I haven’t had time to look into this carefully, but thought it worth mentioning the following, given that I had written a few enthusiastic diaries about votizen.com.
I got an email from votizen.com, just now:
With that, we are thrilled to announce that we are moving even closer to achieving our mission by joining forces with Causes.com — the undisputed leader in effective online civic engagement. By joining with Causes and its nearly 200 million members, Votizen now has the ability to effectively reach every voter in America and will greatly increase our ability to surface the latent political influence that exists in our personal relationships. We have made one great jump towards achieving our goal of a more vibrant, effective democracy and we couldn’t be more excited for the future. (Read the announcement in TechCrunch.)
I have described votizen.com as a proto-voting bloc type of technology. They had acquired party registrations for all US voters that were registered, and made use of social networking tools like facebook and linkedin.
I first noticed something seemed wrong because Jason Putorti, a head guy there, stopped responding to my emails. Plus, they showed no interest in implementing my modern day ostracism idea, even though their acquisition of voting registrations made this idea easy to implement. (Getting registration information is/was definitely the hardest part of pulling off my ostracism idea.) Of course, I’m going to be prejudiced in favor of my idea; however, if there’s much to be gained by relatively passive opinion sharing, rather than credible electoral threats, well, you certainly haven’t convinced me of that.
I also noticed that, during the last election cycle, they stopped sharing information about candidate network size. I know they did that because I was recording changes in a spreadsheet, for a while. Why on earth would you remove feedback? Especially, if it was positive feedback for 3rd party candidates, which we need more of, IMO. (Also, BTW, Rocky Anderson’s totals were making weekly gains, while Jill Stein’s stood still. That sort of info is useful to laggards – like the Stein campaign – because it can motivate them to do better. As I recall, though, Stein did better in the final vote gathering, though her total was not impressive.)
Causes.com looks to me (after a quick look; I never heard of them, before) like a mostly standard ‘clictivism’ web site. Well, besides petitions and crowdfunding, they do have a ‘pledges’ facility, which does, seemingly, offer a pathway for citizens pledging to throw a Congress critter under the bus, unless they get some sort of satisfaction from them. (In this vein, given the government is so corrupted by the 2 major parties and $$, I have recently posted Twisting Your Congress Critters’ Arm – A Goldilocks’-Sized First Step In Domination by the Electorate (Short Version))
I NOTE THAT ORGANIZING AN ELECTORALLY AGGRESSIVE PLEDGE DRIVE, VIA CAUSES.COM, MIGHT BE AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO SMOKE OUT IF THEY ARE A VEAL PEN ORGANIZATION, OR NOT. If they forbid or suppress such pledge drives, then they’re not really working for John Q. Public.
If you read the techcrunch article (please do), you see that they are looking for synergy with what votizen.com brings to them. All well and good if they execute, but that implies (says me) that they enable voter aggressiveness. That means that they facilitate voters throwing elected, corrupted deadwood incumbents under the bus.
If they merely serve as a means for letting Congress critters know which signers of a petition (and let’s be honest, here; signing an online petition is a no-cost activity, for the citizenry, which is likely to be ignored by a Congress critter), or which participants in a causes.com campaign, are from their district, or state, then the value proposition, for a demoralized citizenry, is meager, indeed.
I’m somewhat skeptical that this merger will change things much, contrary to what the techcrunch article says is being sought, but I welcome causes.com/votizen.com to surprise me.