How To Build an App to Call/Write Congress
Joshua Tauberer

My half-formed first response to this article is that… it’s still half-formed. Because it doesn’t answer a couple of questions — and I suspect these questions are raised within the article itself.

I’m winging it here, replying ad lib immediately after reading, rather than taking a considered look and composing a more grounded reply. Bluntly, I’m reading the article with one question, and finding others raised within, then not seeing answers.

Ostensibly, given the title, this story is about app-building. But within a paragraph or three you’re actually focusing on making effective contact with a representative. So I spend the rest of the article looking for advice about effectiveness. What is it? What do our reps look for? What is my aim in contacting them? Do my aims and their aims coincide?

Sure, you write about this in the context of the various automated forms of contact. But you undermine that approach somewhat by saying that phone calls are the effective approach; more or less dismissing email and letters. (You didn’t mention pizza. Is pizza an effective tool?)

I raise these points in order to ask the original question, albeit rephrased: why would I want an app that’s not effective? According to Ellsworth, the effective thing is to build a good ground game, by liaising with local staff. So far as I can tell, there’s no app for that.

I’ll close on this point: your article sure is informative, and contains much wisdom for others to consider. But where’s the magic bullet? Where do you bridge the distance between having a nifty app and making a difference to a politician’s behaviour?

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