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The Tea Party Could Benefit from Some Data Standardization

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, March 8 2010

The Tea Party has gotten itself an iPhone app, reports the Hill's Hillicon Alley blog. It shows, based on geography, where your closest tea party event is being held or local chapter is meeting. But wait, which Tea Party?

The new app, available free from the iTunes app store, is actually pulling its feed from the Tea Party Patriots (their motto: "Official Grassroots American Movement"), which is organized by Dick Armey's FreedoomWorks and drove many of the protests and rallies we've seen across the country. But among the better known tea party entities, there's also the Tea Party Express, a national bus tour organized by a conservative PAC called Our Country Deserves Better, chaired by a former Assistant Republican Leader in the California State Assembly. And then there's Tea Party Nation, the company that, somewhat controversially, pulled together a "National Tea Party Convention" in Nashville last month. There are others.

"Which Tea Party" is driving that new iPhone app might seem like a silly question, but it points to the idea that (a) the movement has multiple parts and (2) because it does, this is a movement that could, potentially, really be made more powerful if its various leaders went fully modern and adopted a common set of digital standards, platforms, etc. For example, it doesn't really matter as much if there are a number of different and loosely tied offshoots of the Tea Party, for example, if they're all publicizing their events using the same XML feed.