Cross-posted from futuremajority.com
A few times this year bloggers got
the wild hair to start talking about the potential we have to
bring more people to our government by making Congress more 2.0
It started way back in March, when Matt Stoller at Open Left
went off about
Franking Rules. Franking Rules are Congressional regulations
that limit what members of Congress can do in outreach to their
constituents. Sometimes too much outreach from a Congressional
office can be seen as “campaigning” and the Franking Rules protect
taxpayers from essentially paying for campaigns and creating an
unfair advantage for incumbents. Since I heard about them, I’ve not
stopped thinking about their implications. Well, in reality I had
been thinking about it before that back when Obama’s campaign
announced that it would make the Chief Technology Officer a
The problem in Congress is that our Franking Rules were last
updated back in 1998 before google, before mapquest and google
earth, before DailyKos, before an age when people actually had
access to information and their Representatives literally at their
fingertips. Thus they are out of step with where we are today, not
to mention the potential for the future, and it continues to grow
by leaps and bounds too quickly.
While I’ll agree that Congress’s use of technology is better
than they it used to be, there is still a huge lack of availability
for our members to use technology to create cheaper, more
connected, and more transparent relationships with their
Franking Rules state that unless you’re in the leadership you
can’t use anything outside the House/Senate firewall. So, YouTube
is technically not ok (even though most members are pushing the
envelope), no Facebook, or Myspace… nothing… (cont.)
It’s no secret that we have a problem. The American political
system is a bit secretive, quite inefficient and wastes a good
amount of our resources. Such is the nature of gigantic
Like any problem, to solve it we must first quantify or count
it. With large groups of people involved, any such quantification
must be very accurate and very easy to understand at a glance.
This notion is nearly synonymous with a concept that David
Stephenson refers to as transparent government, or “using Web 2.0 apps … to allow informed debate on policy
alternatives, to find convergences (possible synergies—and wasteful
overlaps), and to allow people with particular interests and/or
expertise to contribute to issues.”
Thanks to the evolution of the web and internet applications,
we’ll soon take a big leap in our ability to simulate super-complex
political systems (especially if they are computer-dependent). Two
fundamental, yet eminently do-able, steps remain to be taken:
1) make the majority of government information
2) put emerging semantic web applications to work crunching this
Change will swiftly follow if we can accurately and neatly
organize political relationship trees, decision patterns and
funding flows into a digestible “graph” that anyone can easily
re-sort and view a million different ways from a billion different
When discussing accelerating change I often remind people that technology is a double-edged sword. Reinforcing this mantra, a new bill, the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, that would ban silent picture-taking via mobile phones to combat child exploitation has been presented to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The problem is legitimate and therefore requires what futurist John Smart would call an "immune system response", which may come in the form of a social, technological or hybrid solution.
But the proposed bill is invasive and a bit naive (not accel-aware) considering the quickly dropping component costs fueling an explosion in small devices sporting sophisticated cameras, video cameras and audio recording devices.
In other words, the problem is actually MUCH BIGGER than Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), the author of the legislation, recognizes at this time.
In just a few years we'll have micro-devices capable of always-on, persistent video streaming. Many will argue that these are critical to their health (longitudinal life logs for doctors and software to analyze, prosthetic sensing for those who need it - or even those who don't), business (reality TV x 10, regional quantification efforts, selling feeds), education (process capture for superior feedback), social life (symbionts, real-time dating services), entertainment (mixing real-time feeds with other content, critical component of augmented reality), right to document history for future purposes and so forth.
On the flipside, this will further expand the abilities of predators, criminals and other social griefers. They'll be able to remotely operate arrays of micro-cams (a world of bugs), stalk people in new ways, hack massive amounts of personal data, etc.
The question asked in last week’s community poll was, “How many
planets will a child born in the year 2000 visit in his or her
lifetime?” Nearly 43% of those who responded answered either 1, 2,
or 3. However, the number one answer was 9 or more, with 54.05% of
Due to the Future Blogger piece The Inevitability
of Transparency and Future Scanner scan The Myth of a
Transparent Society , today’s poll is about transparency and
privacy. The question is: How much will people know about
YOU in 2020?
- You’re still alive.
- You live in a developed country.
- “people” does not include the government or CIA-equivalent.
We welcome you to explain your reasoning in the comment thread