Salsa Scoop> Introducing Our First Guest Blogger!

Introducing Our First Guest Blogger!

Single Frequently Asked Question: Why doesn’t my head doesn’t explode when dealing with intricate and developing technologies all day long in pursuit of democracy?


Jon Stewart is not available for guest blogging this month so you get me. Fortunate for you, I’m a lot like Jon Stewart, funny, attractive, intelligent. Don’t believe me? Just ask my mother. Wait, don’t ask her, she thinks Bill O’Reilly is dreamy.

Unlike Jon Stewart, however, I don’t wear expensive ties and I’m not going to leave all the heavy lifting to a cast of talented ready for prime time players. No, you get what you paid for today. Rather than cutting away to Samantha Bee, stick with me and we’ll explore the number one reason why my head doesn’t explode when dealing with intricate and developing technologies in pursuit of democracy.

Wait, let's start with the number 3 reason my head doesn’t explode when dealing with intricate and developing technologies in pursuit of democracy, massage therapy. I highly recommend it and my massage therapist is adept at working out the pent up energy that could cause a head to explode. The number 2 reason is curiosity. This American experiment is fascinating. I want to see where it goes. Which leads to the number 1 reason my head doesn’t explode when dealing with intricate and developing technologies in pursuit of democracy: I keep my eyes on the prize -- democracy.

Dark wood offices and details kept me employed in the last century -- I got my pay check from law firms. Nothing went out of these law firms that had to be “corrected.” In those days, bugs were insects.

As the new millennium dawned I walked into a bright, airy and industrial setting – American Online at Dulles. At my first training I learned that one of the proprietary softwares had “bugs” that had been part of the first release and had not been fixed in the 123 releases since then. That software was publishing to AOL’s 25 million paying members and not a one of them knew a thing about the bug.

Law firm training notwithstanding, I picked up very quickly that a bug was not something to stop the push of online technology. As a friend of mine says, “Always go forward, never go back.” (he especially says that when I want to revisit certain scenes in a Time To Kill when Matthew McConaughey was preparing for his destiny as People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2005). My job was to keep my eyes on the prize -- that was making sure the AOL members were happy -- not to monitor bugs in the software.

Those software bugs had no effect on the subscribers and I loved keeping AOL members happy and learning about online media – for about three years. A giant layoff, the kind you read about in the papers, flowed down on Dulles. I grabbed a life preserver thrown to me by one of their partners and found myself serving 300 customers in pursuit of democracy with an online software that has some of the features of Democracy in Action.

Keeping over 300 advocacy, corporate, association, government customers happy was challenging and their devotion to getting their membership, employees, supporters engaged in democracy was inspiring. There, memories of life at the law grew more distant. What was persistent was the reminder, keep your eyes on the prize – democracy -- and not on the bugs. One strategy I used was to pull up their counter for the total number of e-mails sent to elected reps across all customers. Regardless of what bug was surfacing, I had only to look at the growing tally to help keep my focus – people, at that any instant, day or night, were making democracy work by writing to their elected officals.

This year I came to Public Citizen and got to learn a new software – Democracy in Action. Every day I’m enthused by the opportunity to serve our supporters and give them effective ways to participate in democracy. DiA’s robust service provides easy to use tools and every now and again I get to witness a bug. But they don’t make my head explode, even if I am trying to mail 64,000 people. I keep my eyes on the prize – democracy. Hey look a that, just now, somebody sent a letter to their Member of Congress demanding hearings on why went to war. Democracy in action. I love it so.

* Our first participant in the guest blogging series is Royelen Lee Boykie of Public Citizen.


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