POPVOX and Advocacy Tactics
In a blog post about advocacy tactics for individuals, Clay Johnson wrote that POPVOX is not tactical enough. I wanted to take a quick moment to respond in particular to:
"Organizations like PopVox and Votizen . . . don't . . . go far enough for two reasons. The first is tactical: people are already communicating with members of Congress using the tools they want to communicate with: Facebook, Twitter, the Email, and the Telephone. . . . If Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ allowed for people to associate their various legislative districts to their profile, and defaulted to making that public, that'd go a long way."
We've long been working on how to use existing social media tools better in advocacy, and if we haven't gone far enough then it's because farther is not yet practical. We have already begun to offer Congressional staff the ability to see more information about the individuals posting on their official Facebook Pages, and we have talked with a number of staffers about it, but Congressional offices so far are just not particularly interested in using their social media accounts in new ways. Until they get their traditional constituent correspondence system into a better shape, which by the way already gives them a wealth of information about what their constituents are saying, I don't know if they really stand much to gain from tapping a whole new medium. For more on our work here, see our Analysis of Who's Posting on Congressional Facebook Pages.
I also want to respond to:
"The second is personal and ideological: having a single for-profit business be the gateway between people and Congress seems like a heap-of-trouble in the long term -- though I have to say I really love the team at Popvox and would probably trust them."
I appreciate the love, but I think ideological fears are not very useful. The non-profit model has its place, but I've found that nonprofits have agendas just like everyone else. And not to mention, all of the major social media channels that Clay is advocacting we use are for-profit, and I've personally been doing open government work under a for-profit model for seven years and I've never been told that that was not good enough!
Anyway, I have a lot of respect for Clay --- I've pre-ordered his book --- so I am glad we are able to debate how to make advocacy better.