The Rise of Crowdsourced Politics
by Dustin DeMoss
Chapter 1 - Foreword by Author
Dear Reader, I believe in the ideas of crowdsourcing especially in the legislative process. It is my hope that individuals with the power to influence the legislative process locally and nationally are able to read this for the benefit of our representative democracy. While this ebook details the steps to crowdsourcing. However, in order to implement on a scale necessary to transform civic engagement, more influence must be made on your part. I believe in the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, an English politician and novelist who wrote, "The pen is mightier than the sword." I thank you for reading this, and I hope you will keep an open mind as to the power this new tool can wield in our representative democracy. Thank you, Dustin DeMoss
Chapter 2 - Prelude to Constituent Power
Ninety-nine percent of the United States wishes to have power against the interests of capitalist corporations and the hegemony that exists because of these empires of persuasion. These corporate entities exist because of the capitalist structure, and it is because of them that nearly nothing but their interests exist in the legislative and executive branches of government. In order to facilitate an interest in the common man, certain appreciations must be garnered from the politicians. The common man is a brief thought in the minds of politicians because they are surrounded by the “system”: the political machine whereby they cater to the special interests and people within their party, claim the positions that cater to their constituency, then go on to fulfill their own self-interests and the corporate plutocracy. "Power to the People" by John Lennon was a song that talked of giving people their power back. Another song "Instant Karma" talked of the power of receiving what you've given. Both of these are powerful songs and relate to the ideas we should take with regard to our political system. Power should be given to the people, and when it is not, we should carefully define how to instigate the prospect of "Instant Karma" to the special interests and corporate whores of D.C. Iceland did it best when their country was falling apart due to bankruptcy and had a government that failed to meet the needs of their people. This country had the third largest financial meltdown in recent recorded history due to a lack of transparency, corruption, and nepotism. Icelanders demanded to get rid of the government, head of the central bank, and the financial authority. Through months of demonstrations, they did. Another point they demanded was to write the new constitution without politicians involved, and they did. The foundation for their new constitution was created by a group of 1,000 randomly selected people from the national registry, and 25 people to actually write it. They then instilled the idea of "direct democracy." The capital city of Reykjavík instituted the "Direct Democracy Platform" which in other circles is commonly called idea crowdsourcing. Citizens can put in a suggestion in a community forum about things they want to be done in the city. The city council has to take the top five suggestions and process them every month. The next step is to have a similar system for the parliament. The logical step after that is to have the same system for the ministries. The system whereby citizens have the power to enact change within a political system through the processes of a technologically-capable democracy is quite an innovative change in the status of political processes. This is the type of change we need within government and especially neo-capitalist structures to combat the corporate hegemony that exists. Idea crowdsourcing holds a prospect for a new paradigm in political structures. If we are truly an open society and believe in an open government, why can't even a fraction of "direct democracy" be implemented in the USA? Why can't political candidates have
their policies shaped by the people, by their constituency instead of the political party or corporate interests? It's a fact that it is the way it is because change is slow. The unyielding influence of special interests plays a part in this. Why would they want you to have control when they indulge in it at the plight of your interests? The basic idea is to re-think the consensus of American politics today, and instigate a revolutionary change using technology. Politicians should begin using these tools such as idea crowdsourcing even though it may seem like a political gamechanger and bizarrely seems to not be in their best interest at this time. Self-interest psychology will tell them not to implement this in their campaigns or during their reign as the status quo. But ultimately, the winds of change carrying this new revolutionary idea will begin to slowly creep into the consciousness of the citizens. Of course, the United States will never be a direct democracy, but idea crowdsourcing can begin to take root in the campaigns of the political class and give a new psychology to the idea of listening to the citizenry. Think of the implications of this new technological age using idea crowdsourcing in the sphere of political campaigns with politicians actually listening to their constituency. The implications are exciting: the political class would be at the mercy of the constituency. Isn't this the type of America everyone dreams of but isn't able to see? Special interests, lobbyists, and corporate Zeus' would forever be vanquished with the light of this new technological political age.
Chapter 3 - What is crowdsourcing?
Crowdourcing is a system whereby tasks are outsourced to a distributed group of people. Crowdsourcing can be in the form of investing in businesses, generating ideas, etc. A couple of big crowdsourcing/crowdfunding businesses include indiegogo.com which allows artists to give a synopsis of their project and investors contribute for certain "benefits", and challenge.gov which crowdsources ideas for solutions to big government problems. Idea crowdsourcing is very powerful and it can change the way the government operates if we were to implement it on a scale at the local level. This will enable politicians to hear the voices of their constituents and actually listen to them. If this were implemented on a local scale and the people see that the politicians are listening with the best ideas bubbling to the top, it would reinforce the future of democracy in America and put the special interests at the back of the wagon. Idea crowdsourcing works this way: let’s say you have a policy issue such as gun control. At a local level, you put "Gun Control Policy" into a category/forum for the software you are using. (If you need an example, visit uservoice.com and create your own.)Your constituents begin to voice their opinion. The best ideas on that issue will bubble to the top, and be voted on by the community. The ideas of your constituents come into fruition and help solve that issue for you. This is pretty simple. Let’s say you’re from Oklahoma. The majority of the ideas will be that there should be no gun control policy and that the state should have open carry laws. In another state such as Massachusetts, the ideas for the policy would be that there should definitely be a gun control policy, and that automatic weapons should be banned within the state. It's that simple! Another aspect of crowdsourcing which is interesting and could aptly apply to positions in local government to implement in issues such as building a new school is crowdfunding. Instead of imposing a tax on the populace which invariably has a vaguely defined end date of taxing, why not ask the people of that district to crowdfund the school? Say the school costs $5,000,000, you would only need 200,000 donations of $25. Why can't we do this? The community cares enough for this cause, and surely you'd receive donations larger than $25. You could give plaques for every $25,000 donated, and everyone loves their name etched in stone. Private individuals of the district would have a charitable cause to donate to and would receive recognition for their investment in the community as well receive a tax benefit. These are just a few ideas of how Americans can implement crowdsourcing in government. Crowdsourcing/crowdfunding can solve many of the problems inherent in government; the power of these applications have yet to be endeavored upon by the political class. The citizens needs to recognize the importance of these foundational advances in the spectrum of politics and government.
These applications have far-reaching implications to the American political scene. It enables candidates and their constituency to become more intimately acquainted. Crowdsourcing/crowdfunding is the new paradigm and politicians need to recognize these applications. As the old saying goes, "Adapt or die." The difference between crowdsourcing and opinion-gathering is that groups of people are willing to donate their time and effort for rewards, and contribute intellectual resources to providing a solution. Another important aspect of crowdsourcing is map crowdsourcing. For instance, this can be used in a crisis. In the conflict in Libya, the Ushahidi platform was used to gather intel and immediate feedback about the revolution developing there. The world was able to get real-time information about the events and the conflicts within the country through this platform, and the rebels used it quite extensively to coordinate. They used people outside the country to inform them of the current attacks as there was no internet connection at the time. The major application of crowdsourcing in the United States is crowdfunding. The examples of this are Indiegogo.com, Kickstarter.com, and Kiva.org. This phenomenon has brought many artists, third-world entrepreneurs, and first-world entrepreneurs much success. People are willing to fund it with or without rewards for themselves. It is charitable in some cases. In the case of Kiva.org, you are able to receive your money back once the third-world entrepreneur repays in the fund. In the case of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you receive rewards such as a DVD of a film, producer credits on a film, an autographed book, or a CD. Other examples extend to intelligence firms, business, science, etc.
Chapter 4 - When did crowdsourcing begin?
The earliest example of crowdsourcing began with Oxford English Dictionary when the publication asked for volunteers to contribute definitions and the use of those definitions in a sentence form. Over a period of 70 years, they received more than 6 million letters. The next example was the Montyon prizes in France prior to the French Revolution. Baron de Montyon decided to gives prizes for a number of acts but mainly created the prizes for poor Frenchmen who did virtuous acts of kindness. Prizes were created for the following: making an industrial process less unhealthy, perfecting of any technical improvement in a mechanical process, a book which, during the year, rendered the greatest service to humanity, the "prix de vertu" for the most courageous act on the part of a poor Frenchman. Many consider the Montyon prizes forerunners to the Nobel Prize. Crowdsourcing had humble beginnings but the advent of the technological era ushered a new kind of crowdsourcing that was readily available to everyone in the world. Now with the Internet, there are million-dollar corporations incorporating because of crowdsourcing/crowdfunding. Businesses outsource their tasks to workers via the internet. Micro-tasks are crowdsourced (e.g., crowdflower.com where people sign up to earn money for handling companies micro-tasks). Kiva.org helps entrepreneurs in thirdworld countries, thanks to crowdfunding. The applications of crowdsourcing/crowdfunding are virtually limitless. Crowdsourcing can be either implicit or explicit. Explicit crowdsourcing is much like using Facebook whereby people post information, critique books, or other various uses. Implicit is used where people try to solve a problem.
Chapter 5 - Iceland
Iceland, after the financial collapse of 2008, looked within and found that part of the problem was the system itself. Much of the language for their constitution was borrowed from Denmark's constitution. Iceland declared independence from Denmark in June 17, 1944. In 2009, Iceland assembled the National Assembly made up of 1,000 people from the national registry. People from all over the nation gathered to generate ideas about what they would like to see in society and in their constitution. As the National Assembly continued their efforts, a will to create the new constitution emerged. They then decided that there should be a 25-member Constitutional Council. The stipulations for this council were that one has never been in political office and has never run for political office. The council was assembled for the purpose of drafting the new constitution. They collectively crowdsourced the new constitution. Then the "Direct Democracy Platform" took shape in the capital city of Reykjavík. The constitution and the Direct Democracy Platform were kind of like a child's primer. In the Direct Democracy Platform, the top five suggestions are taken by and voted on by the city council. Iceland is now taking steps to institute this in the parliament and the ministries. Real changes are possible by the masses. Iceland is, of course, a population of only 311,000 but they are innovators, much like the United States. A larger population means Americans necessarily have to take care when approaching this type of incorporation into a representative democracy. Americans have to learn best practices for a representative democracy to enable a crowdsourced legislation type of application.
Chapter 6 - Finland
Finland created a pure crowdsourcing process for legislation in 2012. They created the "Open Ministry" whereby citizens could create new laws. If 50,000 of those citizens draft and support the legislation, the parliament will vote on it. Only registered voters are allowed to participate and is verified through bank and mobile security procedures. According to the Finnish government’s website, "A new form of participation on the state level, citizens' initiative, will be taken into use in Finland on 1 March 2012. It offers citizens a possibility to have their initiative considered by the Parliament. The objective of the new system is to promote free civic activity." It goes on to state that, "According to the new provision in the Constitution, which enters into force in the beginning of March, at least fifty thousand Finnish citizens entitled to vote have the right to submit an initiative for the enactment of an Act to the Parliament. The Act on citizens' initiative includes provisions on the procedure to be followed when organising a citizens' initiative." Regarding the process of drafting a bill, it says, "a citizens' initiative may be organised by one or several Finnish citizens who are entitled to vote. The organiser shall designate one representative and one substitute to take care of the practicalities relating to the initiative procedure." And regarding the requirements and purposeful uses, "a citizens' initiative may include either a bill or a proposal that a bill drafting process should be started. An initiative may also concern amending or repealing an effective Act. If the initiative is formulated as a bill, it shall include the actual sections of the proposed legislation. The initiative shall comprise only one complex of issues and it must always include reasons for the proposal." This is a great accomplishment on the part of the Finnish government and which all democratic governments should begin to emulate.
Chapter 7 - United States
The United States has had varying levels of interest in the crowdsourcing of legislation. The Texas Senate Committee on Commerce and Trade has crowdsourced legislation on payday loans, and the SOPA and PIPA bills created a crowdsourced bill called OPEN started by Darrel Isaa (R-California) and Roy Wyden (D-Oregon). The Obama administration started an online petitioning site called “We The People.” It allows petitions to be created and once 50,000 Americans have petitioned the Obama administration, it would go to policy advisors. The Obama administration would then issue a statement about the issue. This is a dissatisfying use of crowdsourcing. Largely, the civic-minded want to create change, but it doesn't take into account the mixture of minds of the population. It is for small organized groups to collaborate and voice their opinion about an issue, and doesn't allow for true crowdsourcing, only a petition. While this is a great first step on part of the administration, true crowdsourcing needs a broader application. The broader application is when the citizens can actually crowdsource and promote best ideas through best practices. It should enable language within legislation to be changed by the crowd, allowing the bills to be voted on given a certain amount of people engaged in it.
Chapter 8 - Why do Americans need crowdsourcing in politics?
The reasons should be clear why the United States needs crowdsourcing in politics. But the best reason one can give is Monsanto. Monsanto is a multinational corporation in the United States best known for creating Agent Orange during Vietnam. Despite the unethical and vicious ways of this corporation, they have systematically been able to develop the policies for the United States regarding the incorporation of pesticides and herbicides that have been chemically altered for the production of crops. Despite the fact that these chemicals contain carcinogenic ingredients, they have persisted nonetheless. Furthermore, Monsanto has produced bovine hormones the effects of which have yet to be understood in how they relate to the health of humans. Monsanto intimidates rural farmers both domestically and internationally. Monsanto owns Blackwater (which is literally a private army that has been used in Afghanistan and the previous war in Iraq). The fact that these two powers can now converge on and intimidate any farmer, domestic or otherwise, sends a powerful message about the unethical nature of these two corporate structures. These two corporate powers forging a partnership is clearly unethical given their respective backstories. Both have invaded the power structure of the United States with their defense applications and past dealings with the government. Corporate Personhood is legal fiction; it is the ability for a court to decide something that is not true is true. Corporations are considered people although they cannot vote, don't have human rights, and oftentimes are not held accountable for crimes. Goldman Sachs for its part in the 2007-2009 financial crisis did not face any criminal charges and practically wrote the bailout for the mortgage industry due to personal and professional ties between their leadership and the executive and legislative branches of government. Corporations and government are more intimately intertwined than the common man and government. The Public Choice Theory proposes that a small organized group will always outweigh those of the general public. The idea behind this is that when legislation benefits a small group of organized individuals and the costs are diffused across a population, the small group will always win, often with negative implications for the wider population. Many people believe Goldman Sachs had a hand in the bailout of the 2007-2009 mortgage prime loan crisis. It is true that the Obama administration and officials of the administration had unmistakable ties to the corporation. Former CEO of AIG Hank Greenberg said in relation to this in an interview with Bloomberg, "Obviously, there are those who believe this was a backdoor bailout to Goldman Sachs." He then went on to say, "I believe it was." This just highlights the example of Public Choice Theory relative to corporate interests.
The SOPA and PIPA legislation is a great example of how small organized groups or such as Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) converge to create legislation for legislators to enact, which have damning repercussions for the rest of the nation, and for freedom on the internet. SOPA and PIPA show what political scientists have known all along and that is, those who have incentive to participate in the drafting of legislation can create the laws. Crowdsourcing gives the common man the power and incentive to craft legislation, make recommendations, and give insight into their ideas of what legislation should include. Crowdsourcing can change this. Instead of corporations introducing legislations, a counter-measure on the part of civic participation in crowdsourcing legislation can outweigh these forces. Instead of crowdsourcing legislation selectively such as the OPEN bill, Americans could crowdsource every piece of legislation generally. Of course, this would not be implemented in a representative democracy, but what if a private entity allowed us to crowdsource legislation, and then send the suggestions to our federally-elected politicians? It would be a powerful tool to voice the citizens’ solutions to our country’s problems. The application of crowdsourcing legislation directly by Congress is unlikely, but private entities could create a tool unheralded in this representative democracy to inform, transform, and build upon the relationship that exists between Congress and their constituents. These are the forces that need to be fought against: the powerful corporate and special interests that exist in DC today. Some might call it naive to put faith in software to help change this. There is an equally antithetical argument against the crowdsourcing tools in the context of their counter-applications against corporate and special interests. Corporate and special interests are able to take advantage of this software because they are keen on being able to quickly assemble legislation, and therefore, crowdsource the legislation among themselves. That is why the USA needs a general legislation crowdsourcing application or a private entity that crowdsources legislation and gives legislators the insight from their constituency. Both sides of the coin are going to use this tool, but it is up to innovators to bring about the positive aspects of it. The innovators are waiting at the drop of a hat to inspire and create. All they need is the right person, entrepreneur, politician, or idealist to help create a platform for national change. The vacuum that exists in civic participation will be changed forever if only the country will grasp the power of this new dialogue. Crowdsourcing legislation is democracy 2.0; it's democracy on steroids without the negative side effects. Our country will soon be at a crossroads with regards to diplomacy and domestic policy. Instead of the nation internalizing its processes, it must make the processes more open and transparent while undergoing constructive criticism about the difficult path we face. The time for this change is now!
The difficulty lies in those who accept the status quo and the modus operandi of the current structure of government. Our forefathers never accepted the status quo and challenged the nature of government with revolutionary ideas that transformed and transcended generations, influencing the entire world with their concept of democracy. It would be a great disservice to future generations to not implement this type of service and our forefathers would be ashamed if we did not innovate and bring about democracy 2.0.
Chapter 9 - What should we do?
Direct democracy (the Iceland example) is a system whereby people vote on policy initiatives directly as opposed to representative democracy (United States) where people vote for politicians who then implement the views of the citizenry in the legislature. The framers of the United States constitution were opposed to direct democracy. Therefore, it should not be implemented in its totality in the United States government. The proposal to consider is should the United States implement variations of direct democracy into the structure of government? Should politicians implement direct democracy software into their campaign structure? It would be a revolution in American politics to give the citizenry a true voice in order to solve policy dilemmas for their Congressman or Senator. Congressmen and Senators need this tool in order to survive. They should implement it in their campaign structure in order to affect the psychology of the campaign. How can anyone vote against a candidate that wants them to voice policy solutions? It would change the landscape of American politics. Politics is going to change, and crowdsourcing is the future of that change. It is inevitable that in 5 to 10 years, we will see the crowdsourcing platform used as in the Reykjavík example, only that in America, it will be used to a lesser degree in the campaigns of the computer literate political class. I Inevitably, there will be much ado about it until it becomes fashionable in the stratosphere of political discourse. The ultimate goal of this proposed change in American politics is to create a more open and transparent government for and by the people as opposed to pseudo-people (a.k.a. corporate entities). Many citizens lack a basic understanding of how to initiate policy or contribute to policy because they lack the political literacy, confidence, or skills. Crowdsourcing would enable these citizens to give their ideas to the elected representatives, and would encourage, expand, and build upon the United States system of representative democracy. This dissuasion from the political process isn't new. For decades, political participation and trust has been on the decline. Of course, this only suits politicians and the benefactors of this type of negligence on the part of the American consciousness. In order to transcend this barrier, we must build levels of interest in public policy. Information literacy needs to be built up through education in the long-term for all ages (formal and life-long learning), and then connect the people with pre-requisite skills and knowledge with communities that need their support, all through legislative crowdsourcing.
This can work because the power of crowdsourcing lies in the power of the networks it facilitates. There is the potential to overcome the power of corporate interests in this new media. On the flip side, politicians and policy makers will have to listen, respond, and listen again in order to bring about the message that they can craft policy that the constituency wants. In order to establish this new unparalleled force by combining direct democracy, representative democracy, and technological applications, we need to bring the technology to the people. We can extend our outreach on these crowdsourcing applications by engaging the public through blogs, social media, and websites. The government uses challenge.gov to engage solutions in government from federal employees and the public is able to submit their solutions for cash prizes, but this crowdsourcing idea should shift into local policy applications through city councils, state senators and representatives, and on to federally-elected policy makers. Engaging the public about policy issues through crowdsourcing is the way of the future. In Finland, the government started the "Citizen's Initiative" and where registered voters can make new laws and crowdsource it. If they get 50,000 of their fellow citizens to back it, then the parliament (the Eduskunta) will have to vote on it. The program is supported by the Open Ministry project. The Open Ministry's founder said this about the technical details, “The National Communications Security Authority audited our code, our security policies, and our service/hosting providers to ensure that the details of citizens are safe and can’t be hacked into. [The system verifies] the people’s identity through the APIs offered by banks and mobile operators. So people can sign the initiatives online with the online banking codes or their mobile phones.” Among the proposed law changes in Finland on the Open Ministry platform is a ban on fur farming, a requirement for all public software procurement to take into account open data and APIs, a ban on energy drinks for teens, and a referendum on Finland’s restrictive alcohol laws. Finland is a very forward-thinking democracy, and if crowdsourced legislation is going to work anywhere, this is the country where the model would be likely to succeed. President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups bill or JOBS bill in March 2012 which gave startups the ability to crowdfund up to 1 million dollars without filing with SEC. Investors can invest up to $10,000 or 10% of their annual income into these crowdfunded companies. President Obama said about this bill, "Because of this bill, startups and small businesses will now have access to a big new pool of potential investors, namely the American people." Crowdsourcing has the potential to change a number of facets in the business, healthcare, and political communities if only we'd
harness that power. The country is more focused on the capitalist qualities of crowdsourcing than it is on the civic-minded applications of crowdsourcing. When the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was introduced, Representative Darrell Issa (Republican) of California and Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat) of Oregon created a crowdsourced effort to combat it through another bill on the website KeepTheWebOpen.com for the Online Protection and Enforcement Digital Trade Act (known as OPEN) using the Madison platform. The website functioned like Wikipedia and had the familiar commenting system. You could click a sentence in the bill and change it. Issa commented to the Washington Post on this saying, "This is a grand experiment.” They created Madison, inspired by the quote by James Madison, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." Writing for The Atlantic, Alexander Furnas said this about the Madison platform, "Ultimately, the crowdsourcing process of OPEN is a promising step in using the Internet for democratic engagement in the U.S., but it is far from the "direct digital democracy" that Issa claims. As an attempt, it is admirable, and its goal of participatory engagement in drafting legislation is one that hopefully others will emulate. But as a platform, Madison is flawed. It is a platform designed without paying enough attention to the lessons learned and best practices developed by those already within the social web space. What its designers overlooked is that collaborative consultation online is merely a political application of already existing social web interactions. The last six or seven years have given us thousands of mini-experiments into how to do social engagement right online, and designing successful political engagement platforms need to learn from them." Basically, he said that it was a good first step in the United States, but ultimately. the software lacked the necessary best practices of crowdsourcing. In the Philippines, Filipino Senator Teofisto "TG" D. Guingona III introduced a bill which would help crowdsource legislation called the Crowdsourcing Act of 2012. It went beyond the scope of similar bills by engaging public participation. Some of the proposed parts of the bill would allow the public to comment online on bills, make those comments part of the permanent public record, publish the schedule of committee hearings online, and the creation of online mechanisms for collecting and displaying public feedback. This bill failed and was not adopted by the legislature. Regarding the bill, Guingona said to the Philippine Star, "When people are allowed to participate, we have better laws," Guingona made a statement of fact, and he should be commended for his efforts in the Philippines. According to the Texas Tribune, in anticipation of the 2013 legislative session, the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce is going to begin an effort to crowdsource legislation. Daily Crowdsource (DailyCrowdsource.com) said this about the proposed efforts, "Anyone with Internet can log on to a forum and give their input on a piece of legislation. The idea is to allow individuals without access to legislative hearings to get involved in policy formulation."
Interestingly enough, crowdsourcing is being adopted by the Pentagon through Applied Research Associates. They have been conducting a study to see how crowdsourcing can affect the intelligence community. There is a private firm which already crowdsources security intelligence for businesses, but the Pentagon wants to study it before it is adopted. Participants interested in a range of topics, including politics, military, economics, science, technology, and social affairs are invited to participate. The project's aim is to develop a defense application for crowdsourcing using the opinion of the crowd to forecast future events. Crowdsourcing could have a dynamic impact on the security of the nation and the world. Imagine if we had crowdsourced intelligence prior to 9/11, and acted on that information. The private company that is crowdsourcing security intelligence is Wikistrat. They call their model of intelligence crowdsourcing, "the world’s first massively multiplayer online consultancy." Wikistrat mainly develops "what if" scenarios to future geopolitical events. This underlies the vast resources of crowdsourcing when intelligence firms are using it. Dell created a crowdsourcing website for its customers to generate ideas on products and services called Ideastorm. One of the ideas that Dell moved on was to allow its products to have the Ubuntu operating system installed optionally. After it was suggested, Dell implemented the idea three months later. If multinational corporations are using idea crowdsourcing, why can't the federal government? Even non-profits are using crowdsourcing. Sparked.com is a website where non-profits can sign up and crowdsource work for free. Most of it is digital work where skilled graphic artists, web developers, etcetera are contributing 15 minutes to a few hours working on projects for these non-profits. The AmeriCorps Vista program has even used it. If intelligence firms, multinational corporations, and non-profits are using crowdsourcing, why can't the federal government? Scientists have created games that use crowdsourcing. Foldit is a game produced for the purpose of finding a solution to a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDs-like virus. Scientists collected a group of gamers to have them accurately represent the model of the enzyme. Users were asked to fold known proteins while taking into consideration the physical properties of the molecule. They accomplished finding a working model of the enzyme in less than 10 days. If intelligence firms, multinational corporations, nonprofits, and scientists use crowdsourcing, why can't the federal government? Although some politicians are open to this transformation in American politics, the majority will laugh at the idea or have skepticism about it. Mahatma Gandhi said it best concerning this, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." So, of course, this new transformation is being ignored for the most part except for a few instances because representative democracy or rather, the politicians are threatened by it because more civic participation means more eyes carefully watching their actions. Skepticism invades the public square because the models for this technology in crafting legislation does not have a consensus best practices, and invariably the model will be fought against by the status quo if it is tried on a federal
level for general crafting of legislation in the United States.But in the end, time changes attitudes and the consensus model will win. A model which could work without the inconsistencies of representative versus direct democracy and the conflict of instituting a federally-supported crowdsourced apparatus is a private entity taking the challenge to crowdsource legislation as a means to inform policy makers on the federal level. By rewarding the participants and generating good ideas on the legislation that is being adopted in the House, it would necessarily impact the way Congressmen think about how they craft their laws. They would most definitely seek the advice of this private entity given the nature of a national private entity producing crowdsourced legislation. It would be a unique think tank for the federal policy makers, and would bear the fruits of a civic-minded constituency that generates tremendously powerful ideas in the context of whatever type of legislation is being introduced. The crowdsourcing think tank would reward the best ideas with monetary prizes or send people on trips to meet their federally-elected politicians. A way to engage the public, give tools to policy makers, and reward both partnershipsis a win-win all the way around. Either way one views it, crowdsourcing is a triumph for civic participation, even in the context of a private entity application of it. This is a new tool for a new democracy, and one in which - special interests and the corporate world are countered. Subversion of the application can be guarded against in many instances. One can even have this done at the local level by only allowing internet protocol addresses from the areas where a politician's constituency is based. If more politicians implemented this on a local level, it would translate to national or private entity basis for crowdsourcing legislation.
Chapter 10 - How will crowdsourcing change the political landscape?
Crowdsourcing will change the political atmosphere through three measures. 1. Political Psychology: Constituents will feel more appreciated and, in turn, vote for said politician that enacts a crowdsourcing platform. This will reveal a more intimate relationship between constituents and politicians, thereby changing the paradigm. 2. National Dialogue: The national dialogue will be more focused on solutions rather than hearsay and dogma. It will start at the local level until it builds into a national dialogue of focused issues and focused solutions. 3. Critique of Corporate Hegemony: The crowdsourcing platforms will offer a critique of the corporate hegemony and instill a distrust of politicians that cater to the corporate world. Every time a politician doesn't bend to the will of the people and instead bends to the will of the corporate, the intimate relationships that said politician has built with the constituents will erode. Crowdsourcing legislation is a big idea and it is not without merit. This is the future and politicians can either adapt and change or win a Darwin award. This software exists for a higher purpose and those purposes relate to security intelligence, business, science, and, last but not least, legislation. It is counterintuitive to argue that direct democracy has no place in a representative democracy. The software does not change the structure of the democracy, it only breathes life into it.
Chapter 11 - About the Author
Dustin DeMoss holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations, is an eBook author, and a veteran. He is a civic-minded democratic activist and holds the position of 2nd District Representative on the Oklahoma Democratic Veterans Committee. It is his hope that this eBook will transform the way Americans think about politics, legislation, and technology to enable a more efficient and responsible democracy.