22 Apr 2005

Open Source Politics

When I was interviewed by Mike Panetta from runforcongress.com, he referred to my campaign as an “open source” campaign. I haven’t really been referring to it as such, but it most definitely is. I come from a software background, so it makes sense to me, but most people have not heard of open source, I would wager.

Open source is basically a collaborative project. In the software world, it means a project where the source code is freely available as long as any changes to the program that you make and distribute are made freely available as well. It is a project where everyone benefits – the user gets free software to use, while the developer gets people to work on their project for free. Some important aspects are complete transparency, peer review and feedback, powerful non-monetary incentives and open participation where your status in the community is based solely on the quality of your work.

There is an interesting paper on this at Demos.co.uk, a British think tank, covering many “open source” projects and initiatives. It is an interesting read, if a little long, but it is very interesting to read in light of this campaign. Quite a lot of the material is directly applicable to how I am running this campaign.


On a side note, in this paper they mention a website used in Britain to track their MPs – what they say, what they do, their voting record, etc. It allows you to read through transcripts of arguments with links to who said what, members interests, expenses, notes other users have left and more. Plus, a great name :


I think this is a great idea, and although there are several sites where you can look up info on your representative, there isn’t really a good site where you can comment effectively on them and their legislation. I got involved shortly in opencongress.com, which I think will fill that gap eventually, but it wasn’t nearly far enough along for me to get involved quite yet.

Anyhow, things to ponder. What would be interesting information to know for you to accurately and satisfactorily track your representative? What would be involving, innovative, open source tactics that I could use in our campaign? What should I have for breakfast? Leave me your feedback.


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