We are thrilled to announce that the Sunlight Foundation has decided to fund two new projects, Metavid and More Perfect. Metavid, created by two UCSC grad students, captures video footage of the House and Senate in action, and is searchable by keyword. Look up "uranium," "peanut butter," or "minimum wage" and watch, on video, what has been said about that subject on the House and Senate floors. When I showed an old colleague the Metavid site, he immediately started looking up words for clients of his who are running for federal office, to see what their opponents had said. But the implications are much broader for the public, which typically has the choice of watching hours of C-SPAN in hopes of catching something, or watching no law-making at all.
More Perfect is a new wiki site for groups and individuals to collectively create drafts of laws which can then be pushed for in state and federal legislation. The founders believe that collaboration is possible in drafting laws, and in fact easier and more important than trying to reconcile different ideological frameworks. They have studied wikis’ successes and failures, and have created rules of thumb that they believe will make policy creation coherent — including the rule that if you completely don’t believe in a draft law, you shouldn’t even be on the page that is drafting it. Only positive additions and suggestions are allowed. The founders have worked both together and opposed to eachother in Washington State politics for years, and are overwhelmed with the competence of citizens and their capacity collaborate given the opportunity — and equally overwhelmed by the absence of opportunities. They are starting with some pilot policy projects, but its an open site, and if you have people you want to draft legislation with, its ready for you.
Both sites have substantial hurdles to overcome, of very different kinds — Metavid has legal and technical hurdles (which I’ll talk about more at a later date) and More Perfect has the hurdle exemplified by the LA Times failed experiment in a wikitorial that had to be shut down after a few days. We believe they can overcome these hurdles, that in each case they must be overcome, and that these inspiring, committed teams are the groups to do it. We are simply delighted to be supporting them.