Fork the Government! (On GitHub, Of Course)

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Open software development is a good design to follow for new efforts at broadening participation in democracy. Following on from directives for Open Data, Open Process should be a near term goal of transparency advocates.

Version control, merging documents together – yeah, we know how to do this on a massive scale. We also now how to bubble up changes and requests through multiple layers of acceptance testing and nightly builds before they join the main branch.

Ms Congresswoman, you’ve got a bill you want to propose? Start a GitHub project with the text. Sure, usual suspects, the ecosystem of Beltway lobbyists and law firms will sign up to follow it. Yes, you’ll get pull requests from industry pressure groups that gut the bill, or change it past recognition.

So what? At least that is now all part of the public record. But you will also get your home district voters, bloggers, think tanks, legislators in other countries, and your fellow Members, following, commenting, suggesting, and building with you in an open process.

Start forking bills, and eventually we can get the Executive Branch to fork the budget. Now, _that_ will be something to see.

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