Remix politics

The weblog and syndication model enables a “remix culture” — information is readily available, freely discoverable, and easily recombined.
Two of the politology suggestions for activist technology imply this model, and can be extended further along these lines.
Politology suggests:

A congress tracking system: 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.

Yes and… this suggestion doesn’t go quite far enough. It would be even more valuable for bills to have “permalinks”, and to create RSS feeds with bill updates.

For readers who aren’t steeped in weblog tech: blog entries each have “permalinks” — stable web addresses that enable the post to be referred to, commented on from another site, and discoverable later on with search engines. Weblogs typically provide RSS feeds that enable readers to subscribe to a blog. Smarter use of syndication/aggregation technology enables items to be discovered and recombined with finer-grained control

So, in addition to a central discussion, weblog remix tools would enable any number of decentralized discussions, that could in turn be aggregated and connected.
The politology post goes further in this direction with its suggestion for 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.

This isn’t hard at all, and could be done easily with today’s technology. Organizations providing action alerts, like Consumers Union and EFF (to mention a few I work with), could create an action alert feed. Then, individual activists could subscribe to the specific feeds, instead of being inundated with action email.
These models fit nicely with patterns of networked action — people learn and are influenced in groups that are geographically or topically close to them, and then band together to have a greater and more far-reaching impact.

3 thoughts on “Remix politics”

  1. Nice series of posts; I’ll come back to them with a follow-up. (By the way, there’s a stray href in this particular post.)

  2. While you’re at it, you’d want to have an RDF schema for publishing this information, and RDF crawlers so that disparate groups could spontaneously self-organize around an issue.

  3. Political Tools

    Adina Levin of SocialText comments (here, here) on my earlier post, Activism on Weblogs. I had mentioned the many political organizations sending out “action alerts” that compete for our attention. Levin notes rightly that this could be cobbled togethe…

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