Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Direct Dial Democracy

Worried about a bill under consideration in Congress? Think twice before emailing your rep. As Garrett Graff noted recently, these abundant virtual missives tend to provoke only an auto-reply. In the real world where scarcity and effort influence value, real letters and telephone calls are holding their own. Enter Committee Caller. This automatic calling service dials all the congresspeople on a committee of your choosing, one right after the other without hanging you up. It was developed by Fred Benenson, a student in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University.

Committee Caller is a new project, so there's obvious room for improvement. I'd like the site to display the Congressional calendar, perhaps even link to C-SPAN in some capacity. A connection to the biographies and voting records of the Members of Congress would also be useful, maybe in connection with a wiki like Congresspedia. And perhaps version 2.0 can replace the robotic narrator with a celebrity voice-over. (If James Earl Jones is busy I nominate Monica Lewinsky.) Overall, though, Committee Caller seems like a necessary innovation for the motherland.

No comments: