Pure Democracy & the RoboDialer

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sun, Nov 24, 2013 @ 17:11 PM

Tags: technology innovation, technology implementing law, public policy, legaltech

The ultimate digital townhall has arrived, and with it, have we seen the flicker of opportunity for pure democracy?  A recent experience tells me the time has arrived for a bold politician to consider offering an experiment in such democracy.

A few evenings ago, my home phone rang.  When I answered, a robodialer asked if I'd like to join the Town Hall being conducted my my local Congresswoman, where her team was available to answer questions on the Affordable Care Act and the insurance process.  I pressed the assigned key and was dropped into a conversation in which other constituents were queing up, asking questions, and getting answers, all shared with everyone one the line. 

I want to be clear - I had not signed up or indicated interest in any way.  I have not yet been able to confirm, but it appeared that the robodialer called the home of every voter in the district and the call had no limit on participants.  Kudos to my Congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney, because her assembled team answered a myriad of diverse questions during a call that went on for a long time.

During the course of the call, one of the staffers would occasionally ask a survey question and ask the constituents to enter their vote through their phone keypad.  This is when my enthusiasm really picked up. 

When I first moved to New York City many years ago, before email and the web, I wondered if the sheer proximity of an entire constituency would make it possible to experiment with truly representative government, for an elected official to actually accumulate the opinion of the people on an issue and vote according to the majority. At the time, I envisioned ballots dropped in stacks at buildings, or delivered with the newspaper, or some equivalent.  The logistics of collecting the returns were achievable but labor intensive.

In the mechanics of this digital town hall call, were the mechanisms for achieving such an experiment. The robodialer combined with Q&A for difficult details and a phone survey would make it possible to get meaningful and representative constituent input.  And, this can be done asynchronously, so no need to get all constituents at the same moment.

When I speak about LegalTech innovation, this is the sort of thing I'm envisioning.  With all due respect to those who are offering enhanced document management applications for the legal profession, that's not what I'm seeking.  Technology offers the opportunity to implement the law as we know it in completely new ways, or to create wholly new legal paradigms.  Here is the opportunity for a bold politician to offer to represent his or her constituents in the most pure form of democracy.  Any takers? 




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Winners at Disrupt Law!! Spark-athon (InternetWeekNY)

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sat, May 25, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

Tags: software development, legaltech, entrepreneur

In the midst of torrential downpour and flash floods, more than fifty intrepid developers and lawyers turned out for Internet Week NY's Disrupt Law!! Spark-athon.  Soggy and enthusiastic, they networked for new legaltech in a great space provided by WeWork Labs in Soho. 

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Dreamhost prizes were won by Hector and Paul (below left) for their ideas and enthusiasm.  We're not going to spill the beans about those here - LawTechIntersect has promised to host a VC/Angel pitch night if four new ventures were sparked!  The crowd was pin-drop quiet for great talks by Tom Chernaik (CEO, CMP.LY), Steven Cherry (Journalist, @TechWisePodcast), and Matt Hall (Founder, Docracy).  Tom announced CMP.LY's exciting new Command Post product!  Steven taught us we better get working on our kaggle score.  And, we saw a real live Docracy-crush by a very happy user.   

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Thanks are due to volunteers Jennifer, Jared, Taier, Matthew, and Lesley, and for the help from Jonathan Askin.  Thanks, too, for support from the members of New York Tech Meetup, New York Legal Hackers, and nyhackers!

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Disrupt Law!! Spark-athon (InternetWeekNY) - UPDATE

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Thu, May 23, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

Tags: technology implementing law, technology for lawyers, Internet Week, legaltech, entrepreneur, startup, IWNY

The Disrupt Law!! Spark-athon is sold out!  I knew it would be exciting to put on an InternetWeekNY event.  We're bringing together Matt Hall (Founder, Docracy), Tom Chernaik (CEO, CMP.LY), and Steven Cherry (Journalist, @TechWisePodcast) to inspire 25 lawyers and 25 hackers brainstorming new legaltech projects and ventures. We added in a happy hour - the space and the beer donated by WeWork Labs in Soho - and prizes - Grand Prize donated by Dreamhost.


But, I had no idea how exciting it would be.  We've got a waiting list! We've received tremendous support from the New York  Legal Hackers and the nyhacker meetups. Jonathan Askin, a noted tech law professor, is going to participate.  Extra thanks to him for pitching in getting the word out and adding volunteers. And, Josh Kubicki, author of the TechCocktail blog I've been quoting, has come in from Cincinnati to participate!






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Disrupt Law!! Spark-athon (InternetWeekNY)

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Mon, May 06, 2013 @ 18:05 PM

Tags: technology implementing law, technology for lawyers, Internet Week, legaltech, entrepreneur, startup, IWNY

I'm a fan of InternetWeekNY - now 45,000+ New Yorkers mingling to teach, pitch, and network all manner of things web.  So, this year, I'm the proud sponsor of an event.  On Thursday, May 23, from 4pm to 6pm, I'll be hosting DISRUPT LAW!! SPARK-ATHON in Soho.  

The event will include speed-networking and collaborative brainstorming among 25 innovation-oriented lawyers and 25 venture-seeking hackers/developers.  The goal is to spark new legaltech ventures in disruptive legal technology.  For those not in the startup scene, that's "disruptive" as in "ground-breaking innovativion" NOT as in "breaking someone else's technology.'" 

Motivating descriptions of successful ventures will be provided by Matt Hall, co-founder of Docracy; Tom Chernaik, CEO of CMP.LY; and one more surprise.  Docracy was the winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon in 2011; it offers an open collection of legal contracts and a mechanism to negotiate and sign documents online.  CMP.LY provides a full and creative suite of tools for compliance and risk management for social media.  And, of course, there'll be a little something to eat and drink.

I haven't been this excited since I created the LinkedData Lab, which launched new careers and companies.  Can't wait to see what Disrupt Law!! brings!  

Click here to reserve your ticket

Follow this event on twitter - #DisruptLawIWNY

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