Civic Tech: Why technology has disrupted nearly everything except government, and how we can fix it.





The purpose of this talk(rant) is to discuss how antiquated our political system is in the 21st century, why attempts to disrupt politics with technology have failed, and how technology can be the great disruptor we’ve all been waiting.


In the beginning, participants will take a political engagement survey, meant to demonstrate the major problem with our politics-- people aren't engaged enough to foster accountability and create change. I will discuss how so many political practices, whether it's voting on a Tuesday, or why telephone polling is still the predominant mechanism to discern public opinion. Next I will discuss why so many solutions offered by civic tech companies have fallen short. Following this, I will explain by Votus, Inc. think they have developed the solution


After setting the context of how obsolete our mechanisms  political engagement are, I will discuss short companies social media and some civic tech companies. First, I will discuss social media; many believe that facebook, and twitter would be the great political disruptor. However, social dynamics are distinct from political dynamics-- so social media is an inappropriate platform for effective engagement. If anything, social media creates echo chambers, and inundates users with too much content to stay meaningful engaged.  

Next I will give an overview of different civic tech companies, their proffered solutions to civic engagement and why they haven’t been successful. The biggest pitfall has been their focus on national issues-- making them dependent on mass adoption before they can get the attention of national level politicians. Others have platforms that are too confusing or complex to inform and engage other citizens.

The talk will conclude with me offering what I believe to be the solution to our civic engagement woes-- Votus, Inc. Here, I will explain all of our assumptions in developing our product and all the lessons we have learned through three different iterations of civic tech product. I will share things I’ve heard from not only citizens, activists, and elected representatives, but even billionaire investors regarding civic tech. Lastly, I will reveal the results of our civic engagement quiz-- highlighting that what is needed is not just technology, but technology that creates a culture change around civic engagement. We need to look at engagement as we view fitness or our finances-- a necessary and constant part of our everyday lives.

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Time Slot: 
09:45 AM


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