Civicist: Testing Tech for Consensus in a Purple Town

How a radical experiment in participatory democracy came to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Over the past year, town halls across America have occasionally erupted over hot button issues like health care reform. Rep. Tom MacArthur was shouted down during a five-hour meeting in New Jersey last May; later that summer, a Californian said they hoped Rep. Doug LaMalfa would “die in pain”; and Rep. Ron Blum was called a liar by a prescreened audience in Iowa. A town hall in Bowling Green, Kentucky, last month had none of the shouting or vitriol that made those events national news, but it was the site of something even more elusive: the search for consensus in an increasingly divided nation. Read more…

Civicist: Action Network Puts the Ladder of Engagement on Autopilot

Action Network, the progressive technology non-profit described as the “backbone” of the Resistance, launched a new feature today that automates many of the discreet components of digital organizing. Called “Ladders” in a nod to the “ladder of engagement” organizing model, the tool lets digital organizers design a campaign, set certain conditions—like signing a petition—which trigger certain responses—like emailing an invitation to contact your congressperson—and then sit back and relax. Although for-profits in the commercial space have long used similar tools to poke and prod consumers into buying things, Action Network says Ladders is the most sophisticated example in the online organizing space. Read more…