Tools for advanced net activism

Politology has a great post brainstorming about activist tools that should exist but don’t yet.

  • A congress tracking system: Thomas sucks. There should be a system where any bill can be readable as text, annotated by the public, with discussion underneath. It should be hooked up to a congressperson-tracking system so we can track how they have been contacted by the public, what they think of the bill, and how they are likely to vote. It should be easy to look up a congressperson’s complete vote history.
  • A public issue-tracking system: These have existed for software developers for a while – bugzilla; mantis – but they’re so obtuse that only geeks get into them. Plus, they tend to only be for actual bugfixing of existing issues. There needs to be a new system where a community can
    1. Identify an objective
    2. Start working to publicly create tasks supporting that objective
    3. Assign those tasks to willing community members
    4. Track progress and make reports
      It’s similar to bugtracking, but instead for public use and activism.
  • A better “volunteer tracking” system. A marketplace for matching up projects with specialized needs, with people that have specialized skills. Someone who needs a thirty-second music soundtrack for their political ad, or a large tab-delimited text file of precinct data put into a mysql database, should be able to define those needs somewhere for someone else to snap up. I can do either of those things, but no one would know it without that service.
  • An action aggregator: Right now we’re being bombarded with tasks to call about this or that, and it’s like they are competing with each other. It’s nonsense – a service could be created to let people subscribe to daily missives for all the causes they care about.

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