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Data and Democracy: Building Tools For Citizen Engagement

Digital video camera

Credit: CITRIS

Developing tools to promote citizen engagement, specifically direct participation by citizens in the political process, is the goal of CITRIS' Data and Democracy Initiative (DDI).

One of DDI's efforts is the Rashomon Project, an open source media editing and compilation program designed to integrate several distinct sources of narrative into a single multilayered story, with a display screen showing multiple panels that can play footage side by side to facilitate a multi-perspective chronology of one event.

DDI director Camille Crittenden says Rashomon could be used to build footage taken at political demonstrations into a synchronized, holistic presentation. Measuring the personal financial effects of different political scenarios is the purpose of the DDI-supported online Politify tool, developed to address a perceived dearth of empiricism in the way U.S. voters choose candidates.

Politify's developers created software that lets voters feed in their own incomes and other personal data, and then crunches the numbers based on the candidate's platforms, generating the personal cost to voters that each platform, if enacted, would likely impose. "In the short term we want to support efforts to narrow the gap between eligible, registered, and active voters, especially among under-represented groups," Crittenden says.

From CITRIS Newsletter
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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