About Michelle Kraus

Michelle Kraus

Dr. Michelle Kraus writes on regulatory and political issues concerning the environment, the economy, technology, social networks and the political landscape. After pioneering the use of advanced search and data applications for the 2004 political campaigns, she is often referred to as a "Google Ninja" working behind the scenes to build communities, craft messaging and reach out to voters with new and innovative technologies.

Covering the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007, Dr. Michelle started the "quiet voices" series illuminating the monumental work of many of the participants across the globe who are quietly affecting change in health care and poverty alleviation. Invited to help with the grassroots outreach for the Dali Lama and the human rights community, she has covered the initiatives at humanitariandream.com.

She is also an experienced Internet executive who has built large companies, created profitable divisions within large companies and founded start-up ventures. As the CEO of one of the first open source companies, she helped to establish commercial applications and licensing standards. She has published two books that have received critical acclaim, and has written for many industry publications. She speaks nationally on politics, regulation and technology.


Latest Posts by Michelle Kraus

Alas, Twitter is Coming of Age in America

April 30, 2013 by  

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Twitter is finally coming of age in America. The citizen journalists of twitter far surpassed the real time coverage of cable television of the events during the Boston and Watertown siege.

Those like @michaelskolnick, @diggaduh, @wesleylowery, @sethmnookin, and many others too numerous to name, rocked. They were individually and collaboratively monitoring police scanners, reviewing multiple feeds, often standing in the streets, and tweeting live coverage, thereby, emerging the victors of the news cycle spoils. It was fascinating to watch, and an honor to participate.

This was guerrilla crisis management in the streets come to America. Remarkably, Fox News rose to the occasion getting their helicopter up in the sky over Watertown Thursday evening, while CNN limped along with a sleepy and often foggy Jake Tapper.

Given the sheer volume, it is perplexing that only the next morning did the authorities notice and move to shut down the twitter feed for security purposes during the continued manhunt.

To put this in context, we know that all facets of social media (predominately twitter) came to fruition during the Arab Spring. But that was over two years ago, and social media has matured, grown in power, penetration and numbers from platforms to smart devices.

Moreover, this act of terrorism in Boston and the surrounding area was a first on domestic soil, except for 9/11 over a decade ago. Times definitely have changed, and now twitter is giving cable and television news a real run for the money in because:

• Smart phones have grown in numbers, and feature capability
• Video has become a primary mode of communication
• Platforms and supporting networks have matured and are robust
• Young, tech savvy communities surge in terms of growth

The mere fact that the FBI, and other intelligence agencies, solicited cell phone pictures and video from the explosions earlier in the week at the Boston Marathon suggests a fundamental shift. Indeed, it could be contended that the world pivoted on its axis, not only recovering from the shock of these atrocities but because of social media, and all of it promise. Perhaps, the long awaited dawn has come to organizations like musician Peter Gabriel’s ten-year-old witness. Their sole purpose was to document bad things that happen around the world through pictures and video. The great irony is that it is coming to fruition because of events happening right here in this country, not the third world.

Yet, it remains to be seen to what degree each of these factors contributed to this frontal challenge to old media. The question still remains — if all of these factors are true, how do we make sense of the fire hose of information flooding in from the citizen journalist pipeline, aka twitter? Has the time come for that odd word often relegated to museums –”curation”? In fact, is curation the missing piece of the puzzle? And with this surge of user generated content, how do we play nice, and share with government agencies in times of national security?

American Liberals Are Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

April 13, 2013 by  

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Why are liberals falling down the rabbit hole? Oh woe is me, bemoan liberals far and wide across this country. The president is not doing this or that. He’s obviously abandoned them, and doesn’t love them anymore. In fact, he’s left them downtrodden and wailing into the night with no one to hug them. Oy Gevalt, what is this cosmic wrenching coming from this entitled class of beings — all of whom are living very well and luxuriating in material wealth. It’s bad enough that the gun-toting lunatics hate our president, but why now is this part of his base acting out yet again?

Somehow President Obama has become the “lost love” object for many. It’s quite fascinating because they act as if he has jilted them. They take it deeply personally when he speaks to other suitors, like the oil barons. How could he? Doesn’t he love us anymore? And on and on — often irrational to the point of obsession. Look, the guys, aka captains of Industry, like to chew the fat when smoking cigars, drinking good scotch and playing golf. So what does Obama do? He plays golf and brings along a famous golfer — all of which doesn’t translate into getting into bed to consummate a marriage. It’s only footsie.

Calm down folks. He’s just doing business. It’s the same thing that so many do every day in their day jobs — that earn them the large sums of money that allow them to be activists. The great irony is that if they were thinking with their heads and not their hearts, they might be applauding these strategic chess moves made by POTUS. Remember, the old adage — keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer and all that jazz. Consider footsie is just a strategic chess move, not a cigar.

You know, we all want everything right away. It’s human nature. Instant gratification is always better. But, as adults we’ve learned that we can’t have it all right now. It just doesn’t work like that. But rolling forward, we’ve got lots of folks running haywire having tantrums. We expect this from the bad folks, but not from members of the same team. Further, tantrums are bad enough at in the privacy of our homes. Often, we even have to put up with them from our partners. But seriously, this is not kosher, to air dirty laundry in public. Liberals are still carrying on like they’ve been romantically done wrong, and it’s just not rational. It’s downright messy, and Obama is the strong, silent type. It was always part of his charm and allure. So why now, while most Americans are just crawling out of the recession, getting their lives back on track, and often suffering in a code of silence?

Photo credit: Astonrep.com.

On Gender Equality Coming of Age, But Beyond Silicon Valley?

March 31, 2013 by  

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Doesn’t anyone get why CEO Marissa Mayer put the kibosh on telecommuting right now at Yahoo? It wasn’t discrimination folks. You see when you’re in the middle of a huge, nasty turnaround and trying to change the culture of a company — people need to show up at work.

Yeah, we all know that working virtually is the trend. In fact, teams often are dispersed around the globe. But in this case, it’s not rocket science or discrimination, so get a life folks. Nothing is forever. If she is right and Yahoo can be fixed, it will save all of the jobs, and we’re talking about 11,500 employees, and countless contractors and consultants. If she’s wrong, there may be no jobs to worry about. But now, this CEO is often referred to as the “Stalin of Silicon Valley” in the press.

So what is really going on here? Why the ensuing drama even when it’s discussed among friends and colleagues in Silicon Valley? What do you think? Could it be sexism sticking up its head against this girl geek in this male dominated world? Heaven forbid, right? Not here, no it just can’t be true.

Silicon Valley is the home of tech, the cradle of innovation. Yeah, but it’s probably so. Some like beloved Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook get somewhat of a pass, but not really. Of late, she’s been vacuum cleaned every which way. The difference is that she sought it out. When she unleashed her manifesto – Lean In — the call to action for young and old women from pillar to post, and went on television — everything became fair game.

But, maybe it’s not like that for the new CEO of Yahoo, the fair haired Marissa who has her head squarely down trying to do the job she was hired to do. Maybe she’ll go the press circuit after she’s scored a big win for Yahoo, but not now. Remember Yahoo is beleaguered, and quite an assignment for the girl geek, or any humanoid. You know, maybe Yahoo still has some juice with its very solid content, loads of good IP and customers, and it’s her job to figure it out. Aha, perhaps it’s not the decrepit dinosaur that everybody takes shots at, but still it isn’t perceived as the hipster place to work. Alas, once Stanford grad founder Jerry Yang sat in the ejector seat — Yahoo’s luster seemed to fade, regardless of how many Hollywood tycoons it brought into the fold. So maybe it is really time to let the girl geek have at it. Hollywood didn’t work. Sorry Terry and Ross. Autodesk wasn’t the right paradigm, Carol. Maybe it was quite brilliant to install the girl geek turned corporate dragon slayer. After all, she came of age at Google too, and is wickedly smart.

What could be so bad? Times certainly are changing — marriage equality is right around the corner regardless of what SCOTUS does, and innovation should not be gender based. Male coders shouldn’t be acting out publicly at conferences. Whistle blowers shouldn’t be chastised for calling them out as occurred last week. And maybe CEO Marissa in her own way, together with the brown-haired vixen Sheryl, individually and together are pushing Silicon Valley out of its comfort zone into gender equality. Go figure!

Photo credit: nytimes.

Guns & Children: Change & Hope May Rise From Sandy Hook’s Ashes

March 12, 2013 by  

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Killing children broke something fundamental in our culture. Babies and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Guns must never again be used to kill children.

Many have asked if we have waited too long for action, the answer is simply no. The slaughter of children sparked an unprecedented opening for change in this country.

It is that opening, that gaping wound, which is inspiring our President Obama and Vice President Biden.

This unlikely duo appear to be fueled by the fire of what is possible, and are driving a Mack truck through this opening — whether it is to push through the broadest gun safety legislation; or enact comprehensive immigration reform; or to raise the minimum wage; or end violence toward women; or to support gay marriage.

Watching our President Obama the evening of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it was clear that he would leap tall buildings to save the children and people of this country. For him and his pal Joe, it had become a Holy Crusade. Compromise was off the table on all fronts. Just witness the fervor with which this team is working to move their Cabinet nominations forward, even for beleaguered Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. 

Republican shenanigans are not being tolerated even on their home turf, the House of Representatives, or in the White House. These folks can rant and rave for the cameras (and they do), but their rhetoric is falling flat with no runway. No kidding, that the President’s approval ratings are soaring even in the shadow of the latest, manufactured financial machination of the sequester.

And it is this fundamental lack of empathy, insight and understanding that may be the down fall of the Republican Party as we know it today.

Thank goodness, the President is done turning himself into a human pretzel, and for this we must rejoice. You just can’t compromise with folks that hate you and all that you stand for. It’s a travesty that it took this horrific loss of lives in Sandy Hook to galvanize the American people – but it did.

Unbelievably, today one child still “dies every three hours from gun violence in the United States.” Everyone knows that gun safety legislation is not about the Second Amendment, but rather about sustaining a modern civilization. Just witness the President’s news conference Friday on the impasse over what is called sequestration. He’s not backing down now or ever.

Photo credit: visconti.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it and bestthinking.com.

Is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie the One Being Groomed for 2016?

April 2, 2012 by  

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It’s easy to see why Governor Christie may be on a test drive for 2016, and not just the warm up act for icy GOP 2012 presidential frontrunner, Mitt Romney. In fact, Christie may have that rare mixture of smarts and down home charm — all wrapped up in an ethnic blue collar kind of package. Bet the GOP intelligentsia is pondering if there could be something compelling about him in his role as the Pied Piper of the working class. Stretching a bit, consider whether Christie could be that desperately needed Republican version of Bill Clinton- yeah, yeah well keep stretching that analogy a little more please because the Party elders maybe trying to figure it out after the debacle of the 2012 primaries.

So it is no surprise that the good Governor came to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University delivering some of his plain-speak, and coming out with a newer calm and thoughtful demeanor. Not sure that all of his turnaround analogies worked comparing New Jersey to California — even to this woman born and bred there – but he’s making big, bold statements backed by mountains of data. Still not buying that entitlements are the root of the downfall of modern life as we know it – yet we all know that this is GOP speak for cutting Social Security, Medicare and their ilk.

Yet the big question remains unanswered as to whether this street smart persona will speak to the middle of America in the way bad boy former President Bill Clinton did.

And further, does Christie have enough religiosity to keep the burgeoning religious base happy? After all, he is merely a choir boy – aka code for a good Italian Catholic male. Because we all know that having a Catholic president was good enough for the Democrat – - but remember those folks believe in birth control. Moreover, is it okay that Christie is so smart (because he clearly is) to the anti-intellectual masses? Given that he is much more adroit at downplaying it than even former President George W. Bush but will it be enough? Alas, it’s a big bonus that he openly hates the unions, and has a particular hard-on for the teachers’ unions; appears to keep his zipper up; and is happily married.

Hmm, if the GOP intelligentsia keeps ruminating on Christie we may see more of this new, improved, thoughtful Chris Christie making the rounds before 2016.

American Culture & Misogyny Wars

March 18, 2012 by  

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Is our American culture so immersed in the sickness of misogyny that it can’t see the forest from the trees with the GOP? Men, or anyone else without female apparatus, do not get to make decisions about women’s bodies. Reproductive rights are an issue of health care plain and simple. We, women that are children of the sixties, seventies and eighties, thought we had fought this battle a long time ago, and are sort of content to keep kicking the glass ceiling. We realize that’s not good enough, but are wise enough to realize that it is what it is in the work force. But elected officials like Senator Mitch McConnell or Speaker John Boehner that want to repeal basic rights to birth control are a blight on our democracy. Women have had the right to vote for decades, and must not reelect folks that treat them like chattel for breeding, and little else.

Thank you very much, GOP gentlemen, for kicking open the door to the battle for women’s reproductive rights yet again. Alas, it appears to be front and center in the 2012 Presidential election with the Republican contenders seizing the moment for all their bad behavior. In fact earlier this week, Arianna characterized it as Birth Contracalypse on page one of The Huffington Post because of the mainstream media’s fixation on the so-called culture wars being espoused in the GOP rhetoric. Heaven help us as the world is beset with unrest and economic turmoil as this gang and our media replay the saga of the Catholic Bishops — aka men that wear dresses to work, not party. Certainly, it is fascinating to watch former Senator Rick Santorum push the frontrunner former moderate Governor Mitt Romney to the right as he auditions for Vice President. Talking Points Memo goes so far as to call it “Rick Santorum’s Trouble with Women” as their writers chew on the big issues of women in the work force in Michigan. Thank goodness the bloggers continue to push the hard questions about wage equality and even misogyny. Gosh almighty, it’s sad to watch as the mainstream media side steps the big stuff and fans the flames. Don’t really know how anyone can take these folks seriously. Rick Santorum’s notion of women is way beyond parochial. Newt’s womanizing is embarrassing and Mitt is a human pretzel giving new meaning to flip flopping.

President Obama may be the answer to our prayers. His very existence debunks all the GOP gyrations having been raised by a single mother and loving matriarch. In fact, for all purposes he actually seems to like women and trust them. Come on folks — he is married to Michelle, better known as the Warrior Princess, and relies on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to keep us straight with the world. So girls, gals or whatever, when you ponder about the 2012 race let there not be even a moment’s hesitation. Barack Obama, with all his faults, is our guy. He won’t cave to the GOP craziness about women, or poor people, or military action; and he certainly won’t throw women under the proverbial bus.

Republicans: War Is Not the Answer

November 18, 2011 by  

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After all we spent on the war in Iraq, in money and lost lives, haven’t the Republicans figured out – that war is not the answer? They simply cannot jumpstart the economy on the back of a new war. No, no, no. There is no money left, the military is broken and there is civil disobedience in the streets. People are downtrodden. That was then, it is different now.

Woe is me after Saturday evening’s Republican candidate debate. These clowns want to start a freaking war with Iran, and use torture, or what is called waterboarding. They want to place economic sanctions on Iran; sanctions that might even violate international law and isolate the United States.

These nudniks, collectively sans Huntsman, see NO reason not to publicly rattle the sabre at Iran; while agreeing with brain surgeon Perry to zero budget all aid monies to Israel – the United States’ chief ally in the region.

Since Romney is now cavorting with Newt, he thinks that economic sanctions and hawkish tactics are a good thing. Yes sir, Cain, Bachmann and Perry advocate the use of torture for interrogation. Oops, hasn’t anyone tried to talk sense to any of them, other than Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul? Say it isn’t so, that everyone on that stage was a self-purported expert on China, other than the former US Ambassador Jon Huntsman to that country. Perry is Perry. Romney is starry eyed. Herman still thinks it is okay to diddle white girls, but fry brown men at the border. The words of his wife remind us all how delusional folks are about sex, particularly their mates.

Oh woe is me; this is a motley crew standing on the world stage to the giggles of our friends and foes around the globe. Representative Michele Bachmann thinks the war in Iraq was a gift bestowed on President Obama, sort of like a gold watch or trophy. At least, that’s what she said on Meet the Press the next morning to David Gregory.

Further, this role model for women thinks the Iraqis should pay reparations – only she forgot they have no money, and they get their money from us. And if that is not bad enough, the press corps can’t seem to see the forest from the trees. Those traveling with the President to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit seemed to only want to talk trash to POTUS at the Sunday evening press conference blasted out on CNN. Few of their questions were about the pending trade negotiations or (remember) jobs — with the majority about Iran, torture, and the Republican debate. POTUS is out there doing his shtick to reboot the economy, and they can’t seem to focus. Next time maybe the White House should invite a handful of new media types from the blogosphere or Twitter.

 

It’s a Really Bad Time to Be Middle Class in America

February 18, 2011 by  

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It’s a really bad time to even be middle class in this country, and forget about being poor. The only way to be protected is to be very wealthy: then you are guaranteed that your house is safe, your medical care is covered, and your children will have a future. It’s that bad, and not one bit of this is subtle.

There is a class war underway in this country. The rich, or those that represent their interests, and corporations want control. Dave Johnson, blogger for the Campaign for America’s Future, nailed it when he wrote that: “This budget fight is about a stark choice: jobs and growth for We, the People, or going down the road of plutocracy — rule by the super-rich and big corporations — with little or nothing left over for the rest of us.”

This is the power grab of our generation playing out in Obama’s budget. It reflects true entitlement for the super wealthy. The government revitalization of the “too big to fail” banks was only the tipping point. Of course, the bankers deserved their bonuses. Remember that you heard it here. The battleground is not about the so-called entitlement programs espoused by the Democrats. Social Security, and other such programs are not the culprits; they are the scapegoat for the real agenda.

Obama is being forced to rip open the social fabric of this country to reduce the Bush generated debts. In the president’s proposed budget, most social programs will be ravaged left and right (no pun intended). Yes admittedly, this budget is a massive jobs creation machine. But watch out — don’t get sick folks or have an on-the-job accident because there will little if any safety net. Certainly, we all know about health care reform, yet if Speaker Boehner and his boys have their way — that too will be reduced to a hill of beans and severely compromised. The fight for survival of the middle class and the poor has been ratcheted up a notch. Strap in folks, this is class warfare.

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