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Organizing Around Unemployment Online

July 21, 2010 - by Hilary Worden

Here is an interesting piece by Micah Sifry on TechPresident: “How the Internet Organizes the Unemployed”.

The article prominently mentions OpenCongress and the organic community of concerned citizens that has emerged around the unemployment extensions bill and the Benefit Wiki project.

He discusses the massive amount of traffic and comments that the unemployment bill pages have seen:

On OpenCongress, the top three most commented bills on the site are all about extending unemployment benefits—with more than 130,000 comments in all… Right now, in the last month, OpenCongress’s David Moore tells me that the current extension bill has gotten nearly 200,000 unique visits, a big chunk of the site’s overall traffic…

In other words, the comment boards on the OpenCongress and WashingtonWatch unemployment bills pages have become, de facto, organizing networks and self-help communities for unemployed people.

… which you can see for yourself here on our one-of-a-kind Battle Royale forum of what’s hot with our users.

Later, Micah suggests it could be done even better in the future:

The lesson of what seems to be happening organically around sites like OpenCongress and WashingtonWatch is that even without conscious planning, hubs of likeminded individuals will find each other online and coalesce, albeit poorly and with little strong coordination, in ways that help each other get what they need. Now, imagine if we listened carefully to these signals, invented some better tools for group collaboration, set them up to do well in organic search, and then got out of the way.

You can read the full piece here. Thanks Micah, for the insightful article and the attention you’re paying to this important but under-acknowledged issue. (You can follow him on Twitter :: @mlsif , and subscribe to the Tech President blog’s RSS feed by clicking here.)


On the unemployment bill, H.R. 4213, here are some resources on OC to keep you up-to-date ::

… let us know your questions :: writeus at opencongress d0t org. Thanks.

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