Salsa Scoop Fee For Constituent Service
Fee For Constituent ServiceSubmitted Mon Nov 20 2006 14:39:05 GMT-0500 (EST)
As the coalition of vendors (including DIA) providing email-your-rep services to advocacy organizations continues to churn away at the Congressional email deliverability logjam, the changing times may be in the process of evolving the question -- at least on the national level -- towards obsolescence. The Center for Citizen Media got a post-election pitch to buy an updated legislative directory, and sensibly wonders ... why does this cost money? "[M]aybe someone could create a wiki to keep track of comings and goings"? Congresspedia has it covered. And a tool like Google's Google Earth/electoral district mashup basically covers the part of the equation that determines a legislator from an address. Adoption at the state level, where there are 12,000 legislators, or for reliable tracking of more recondite data such as Hill staff contacts and assignments, may very well remain the preserve of specialized data services that justifiably charge for the service. But for high-profile stuff like Congress and Governors? Blogs have national audiences arguing about which deputy attorney general should be challenging them in the 2010 primary. Their cover is already blown, and political mashups are too popular for this sort of thing not to be very much farther advanced by the next election cycle. Ironically, Congress' dogged adherence to choking off communications mediums is probably the best thing write-your-rep vendors have going for them. APIs to mash address lookup, write-your-rep and CRM tools are a natural evolution from nothing more than already-existing tools. If, in addition to that, Congress were actually to adopt some manner of transparent and consistent communications platform -- or an outside actor like Google force it on them by adding a FaxYourMP-like riff with an open API to its Google Earth creation -- the mass market in writing federal lawmakers could be radically democratized in very short order. That wouldn't obsolete vendors. But it would sure change a few conversations.