a sophisticated streaming … Read more

8 social-media changes since the 2008 elections

In social media, as in politics, four years is an eternity.

That's an example of a tweetable thought -- pithy and likely to be shared -- that you find sprinkled throughout social media these days.

The mild pressure to come up with re-tweetable posts is just one of the ways things have changed for me social-media-wise since the 2008 election, the first U.S. presidential election where social media was part of the equation.

Here are eight developments worth noting:

1. Facebook: 2008 was, indeed, a long time ago. At the end of that August, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his service had crossed 100 million users, … Read more

Charles Darwin gets thousands of votes in Georgia

In certain corners of America, there is a mood of relief and joy. In others, rampant despair.

This partly stems from the rather limited number of candidates at the voters' disposal.

Unless, that is, you choose your own. In that searing home of live-and-let-live that is Georgia, almost 4,000 people knew exactly who was the right man to lead its state into the future.… Read more

Friday Poll: Did stances on tech issues sway your vote?

Some major technology-related political hot potatoes have been tossed around this past year. The Stop Online Piracy Act may have gotten the most attention.

CNET broke down the presidential candidates' stances on a variety of tech issues before the election. For example, when it came to SOPA, Romney spoke out against it, while Obama danced a little more delicately around the issue.

The election will be shaping the direction of tech-related legislation for several years to come. It has already had an impact by weeding out three SOPA-sponsoring congressmen.

As an informed geek voter, how much did tech issues sway … Read more

The man with the election's winning numbers

Besides President Obama, the big winner on Election Day was big data.

Big data's patron saint -- FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver -- won the battle to predict the outcome of the contest between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Where breathless pundits brandishing equivocating polls shouted from the rooftops over the last few weeks that the race for the White House was a "toss-up," or "too close to call," Silver and other poll aggregators sat back and calmly told anyone who would listen that the math told another story: Obama's re-election was never … Read more

Romney victory site goes live by mistake

It's well known that before any big game, the T-shirts and hats that laud a victory are prepared by both sides.

Yet a curious thing happened after Barack Obama was re-elected on Tuesday night: Mitt Romney's victory Web site went live.

Perhaps it was someone's idea of humor -- or even anger. Yet it was immediately spotted by Political Wire, which cheerily took screenshots for public edification.

Those who enjoy schadenfreude will offer their snorts and smirks. For them, this is a Rom-Com.

Yet we seek deeper significances here.

What was odd about this election was that … Read more