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Technology Overview

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 2 months ago

Technology Overview

The information that defines our society has reached an unmanageable level of complexity. Imagine searching today’s Internet with tools from the 1970’s: a professional could do it but anyone else would be lost. In the same way that Web browsers opened the Internet to everyone, the appropriate tools could give everyone the ability to understand, and contribute to, the government process.

 

These tools are outlined here. The first target for this toolset will be the US Federal Budget.

 

Data

The data we need exists in the public domain: The federal budget; lists of relevant committees and committee members; information about lobbyists and donations. To use this data we will import it out of its current, bulky, formats; break it into discrete pieces or “fragments”; and store these in our database. These information fragments provide the starting point and a framework for community-generated content, which can then be used to guide policy.

 

  • The database’s content and schema will be managed under version control, giving us the safety to change the database and to roll-back to previous versions as needed.

 

  • The database will be media aware, allowing users to embed audio, video, and other forms of documentation.

 

  • The schema, and a public API to access the database, will be documented and disseminated to encourage other organizations and developers to use our database as their platform.

 

  • All information in the database - the fragments, commentary, associations between entries, and user identities - can be tagged and rated along multiple dimensions by the community.

 

Identity

 

Like other online information systems, our tools will have a login interface and provide social networking features. Unlike other systems, our identities allow hierarchical associations, such as when a corporation recognizes a subset of individuals as representatives of its official voice.

 

  • You can aggregate your federation of identities from compatible social networks, providing a common login.

 

  • An identity can have multiple aliases, such as when a person is speaking for an organization versus with their personal opinion, as an expert in a field, or anonymously.

 

  • Aliases share in the reputation of the core identity, giving even anonymous commentary accountability and authority.

 

Reputation

 

Everything created with our toolset is linked to an identity. Users can tag and rate content, and this in turn reflects in the originating identity, creating a formal, numerical “reputation”. Your reputation is valuable; it reflects how people see you in the system, and it adds weight and context to the everything you create.

 

  • Accountability borne from a persistent reputation gives incentive to be thoughtful in your contributions.

 

  • Reputation rubs off; the reputation of the members of a group define the reputation of the group,

 

  • People will judge you by your reputation and the reputation of the friends you keep.

 

Display and Navigation

 

The database will initially have a simple user interface to import data fragments, display them, create links between fragments, and add commentary. This interface may be similar to a Wiki or other hyper-linked content system. Specialized graphical interfaces will then provide more intuitive access for different use cases.

 

  • Association viewer/editor will illustrate the web of associations around a fragment.

 

  • Comment manager will filter, rank, and organize comments into meaningful views.

 

  • Consensus interface will lock a fragment for closed-group access until voting indicates it is ready for public use.

 

  • Tagging and rating tools mark and filter content, commentary, associations, and users along multiple dimensions.

 

  • Searching and filtering tools highlight, hide, and group fragments along a wide range of attributes.

 

  • Revision viewers illustrate changes in content over time.

 

  • Search tools for internal fragments and relevant external databases will find and import information.

 

  • Calendar event-triggers coordinate group activities.

 

  • “Watch” tools and RSS feeds notify users when relevant content changes.

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