POPVOX beta - Changing constituent communication
- Hi all,
I want to share with you a new project that I am working on, called POPVOX.com. This is a new direction for me, going away from focusing on data-driven apps to instead focusing on a particular systemic problem --- namely, that constituent communication with Congress is a big mess. My interest in this was piqued a few years back at CMF's communicating with congress workshop (their work in that area now rebranded under http://pmpu.org/). I strongly believe the mess isn't anyone's fault, but where we are right now is that constituents and advocacy organizations are overwhelming Congress and it's a real shame to know that constituents are writing letters from their hearts that are often never read.
Jake Brewer wrote a great summary of the situation:
(Jake is consulting with POPVOX but this was from him personally.)
This summer I got together with Marci Harris, a former House staffer, and Rachna Choudhry, a former lobbyist, to start working on POPVOX.com. The result is (or will be) a public platform for writing letters to Congress on bills before Congress and for advocacy organizations to put their legislative agendas in one place. We launched our beta a few weeks ago, but there is still a lot left to be done.
The idea isn't new. There are a number of others working on similar ideas. The difference is squarely in the team and the details. For instance, we recognize that there are many stakeholders --- individuals, advocacy orgs, legislative staff, and the media --- with different needs, and we are working closely with representatives from each group in developing a product that facilitates constituent communication for everyone.
One of the aspects of POPVOX that I am excited about is staying engaged in the open government and open source communities. We'll be working with the new standards for constituent communication that CMF has been facilitating the development of, we'll be providing APIs, widgets, and white-label services, and I have several new Django modules in development that I'll be posting once they're tested more.
If you represent a nonprofit, I encourage you to register your org and its agenda on the site. Otherwise, I hope you will play with the site from an individual's point of view. For now you'll need to start by finding a bill you have an opinion about and then go on to express your support or opposition. We'll be smoothing out that process as the site grows.
We have a long way to go, but I look forward to your early feedback and support.
- Josh Tauberer - CTO, POPVOX http://www.popvox.com | http://razor.occams.info