We talk frequently about "Web 2.0" here at Sunlight. (Yes, we know that's a "buzzword" but it's a handy way of describing the new "read-write" culture of today's Web.) We think a lot about what it means for how Congress presents itself to and interacts with the public. Sunlight's fascinated by (some might say obsessed) with how the interactivity and transparency potential of the Internet can change the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. How citizens can use the Internet to hold lawmakers more accountable for their votes, their earmarks, who they meet with, and what they say when debating legislation. (To wit, see what Rep. George Miller announced yesterday.) We use Web 2.0 "criteria" for our grant making, making sure that organizations we fund use the Internet in creative, interactive, and as a two-way street in their overall strategy. Even the databases we fund (arguably very Web 1.0 tools) have to be developed with the capacity to be exported in formats that others can use to mash different data sets together.Continue reading
As David All and I have written, the rules governing member Web sites are not fit for the 21st Century Web. If the rules were enforced with any regularity, instead of used as a scarecrow to keep members from innovating, then some of the best practices by members on the Web wouldn't be happening. Case in point: Rep. George Miller (D-CA).
Today, George Miller announced a new campaign, called "Ask George," calling on citizens to send videos, through video sharing sites like YouTube, to Miller's office regarding the War in Iraq. Miller's office describes "Ask George" as a "distributed, virtual town hall". Miller also suggests that participants in this conversation "tag" their videos "askgeorge" so that his office can go and find the questions. This way, Miller is the one going out to seek the conversation rather than the citizen or constituent who is usually the one seeking out the congressman.Continue reading