8 more innovative political and civic technologies

There was another Tools Shootout session at Netroots Nation (#nn12) today. We’re all a bit more exhausted than Thursday’s session (13 of the Newest Political and Civic Tools), but Dan Ancona held it down and showcased another round of shiny new tools. Here are the ones I didn’t cover in the last post:

Democrats traditionally outdid Republicans online until 2010, when Republicans matched the voter file to browser cookies and targeted ads like direct mail. Jim Walsh introduced the Democratic answer: DSPolitical‘s cookie. In addition to giving out blue-frosted cookies all weekend, the tool allows campaigns to target voters online based on their voting record and 42 segments. The result is more accurate and efficient advertising (and probably a pending Filter Bubble nightmare).

Eric Ruben provides an overview Salsa Labs. The founding organization, DemocracyInAction, works with 2,200 organizations, including the AFL-CIO and many other progressive groups. The suite includes mass email tools, donation pages, a CRM, events, advocacy and contact-your-representative tools, and third party plugins.

Marci Harris founded PopVox after years as a congressional staffer. There are two ways to move legislation: move money, or move people. But there’s no good way to measure people. Counting people is hard, Congress only wants to hear from constituents, and Congress is overwhelmed by the messages generated by online tools. Congressional offices have the same number of staffers that they had in the 1970’s.

The voice of the people is diffused and frequently unfocused. A letter asking Congress to Save the Whales is not the same as asking Congress to pass HR 1234 banning whaling ships. PopVox works with Congress to deliver the people’s voice in a clean, organized format. There’s XML tagging and the messages practically sort themselves once they reach congressional offices. Individuals and organizations go through the site or its embeddable widget to support or oppose bills. All positions and counts are mapped publicly on their site. At the moment, their community is 53% Republican and 47% Democrat.

ElectNext (@electnext) is building an eHarmony for voters to find candidates they might support. They translate political data into tools that help create a more informed electorate. If you’re in the political data world today, you have access to tons of information about voters (250 unique data points). But when you flip the equation and look at what the American voter knows, consistently less than half can tell you anything about Congress, candidate positions, and other information. Where’s the average voter’s political database? ElectNext has pulled together 15 million datapoints to determine where over 4,500 candidates stand on issues. They’re live with US Senate, House and presidency and hope to expand to every US election. They also have a widget with issue and voter-candidate matching features.

Jim Pugh of Rebuild the Dream shows us Control Shift Labs, a platform to allow their members to create their own campaigns. It competes with Change.org and Signon.org, also here at the conference. As an organization, Rebuild the Dream is using the self-service campaign platform as a mechanism to identify members within their ranks who are ready to step up and assume a leadership position. This, in my opinion, is a hugely underserved area within online grassroots organizations.

Leif Utne‘s at WareCorp, which runs the SoapBlox blogging platform. It powers 80 political blogs with millions of monthly views across the network. They’ve relaunched SoapBlox.net as a media property that aggregates content. The new technology they’re announcing today is the idea of paying bloggers for content (with 50% of the advertising revenue they receive). You can become a contributor here.

Oh, and I showed off LazyTruth, which is launching imminently. Sign up at LazyTruth.com.

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