offers a step to networked democracy? offers a step to networked democracy?


Politicians, particularly Congressmen, tell me that the mass form-letter emails they get, from unknown parties, aren't useful.

What they want are emails from constituents, preferably not form letters, but that might be okay.

Well, looks like that might already be available at a newish site,

At, registered users can log on and find 1) up to the minute news stories and clips; 2) Forums where political discussions take place; and 3) a tool that allows you to call, email or write your elected officials with just one click. Senators and Congressman benefit too. You2Gov requires its users to provide their name, mailing address and zip code on communications to Congress so it can be verified that the writers are actually their constituents. Unless such proper user identification is provided, You2Gov will not allow the communications to be sent. Better yet, for those elected officials, they won't be receiving thousands of "form" letters. The You2Gov generated letters come from registered users that took the time to log on, research the issues, and write their own letter.

Note the need for authentication; this form doesn't prove the sender is a constituent, but moves pretty far in that direction.



Mark Murphy

I don't see where the quoted passage is on their site, and much of the site is locked down to only be visible to "members", so I can only comment on what I can see.
Comparing this to the principles I outlined in my Rebooting America essay (
1. Openness: FAIL. They prevent people from taking positions on issues until and unless they have provided identity information.
2. Public: FAIL. It does not appear there is a means for anyone to validate the positions site members are supposedly taking.
3. Standing: Close. They have the notion of constituent vs. not. The process of determining standing seems opaque. And, as noted in #1 above, they apply their standing filters before people express their opinions, not during the aggregation process.
4. Nyms: Not enough information, but I'm not hopeful.
5. Framing: Not enough information, though I am not hopeful.
6. Structure: Not enough information.
7. Unencumbered: Not enough information.
8. Unimpeded: Probably OK, in that this is a private initiative.
9. Self-Policing: Not enough information.
Beyond the strict principles, a commercial, ad-sponsored enterprise like this gives me the heebee-jeebees for the role it is attempting to fill. As a front-end to a larger system of raising issues and taking positions, I have no qualms.
I applaud their interest and enthusiasm, but that's about as far as I can take it, given all that I can see.

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