Netizen – Windows 8 app that makes it easy to follow congressional votes
December 6, 2012
( this post is a response to ACT4Apps questionnaire posted by ACT and AT&T )
As a software developer who is also very interested in public policy, I am always looking to build apps that make it easier for folks to follow the public policy discourse. This is why I decided to build Netizen. Netizen is a Windows 8 app (soon to be available in the Windows Store for free) that brings the voting record of your congressional representative to your finger tips. Simply select the Member of Congress you want to follow and "flick through" their voting record.
But I don’t want users of Netizen to merely follow how their representative are voting in congress, instead, I want them to ensure that their voices are being heard. For each bill brought to the floor of the house, Netizen automatically provisions a Facebook page dedicated to your member of congress. This page acts as a virtual ballot for a bill, as well as, a community hub where fellow constituents can gather to express their support. If enough of your friends and neighbors like or unlike the a vote, your congressional representative is sure to pay attention.
Pasted below are some screenshots from the application:
Screenshot #1 – Select state or find your congressional district based on your current location
Screenshot #2 – Select Representative
Screenshot #3 – “Flick through” the most recent roll call votes
Screenshot #4 – “Virtual ballot” – Dynamically generated Facebook page,
Screenshot #5 – Search for a representative
I am working on making this app available on other devices as well. Unfortunately the fragmented app landscape makes it harder for hobbyists and self-funded projects such as Netizen to publish across multiple app stores. If any of you are interested in helping develop versions of this app that run on other mobile platforms, please contact me via my twitter handle @vlele.
I hope that by the time CES 2022 rolls around, we can build an electronic, friction free voting system that allows anyone with a tablet or a smart phone to securely cast a vote on the important issues of the day. Such a capability, combined with a vote counting system that leverages the seemingly infinite computational resources available to us today, in order to make the voting results available in a snap. Perhaps that is the only hope to make law-making work again.
Finally, in order for sustain continued innovation in the app development, especially for hobbyists and startups, we need to strike a balance between regulation and room for innovation. Case in point, some of the recent changes proposed to the privacy laws for apps can lead to unintended consequences for the overall app economy.