Citizen Connect, First Sketch

22 Jan

What if we voted every day? Hmm.

About mid-way through 2008, I revisited a question that I’ve had many times before. “Why is it so hard to discuss politics? Isn’t there something I can actually do about anything, short of constantly marching, chanting, or shouting about stuff? I have a job and a social life.”

It’s an interesting issue – I am sure many have the same question. It’s difficult to balance, much like my well-known distaste for watching sports on television or talking about sports…in juxtaposition with my great love of actually playing sports.

A contributing factor to this feeling, I think, was the amount of “media fatigue” I experience when I turn the TV news on, look at mainstream media news websites, and the like. In an effort to keep eyeballs in large numbers on the media (and keep the advertising dollars in the pipe), editorial choices seem to me, strictly as an observer, to focus on BIG BIG events, topics, widespread, well-tread ideas, and incendiary approaches to covering “the news”…tried and true approaches to engaging audiences, I suppose. Maybe local advertising will save us from this pattern? I’ve only just scratched the surface on this subject, personally – I am sure there are more comprehensive descriptions and discussions on this space – but, I am really enjoying this journey.

So, in my quest to personally conceptualize a better experience (and I won’t go into this very heavily…it’s not well thought-out, yet) I started thinking about what’s most important to me from a personal perspective…where did the proverbial rubber hit the street that I lived on? This approach of studying a hierarchy of rights or understanding my duty as a constituent made me feel largely ineffectual. I’m not attending the school board, city council, and other meetings where issues were being discussed…where people were _doing_ things. I needed more time in the day.

Then – the scenario became a little clearer to me. If I currently had time to work with the cub scouts, make music, manage music, raise a family, earn a living, and continue growing a meaningful relationship with my wife, it had only become easier via the social tools I was using; Google Groups for the UX panel I was putting together, Google Apps for band-related business (CRM, Calendar, etc.), email/SMS/Facebook/Twitter for staying in touch with my wife during the day, etc.

So – what if being a good citizen was more like Wii fit? What if it was more like using I’d have a dashboard where I could decide, be informed, contribute ideas, volunteer, provide services, respond to and inform my elected representatives – all like i was just payin’ the bills online (as my wife informs me that we do.) I think that I’d spend alot more time and effort in the local, city, and county-level parts of the application…personally – but, I’d work hard to get informed on topics that were reaching across our state, nation, and the world.

So, what if we voted every day? What if we could harness the power of social computing (that we currently use to do whatever) to organize ourselves and actually _do_ something. Now, I am certain that many of you are very active in your communities, politically savvy, and making the world a better place, every day. Maybe some of you are already using applications like these.

However, I don’t see a lot of this going on, quite yet…and I want to be involved. I want representatives to know what I think and feel, in context to efforts that they’re expending. I have a feeling that those officials would also appreciate tools that would allow them to provide some transparency to their efforts, tools to poll the constituency, and do right by the folks that elected them.

Of course, we’ve all been enamored by the newly elected Executive Branch and their use of “My Idea”-type dialogues with the nation. I have to be honest; it’s awfully crude…compared to the intricacies of human interaction happening every day on Facebook, inside book clubs, and micro-movements that are coordinated using computers to do our social bidding. In fact, a Google Search of “Open Government” uncovers a cornucopia of information about how transparency is coming to government.

My humble question is “What’s next – and what can I do to help?” Where should I look for more on this topic? Anyone want to help me prototype this?

3 Responses to Citizen Connect, First Sketch


Brandon Bohling

January 23rd, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Have you seen: yet? Certainly not at all to the level you mention here, but a step in the right direction, yeah?



January 24th, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Tim, this is awesome. Your sketches just leap off the pages when you give them some life. Think about shooting a quick video giving your take on this. Would love to hear it in words.


Mark Carbone

February 9th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I’d like to help you with this. I am part of a new venture to empower family’s with all the tools we all use in business and social networking. We are making it easy and simple for families to have more power. We’re building “Family Networking”

Let’s talk. I want to share what we’re doing.


Comment Form