Archive for the ‘savvy developers’ tag
“We can draft anything, but will we go to the masses?” said Congressman Darrell Issa, creator of Congress’s little-known online crowdsourcing legislative platform, Project Madison. Today, at the open-government forum, the Personal Democracy Conference, Issa launched a foundation to expand the ability of citizens to suggest changes to all legislation, and to fund more experiments in digital participation. Issa, commonly known as the firebrand conservative critic of President Obama, is also the former chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association, and has used his engineering background to experiment with other digital tools, such as a interactive polling game and livestreams of otherwise secretive committee hearings.
“We intend to focus on problems where technology can strengthen democratic participation, while lowering the real barriers that exist between the citizens and their government,” reads the press release for the OpenGov Foundation.
The initial step will be to expand Madison. Originally launched at a joint Congress-Facebook hackathon to advance his alternative to SOPA, Madison received over 188,000 views. Make no mistake, Project Madison is not hollow pandering (like a previous Republican platform, America Speaking Out): suggestions actually make it into law.
And, boy are the legal suggestions offered on Project Madison wonky. One participant noticed that the wording in Issa’s alternative SOPA law could leave website registrants legally responsible for actions of the website administrator, “The improvement acknowledges that a website owner may not necessarily be the registrant. Steve’s suggestion ensures that notice could be served to either. Thank you, Steve,” states the website (for more suggestions that made it into the proposed law, click here).
The technology isn’t built yet, and Issa will be looking for savvy developers who know how to parse legislative text into a readable format, as well as build out user experience.
Perhaps most importantly, many of Issa’s experiments, including Madison, are aggressively transparent. The identity of every group or person who makes a suggestion is made public. This is, in part, to get around one of the original problems with SOPA, when congress convened a hearing with proponents outnumbering critics 5-1 (with one lonely Googler trying to save the Internet). “Ultimately, the people who don’t want to go on to our site and want to lobby behind the scenes, they will be diminished,” Issa said of Madison. “It increases the power of those who, in a transparent way, are willing to make input.”
Senator Ron Wyden, who joined Issa on stage, warned the audience of a “cyber industrial complex,” which can restrict the universe of knowledge around capitol hill and pass bills that are potentially harmful to a free Internet.
If developers or members of the public are interested in learning more and getting involved, visit opengovfoundation.org
Twilio launched “Twilio Client” for mobile today, giving mobile developers an easy way to introduce calling features into their iOS applications.
“There are a bunch of apps [that allow you to make calls] today” said Twilio’s director of product management Thomas Schiavone. “What Twilio is doing is letting people make a call as a feature of the app.”
What Sciavone is suggesting is that it’s so much work to build an app that lets you call out, that it might as well be its own app like Skype or Google Voice. But Twilio wants communications code to be accessible enough for any developer to use.
Twilio Client was originally introduced to Web developers in July. Using this version, a Web developer is able to integrate phone calls into web apps with just three lines of Java script. These phone calls were device agnostic and allowed for calling between browsers, traditional phones, and the mobile web. The iOS version acts very similarly, making it easy for developers to insert the objective-C (iOS) code into their application and let Twilio do the telecommunications heavy lifting.
When a user makes a call from the application, it is sent to Twilio, which deals with the carriers and delivers the call to its destination. It is meant to be incredibly easy, even for companies that don’t have telecommunications-savvy developers, but do want a calling feature.
“The key thing that we’ve seen from our experience in the past few years is once you let people who aren’t communications developers use communications in different ways, you get some really interesting use cases,” said Schiavone.
After its launch, the Web-focused Twilio client became popular with customer service and call center web apps. The iOS version has struck a cord with the same industry, inspiring RingDNA to create a call center application for “remote agents.” That is, the application ran on an iPad and became the person’s virtual desk. He could put on his headset, take calls, and get information all from the mobile device. Schiavone suggests gaming app developers should include it in mobile games to give them a more console-like feel.
Twilio plans to expand the offering to Android later in the year.
VentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.