Articles From October 2010
Fixing 'broken political communication' on eDemocracyBlog
Josh: “How many iterations do we have to DO Janice?!”
Yesterday we removed the password for the site and entered the POPVOX public beta. We did so quietly, knowing there are bugs and dead-ends aplenty, working now with the feedback we are getting to tweak and improve the site. We are “iterating” in start-up speak, and we welcome your feedback.
You hear the word agile a lot in Silicon Valley. It refers to a process by which you release a product early, get feedback, and then incorporate that feedback into a next version that you release early and often . The idea is that you don’t spend a lot of time and resources based on early assumptions to create a fully built-out product, because those early assumptions might not be right. Instead of finding that out in six months or a year, you try to cut that time down to six weeks, six days or even six hours; make the changes, improve the product and start the process all over again.
What you see now is a very slimmed-down version of what is to come with POPVOX -- and what is to come with POPVOX will be greatly influenced by you. Please use the “Feedback” tab on the left of each screen any time you hit a snag, think of something you want but don’t see or would just like to share your thoughts. We will not only read and distribute your input among our team, we will use it to help us determine the development of the site as it changes daily.
We at POPVOX were privileged to learn our agile/Agile processes from one of the best, as inaugural participants in the Lean User Experience residency (LUXr), founded by Janice Fraser . For three months, we worked every Friday alongside fantastic colleagues in Diaspora and BillFloat , with me in person in the LUXr San Francisco office, and the rest of the team in video conference from DC and Tennessee on my laptop via ooVoo . We drew cartoons, covered walls with post-it notes of ideas, heard terrific guest lecturers and most of all, benefitted from the ability to come to Janice whenever we got stuck. Inevitably, she would have us all back to the sketches, the cartoons and the post-its. LUXr ended last Friday but these “lean” “agile” user-focused principles are now embedded in the POPVOX culture. As Janice taught us, we will never be “done.”
We look forward to iterating with you and to making POPVOX the best and most effective tool to ensure your opinion is counted when decisions are made.
Balloons, flags and an acapella choir greeted World War II veterans arriving this morning from Knoxville, Tennessee at DCA’s Gate 38. The entire terminal cheered and clapped; many wiped away tears. I’m sure I was not the only one remembering grandfathers and uncles who served but never got a chance to see the beautiful memorial on the National Mall.
On my first weekend in Washington - a few years ago - I walked down to the Mall to wander by the reflecting pool and the monuments. I listened to parents answer children's questions in front of the Vietnam Wall, took in the view to the Capitol dome from the top of the steps in front of Mr. Lincoln and walked in the haunting silence of the Korean War memorial.
Today I remembered those first impressions and thought about the reasons people “come to Washington” (which is a very different experience than living in Washington or a business trip.) Whether a high school trip, a family vacation, a civic organization’s fly-in or a bus ride for a cause, they come to celebrate, to protest, to remember, to learn. When I worked as a staffer on Capitol Hill, constituent visits helped bring back the gravitas and appreciation of my first days in the city.
You will find that the POPVOX team talks a lot about the problems of Washington. After all, this site would not exist if we didn’t all think there are pretty significant problems to be solved. Today, those veterans, and the people in the terminal cheering them, reminded me that POPVOX is also inspired by what is still very right about Washington, and America.
Despite hard economic times, or gridlock, public disillusionment, or partisan rancor, people still come to Washington to make their voices heard. For the thousands each year that walk the marble halls of Congress or grassy expanse of the National Mall, there are additional millions that send letters, make calls, join organizations, sign petitions.
We at POPVOX think this vibrant national energy deserves a tool that helps those voices be heard. We are building this site for everyone who cares enough about the direction of this country to weigh in, and the countless others who might do so if they felt their actions had an impact. We are working every day to make sure that POPVOX delivers impact -- by getting the message the public provides into the format Congress needs to receive. Stay tuned...
(For media inquiries, please contact Marci Harris, POPVOX’s CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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