Thursday, September 18, 2014

Can We Simplify Politics? Simpolfy Thinks They Can

A family member runs a business incubator - called Fledge - for socially-conscious startups.  They have a new group that started a week or so ago.  The website tells it succinctly:
Fledge helps impactful entrepreneurs take their ideas and prototype-stage companies into reality, via an intense, 10-week program of guidance, education, and mentorship, plus a large and growing network of support from past fledglings and hundreds of mentors.
Fledge receives applications from around the world, inviting just 6-7 to participate.  Each team is paid for the privilege, in exchange for an investment in a unique revenue-based model, where you ultimately keep the ownership of your startup.
Our goal is to help foster a wave of companies that make not just a measurable impact in the world, but a noticeable improvement in the lives of everyone on the planet.
So I was looking at the list of new Fledglings and one jumped out for me - mainly because it's a topic I know a little about.  It's called Simpolfy and the aim is set up a website:
"that simplifies politics so you can hold your representatives accountable to you!"
Their particular goal is a) to simplify complicated legislation and b) communicate to users about bills of interest to them.   You can get more details directly from Simpolfy's Indiegogo page where I got the video below.

This is a great concept.  There's simply way too much data out in the world for people to keep track of what's going on.  But simplifying legislation is also difficult.  I tried to do that when I blogged the legislature.  If you hang out at the committee meetings and read the bills carefully, you can get a good idea of what's in the bills.  But really good bill writers know how to word things, using references to other legislation, or specifying parameters so that even clever folks can't figure out that the intent is to favor a particular company or to make it impossible to, say, get an abortion.

This also raises questions for me about what they do with the information they collect from users.  It would seem of great interest to politicians and their handlers.  But these things can be worked out and I'm sure that's what they are busy doing now.  The bigger goal - turning data into useful information - is a worthy one, something that other websites - such as those that parse political ads to determine if they are truthful - have been successfully doing. 

At the end of the ten week period the Fledglings present their companies at Demo Day.  If you're in Seattle October 23 you can go see the presentations, but get your tickets early.  I was able to attend one of these and it was an exciting evening of possibilities.

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