During the US Election, I remember reading a biographic article about David Plouffe, one of Barack Obama’s earliest and most influential supporters, about how he came to be running the future President’s campaign. It seems he started as a ‘bundler’. These are people who go around donations from dozens of people in their network, delivering a large chunk of cash to the candidate (campaign finance rules set a limit on how much any one individual can donate).
I thought of this word ‘bundling’ over the weekend, when I tried to persuade some friends to sign not one, but four live petitions:
- Sign the Petition for Libel Reform – Our libel laws urgently need an update, so we are free to discuss issues in the public interest, such as health, science, and the behaviour of multinationals.
- Sign the Petition to Scrap the Points-Based Visa System – Artists and academics are being turned away at our borders on frivolous grounds. We need a better system and the UK Border Agency must be more accountable.
- Sign the Petition Against the Digital Economy Bill – Draconian measures are being rammed through parliament. Your internet connection is at risk.
- Protect Gary McKinnon – A computer hacker may be deported to the USA to face charges of terrorism, after he exposed weaknesses in the Pentagon’s network security.
Much of the social media chat at the moment is about making it easier to engage with politicians on a particular issue. The standard model at the moment, as purveyed by Amnesty UK, the Libel Reform Campaign and 38 Degrees, is a short series of steps that prompts you to:
- Sign the petition
- Write to your MP
- Tweet and share on Facebook, &ct.
I wonder if there might be an alternative model, which would benefit projects like 38 Degrees, Power 2010 and MySociety which deal with many issues at once. An earlier step in the process would be a set of check-boxes, where you could pick the petitions you wanted to sign. Alternatively, other nudge tactics, or techniques used in online shopping, could be employed:
“Other people who signed the Libel Reform Petition also signed….”