Tag Archives: voting

Can You Be Swayed?

Swayable may be a fairly new website, but its traffic is already growing by leaps and bounds. It’s quite addictive to sit and click a button, choosing the fate of one thing or person over another. Think the bunny is cuter than the horse? Sway it. Sure that Ballmer is better than Jobs? Sway him, too. There are hundreds of categories to choose from, along with a never-ending stream of new Sways to judge.

There’s some measure of perverse thrill sent through our brains each time we click that little voting button. Whether you’re being mean and picking the worst pics to “win” or being honest in your selections, site stats show that many users are becoming addicted to this site.

Swayable makes it easy to share things when you’re on the go. Take pictures of two different things with your iOS device (Android isn’t available – yet!), come up with a caption or question and click a button to send it all through SMS, email and the Swayable site.

This application isn’t just for fun, y’all. You can use it to quickly get opinions from friends and family prior to making a large purchase, renting a new home or even just choosing which outfit to wear out on the town. We tend to be our own worst critics, and that can make it tough to always make the right decision. Crowdsourcing answers is always one of the best ways to get things done, and Swayable makes that a snap. Life is all about choices, after all!

For the record – Wicket and Pixie are far cuter than any pooch I’ve seen on the Swayable site at this point. I don’t think I can pit them against each other though… they’re equally adorable. How can I ask someone to choose between them?!

Universal Electronic Ballot Sampling

You may have the right to vote, but you don’t have the ability to verify that your vote was counted. The entire process is needlessly cumbersome, which further impedes the average American’s willingness to cast their vote in the first place. There are solutions to be found in technology, but there’s one technology in particular that may provide a more complete electronic solution for us (certainly, far better than what’s in place now). Here’s something called Universal Ballot Sampling:

The UBS protocol is designed to restore voter confidence in the electoral system. It achieves this purpose by marshalling the power of very basic statistics and ensuring that humans participate only in ways in which their partisanship can have little or no impact on the verification decision. Thus, whatever specific parameters are ultimately chosen for the sampling protocol, the verification decision itself is dictated by a fixed, pre-selected standard rather than the discretionary opinion of election officials or political appointees, as provided for by such legislative proposals as HR 811, currently pending.

You should read more about HR 811… as well as the EFF’s analysis.

Hacking Democracy

I can’t remember why the TV tuner was dialed into HBO the other night, but we happened to catch an airing of Hacking Democracy. I’ve been so busy lately, that I’ve hardly had time for entertainment. This film wasn’t entertaining half as much as it was informative, however.

Electronic voting machines count about 87% of the votes cast in America today. But are they reliable? Are they safe from tampering? From a current congressional hearing to persistent media reports that suggest misuse of data and even outright fraud, concerns over the integrity of electronic voting are growing by the day. And if the voting process is not secure, neither is America’s democracy. The timely, cautionary documentary HACKING DEMOCRACY exposes gaping holes in the security of America’s electronic voting system.

Shouldn’t we be basing every one of these electronic voting systems on open source software and platforms? Wouldn’t that be our best defense against tampering? Otherwise, we’re placing our complete trust in a potentially untrustworthy organization. If there’s a time and place for the “wisdom of crowds,” this is it.

To Vote or Not to Vote

If I have the right to vote, then I also have the right to tell politicians how they can earn my vote. I’m politically independent, and will remain that way until the day I die. What do I ask for? Nothing unreasonable.

  1. No negative campaigning, ever. I don’t mind a healthy debate, but when it comes to mudslinging – there’s no easier way for you to earn my non-vote. You’re trying to prove that you’re more trustworthy than your competitor by illustrating how your competitor is less trustworthy. Are you REALLY THAT STUPID (or is the population of my country RELALY THAT STUPID to reinforce this kind of behavior)?!
  2. Avoid hardline affiliation. So, you’re running on the Democratic ticket? You don’t have to remind me of that every time you open your mouth. Ultimately, it’s what you do in office and with your peers that matters. For whatever it’s worth, today’s conservatives make Barry Goldwater look like a liberal – and even Goldwater (himself) predicted that would eventually happen.
  3. Share your true passions. The “issues” are going to change over time, so don’t try to win me over by guessing what I want to hear. Tell me what you think, and I’ll decide whether or not I like the way you tell me. I don’t want to see what you’re doing on the campaign trail – what were you doing before you hit the campaign trail? Stand by your own convictions, not the convictions someone tells you to stand by.
  4. Stay out of my personal life. Do you pay my bills? Do you decide how I should spend my hard-earned money? Do you tell me which non-profit organizations I should support? Do you live with me? Do you drive across town to get me a Peet’s every morning? Then please, don’t try to make other personal decisions for me.
  5. Consider a new public relations team. I can’t think of anybody more out of touch with reality than someone in “PR” (seriously). If you need good advice, listen to your parents and/or your closest friends. If you want help getting the word out or lining up engagements, just ask the blogosphere. “We” really believe in you – even though we’re not on your payroll.

I’m not throwing my vote away – the system is. These are just personal pet peeves, not necessarily political ones. Hey, this *IS* a personal blog!