Allison Fine on the Connected Age
BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, October 10 2006
Allison Fine, friend of PDF and author of the recently published Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age, wrote a fantastic editorial in Sunday's Mercury News (you'll have to register for free to read it). She describes the Connected Age and how we can use social technology to create a new voting system based on the creation of personal voting profiles:
The new voting system could begin on or any time after your 18th birthday. At that time, you'd become eligible to vote by simply logging onto your state's voter Web site. Here, you would activate your voting status by using your Social Security number, inputting your permanent address and creating a personal identification number.
This information would be quickly verified by federal government databases, such as the Postal Service, motor vehicle offices, Internal Revenue Service or Medicaid offices, as negotiated by your state. This process assumes that everyone has signed up for Social Security at birth or when they are naturalized. Nearly all Americans now do so voluntarily. This will add one more incentive to do so early. And that's it. Your right to vote has been activated.
She writes about how to make this system accessible to everyone, and how to use technologies that already exist to get us more involved in the political process. One of my favorite proposals could be implemented by using RSS feeds:
You could set alerts and filters to bring you news articles on these officials, bills or issues you are passionate about, any time you want them.
Worried about privacy issues? Allison makes an important point:
whether we like it or not, whether we knew it was happening or approved of it, the fact is that our personal information is already being stored, cataloged, analyzed, shared and used by many government agencies. We would have to decide if democratic participation is as important a use for it as searching for terrorists.
It's a great piece brimming with optimism and ideas -- read it.