Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Ever since the NSA business leaked, I've been thinking about this problem. It took me a few months to wrap my head around all the crazy stuff that's been going on but I've started building some systems that I think might have a chance of helping out.

"Call Congress Now"- using Twilio, you can call Congress folk from your browser (for free). http://www.callcongressnow.org/

Here are some Congress people who are doing some shady stuff: http://www.callcongressnow.org/profile/F000062 http://www.callcongressnow.org/profile/L000174

But it's pretty hard to get the word out about websites like that. In a sense, nobody passively cares enough to call Congress. Only when the Congress folks do something that brings about outrage do people care enough to really pick up the phone (or click the twilio button, as it were). So I built the /u/CongressionalHound, a bot on reddit that hunts for mentions of current sitting members of Congress in submitted articles and displays information about them in the comments: http://www.reddit.com/user/CongressionalHound/comments/

If you are a mod on reddit and want me to run the bot on your subreddit, PM the bot and I'll have it saunter on over and get to work. Slowly putting the bot on subreddits that give me permission or invite me to. My hope is that when articles about the NSA, or Obamacare, or the shutdown, or or or any big political issue comes up, that the bot will channel people towards getting in touch with their representatives and senators and effectively voicing their opinions.

Both of these are prototypes and there are major known bugs in both, but I think they can serve as examples of systems that could help citizens better impact their government through the power of the internet.

Maybe we need to take the shawshank redemption approach "Still, I'd like to try, with your permission. I'll send a letter a week. They can't ignore me forever."

Let's build automated tools allowing people to send out letters, signed petitions, emails, faxes, pre-recorded voicemail etc.

That would would potentially eliminate procrastination.

Just a thought.

A friend worked at a congress person's office a while back. When I told her about automating calls, she was not pleased. Very high noise to signal ratio. I think that effort would be better invested in informing the public and giving them better tools than mindlessly spamming their offices.


This is an excellent idea, thanks for making this.

Along with calling, it might be helpful to have a wiki that outlined the issues and talking points. People often care, but then feel like they don't have enough depth of knowledge to take action.

At very least it would be nice to point to one.

It's the fact that people aren't pleased that helps cause change. Things don't change unless there's something uncomfortable happening that someone wants to stop.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact