Monday, June 14, 2004


Central Action Register

During the pie wars at Dkos I became concerned that if significant numbers of Kos members left Kos, it would dilute the ability of the Kos community to produce immediate mass responses to calls for action. This was probably an overreaction. However, since then I have observed a fragmented response to the attacks on Howard Dean as illustrated by the following:

Dean speaks for me petition
Atrios’ Dean fundraiser
and then I guess there is some donate to the DNC on the 15th of June proposal for which I do not have a link.

Each of these is a good idea, but they are diluted by not being implemented in concert. What if each and every one of these efforts was coordinated into a single action item?

Or think about this: Susan Hu comes up with another million pages of FOIA documents that she needs volunteers to read. Kos and Booman contributors learn about it from her posts, but readers of Atrios don’t. Readers of AmericaBlog don’t. Readers of TPMCafe don’t. But if there were a Central Action Register where Susan could post her needs and it is then disseminated throughout the liberal blogosphere as an action item, think of the response she would get.

Yes, I know, there are many obstacles and hurdles to making this a practical, effective idea. But none are insurmountable.

Here is what I envision:
A blogad size space with scrolling text links listing the daily action register list. To take action, you click on the link and it takes you to the relevant action page/diary/blog. That’s it.

A very rough idea of how this might work:
Amy Activist learns that two muslim teenage girls are being held in a detention center for alleged terrorism based on the fact that they have dark skin, talk funny and don’t watch either American Idol or Survivor. Amy wants people to write to Senator Sniveling Moron (R), Corporate Monopoly State, to demand an investigation into why the girls are being held.

Amy writes a brief description of what she wants done which includes:
  • Brief description of the situation and the proposed action.
  • Links to news stories to verify the facts of the case
  • Links to any relevant activist organizations involved
  • Contact information for Senator Sniveling Moron
  • Contact information for herself (which will not be made public)

    Amy emails all of this to the proposed Central Action Register (CAR) where a volunteer:
  • Checks to make sure the facts of the proposed action can be confirmed. If they cannot be confirmed, the proposed action dies there.
  • Makes sure relevant links work
  • Makes a personal judgement call as to whether this is an appropriate Action for the Central Action Register (CAR)
  • Lists it on the CAR
  • From the CAR as an RSS feed or something similar, this Action Item is sent
  • On liberal blogs all over the blogosphere this item is added to a small scrolling tickertape of daily action items.

  • Advantages to this idea:

    1.If this idea works as planned, what might have been a rapidly vanishing diary on Kos becomes part of an all day display on multiple liberal blogs; hopefully on literally hundreds of liberal blogs.

    2.In situations like the Dean one above, all groups involved could be put in touch with each other to coordinate, they can then make a single web page that unites all of the actions they want to take.

    3.Actions could be coordinated and timed for maximum impact; for example on one particular day at one particular time, thousands of people who visit all kinds of different progressive blogs could email Joe Lieberman and ask him to please, for once, consider acting like a Democrat?

    Possible Problems:

    1.Some issues don’t get posted for whatever reason. Possible solution: Diaries can still be posted to Kos or Booman or TPM Café.

    2.Wingnut infiltrators get fake action items posed. Possible solution: all proposed actions must be accompanied by corroborating evidence/documentation and volunteers must check them out before posting.

    3.Ongoing action items crowding up the ticker. Possible Solution: Ongoing items get a once a week mention on the ticker and the home page for action items has a list on ongoing campaigns.

    4.Overcrowded ticker of action items. Possible Solution: Limit of five action items per day? Limit action items to national issues excluding regional issues?

    5.How do people know where to submit items? Possible Solution: link on ticker to take you to Central Action Registry where you fill out a form with your info and submit. Rely on volunteers to post in comments where to submit action items. Have Blogowners frontpage this when the CAR becomes active, for that one day.

    6.Blogs will lose their ability to start an action unique to their blog. Possible Solution: no they won’t, Atrios can still do a separate fundraiser for Dean without submitting it to CAR.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    1.Getting bloggers (Kos, Booman, Atrios, MyDD, TPM Café and many, many more) to donate space for this on their websites.

    2.Arranging for reliable volunteers to screen possible action items

    3.What standards should be used to determine if an action item warrants being mentioned?

    Things Not To Be Done By A Central Action Registry (CAR):

    1.Not call for action in support of a single candidate; it might urge people to vote for Democrats in general but not John Kerry specifically.

    2.Not to advocate on behalf of an individual; can advocate on behalf of an office i.e. CAR would not advocate action in support of Howard Dean; CAR may advocate action in support of the DNC Chair.

    Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. Everything written here is in very rough draft form and subject to change. I would appreciate suggestions and input on this as well as a poll response.