Dragging Congress to 2.0

May 30 2008 / by AllyKlimkoski / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 16 Hot

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 friendly.

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 cabinet position.

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 constituents.

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.)

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Semantic Web + Access to Govt = Change

March 01 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 11

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 bureaucracies.

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 machine-readable

2) put emerging semantic web applications to work crunching this data

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 directions.

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New Legislation Would Ban Silent Camera Phones, Reveals the Need for Faster, Smarter Government

January 27 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2009   Rating: 2

camera_broadcast.jpgWhen 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.

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Poll: How much will people know about YOU in 2020?

March 11 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2020   Rating: 1

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 the vote.

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?

Assumptions:
- 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 below!

How much will people know about YOU in 2020?

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