Friday, 24 January 2014

Gov Hackers

The word "hacker" is basically being used for anything nowadays... "I did a supermarket shop this week in less time than it usually would take and I got a couple of really good deals" thus I am a Food Hacker.... "I managed to make it to work 5 mins early today and I saved a child's life, ended poverty, and helped birth a lamb on the way in"... I am a Commuter Hacker... 
Well you get the idea... 

I was reading this article by Clare Sheppard recently which is a call to action for young people to get more involved in politics. It's a pretty good article and I commented on it to add that maybe we should take an aim at the political system with technology, since we as: brilliant, gifted and ... modest ... young people get this (technology) shit. Init. 

I made a passing remark about being "Gov Hackers" and I guess it was maybe my own boredom but I actually got thinking about what a "Gov Hacker" would look like and what would they do? Although, I guess I think that about most people who postfix the word Hacker to their job-title.  

I guess to get the ball rolling I would define a Gov Hacker as someone who has a firm handle on technology and uses this to influence politicians and or political movements. I suppose at this point I probably have the NSA and GCHQ alarms going off with the words Gov and Hacker, so for the benefit of these guys and any other politician reading this then please see here for what is meant. 

Product Idea

Maybe there is room in the market for a Software-as-a-Service app which allows you to "track" and communicate with your local MP / MSP / Senator / Congressman etc... It would involve pulling in all feeds (Twitter, Blogs, Google Alerts) that the politician would have and allow easy communication to that ..... elected representative. 

There should obviously be a function whereby the user of the application could see the expenses that the politician has submitted - but may this is a "premium" feature. Also, the user should be able to see how the politician has voted (if they have bothered to show up) and link back through to petitions from sites such as In fact has a nice little REST API  for developers so this could be done without much hassle. 

Getting general traction would be done through signup / sign in with Twitter or Facebook account. OAuth helps us here. Share to followers / FB wall. Job done. 

Sharing is important here. If something impresses you or more likely annoys you about what your politician is doing then you need to share this. Maybe attach Twitter accounts of the local rags to each politician and if they are high profile then tweet to @bbcnickrobinson. Maybe journalists would actually use the tool in the first instance to keep on top of these folks. 

Should we limit the number of politicians a user can stalk? The last thing we want is users being overwhelmed with information and we don't want to scare off the politicians either. User engagement == political engagement which is the aim of this game. 

Might add to this later but I think that is enough for now... 

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