Cause Caller: Get in Touch With Democracy!
The promise of a truly participatory democracy has never been clearer than digital media has made it today. The unique distributive nature of the Internet provides a platform that has the potential deliver on this promise by facilitating better group action at lower cost, thereby encouraging actual participation in democracy. There have been many meaningful developments in bringing better information and actions to citizens looking to use digital networks to serve their political needs, but many useful tools and databases remain proprietary and costly while others remain too general or ineffective for political action.
Cause Caller is a specific tool designed to address the needs of a distributed, participatory democracy. It is built upon fully extensible components including Semantic Media Wiki, Asterisk PBX and Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud. The goal of the project is two fold: one, to develop a useful application demonstrating a particular and unique use of Asterisk, and two, to nurture a repository of information about political representatives that is free, editable, and reusable.
After enduring a somewhat frustrating effort to reach members of a particular committee on the hill, and faced with creating a final project for my Redial class, I came upon the idea of a phone system that would automate much of the drudgery involved in phoning political representatives. After working on the project for a couple of weeks I realized I could turn this idea into a full blown thesis project that would be fun to develop into an open source political platform.