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The Internet is Getting Together to #SlowClapForCongress

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, August 2 2011

Like a lot of people on Sunday afternoon, Baltimore-based software developer Chris Ashworth was frustrated with the way Congress had handled the important but often routine business of raising the nation's borrowing limit.

"When the debt deal goes through," he mused on Twitter to what he describes as a fairly modest following, "can we start a meme where we all make videos of ourselves slowly & sarcastically applauding our politicians?"

That was the beginning of Slow Clap for Congress, what is at present a very basic website hosting Ashworth and a handful of other folks doing — well, you get the idea.

The gag meandered across Twitter until it landed on our doorstep here on techPresident. To say it is a viral success already would be an exaggeration, but it might get there; Ashworth says the website received about 3,000 unique visitors yesterday, and there are about 17 videos so far. Ashworth built the site by hand; the submission mechanism is a link that just populates an email to an @slowclapforcongress.com address for people to send along links to their videos. (In another tweet, Ashworth admits his HTML skills "are not leet.")

But there's something to be said for 17 people all getting together and putting their faces on the Internet in video form to protest Congress behaving in a way they don't like; it's a higher barrier to entry than using a hashtag or signing an Internet petition, and harder for people on Capitol Hill to ignore as a result.

This is also worth pointing out because Ashworth says he isn't a particularly political person, and this is his first experiment using online content to make his own political point.

"I think everybody's responding to the fact that politicians are generally just behaving immaturely," Ashworth told me today by phone, "and that's just frustrating when there are so many things that we can have disagreements about that we can have in a mature way."

This is an expanded and updated version of a previous post; both the title and the text have been rewritten.

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