After writing the Sunlight Foundation to learn if they were going to expand Scout into local markets, Eric Mill responded with an email that began with ‘I love getting letters like these’. I love getting responses like that, and that little spark evolved into a five-year odyssey – which truthfully has been both frustrating yet intoxicating.
The Black Lives Matter movement, Dakota-area Anti-#DAPL protest, prisoner strikes, leaded-water quality issues, and the extremely complex personal relationships and major-policy positions of our leading political candidates, all point to the need for doubling-down on the strategic direction of the open-government and civic tech movement.
The fact is however that we are a bunch of passionate citizens, using traditional business models while expecting to influence and shift highly sophisticated, multi-trillion dollar budgeted institutions and corporations that involve highly complex relationships… oftentimes including the very sources we look to for support.
I believe we need to take a much more radical approach to civic tech that focuses on Lincoln’s vision of “Government of the People, by the People, for the People” which has been temporarily replaced by today’s “Government for the Corporations, by the Attorneys, and through the Politicians.”
If we expect to grow the civic tech movement with relatively faint strategic efforts and resources we are sorely mistaken. I hope we all look at this moment as a baton being handed off, not dropped. Given the position the US has globally, if we’re true to our mission of improved civic engagement and accountability, we could literally affect every person on this planet. We can do so much better.