TechPresident‘s Alex Howard caught up with Brigade President James Windon on the sidelines of the #FusionRiseUp conference in Washington, DC last week for a lengthy, free-flowing discussion about what we’re building and where we’re headed as 2015 nears. In the interview, James explains why he thinks there’s ample opportunity — and a demonstrated need for — for a civically oriented social network. Click here to read TechPresident’s edited transcript of the interview.
Earlier this summer, we launched Brigade’s Engineering Blog with technical and non-technical content from our world-class team. Here’s a recap of their most recent posts, which we hope will inform and educate the broader engineering community.
DRY up your Jasmine specs with a subject
Have you ever been frustrated by how repetitive your Jasmine specs become? Use this RSpec-inspired pattern to DRY them up
Sharpen your Vim with snippets
Save time and effort, and maximize your effectiveness with some simple snippets
Living in the future
Save time and stay in flow by differentiating environments with different favicons
Crap! Wrong mode
A beginner’s beginner’s guide to Vim
Brigade’s experience using an MVC alternative
VIPER architecture for iOS applications
You can read more Engineering Blog posts here. Want to get in on the action? We’re hiring!
Director of Engineering, Applications
Software Engineer, Android
Software Engineer, Data
Software Engineer, iOS
Software Engineer, Messaging
Software Engineer, Ruby
Software Engineer, Web
Earlier this week, Brigade paired up with the TV and digital news network Fusion for a panel discussion about how technology is impacting the distribution and exercise of power. The conversation, moderated by Fusion Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Alexis Madrigal, was part of Fusion RiseUp, a day-long event in Washington, D.C. that brought together global activists, artists and politicians to talk about how millennials are leading efforts to make change in their communities and around the world.
During the session, James talked about our goal to “bring citizens together around shared values and then enable them to act collectively to interface with existing structures of power.” Despite election cycles that “capture the zeitgeist” and generate a media frenzy every 24 or 48 months, people believe the current system is broken and are opting out of the democratic process in record numbers, he said. He observed that more money was spent in the recent midterm elections than ever before and our country witnessed the lowest voter turnout in decades. “People’s civic lives have become decoupled from their social lives,” James added, and Brigade seeks to help remedy that.
One of the most important things the Brigade team has learned through our collective experiences in the worlds of consumer technology, politics and advocacy is that to build a strong and engaged community, we’ll have to prove to our users that their actions matter and their voices will be heard. People are cynical enough about politics, and if we’re going to be successful in our effort to help reshape democracy, we must connect Brigade users with meaningful campaigns and leading issue advocacy groups that consistently turn their supporters’ voices into real influence in the political process.
Starting today, we’re going to begin working with a carefully curated set of organizations focused on a range of high-profile issues that span the ideological and political spectrum. Our initial partners are important voices on topics like campaign finance, taxes, energy, climate change, healthcare, privacy, veteran care, drug policy and the government’s role in society. The groups will run creative, engaging campaigns on Brigade that foster deep, lasting relationships with our future users. In turn, we hope to learn from our partners’ expertise, gather feedback and create the best possible product to empower individuals to take an active role in their democracy when we launch next year.
These early relationships are just the beginning and we’ll seek out additional top-tier partnerships in the months to come. Brigade partners must have a strong public narrative and voice; believe social media is a critical channel for their campaign strategy; and view new technology as essential to their success. Their prominence, diversity of subject matter expertise and broad reach will help us form a nonpartisan network where people can express themselves, learn about friends, and find common ground with others who share their views and beliefs.
If you think your organization matches these criteria and can make a difference on Brigade, click here to apply or email us at email@example.com. We’re excited to consider additional partners and hope to create a platform that will eventually allow any individual or organization to connect and facilitate meaningful change on Brigade. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for our latest news, including information about our initial set of partners.
Brigade CEO Matt Mahan recently sat down with Tech Cocktail, a media partner for the upcoming SIME MIA 2014 tech conference in Miami to talk about what we’re building, how we’ll deliver on our company’s commitment to nonpartisanship, how to deal with voter apathy, and why American democracy is not scaling. He also offered advice for how citizens can become more civically engaged and talked about his personal connection to the burgeoning Miami startup scene.
Q: Why is American democracy not scaling?
A: Voter apathy or government is not up to date with technology and how people communicate? Solutions that work at one scale often break down at another. When our country was founded, there were about 40,000 constituents per House Representative, and the average citizen was represented by only a handful of elected officials at all levels of government. Even then, I imagine it was hard to be consistently informed and engaged. Today, each House Rep has over 700,000 constituents and the average citizen is represented by roughly 50 elected officials. The complexity of the current system is overwhelming, especially when you factor in the hundreds of thousands of PACs, advocacy groups and lobbyists that also play a key role in shaping who represents us and what decisions they make. It’s no wonder most of us are turning away from civic life and hoping that someone else is looking out for our best interests. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
Matt will join Knight Foundation CEO & President Alberto Ibargüen in a keynote conversation about improving society through technology at SIME MIA at 11:10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at the New World Center. For more information about SIME MIA click here.
Earlier today, Brigade’s CEO Matt Mahan and President James Windon joined New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg on her weekly SiriusXM show “Dot Complicated” for a post-election conversation about technology and politics. During the interview, they discussed why people — particularly young people — aren’t going to the polls and how social technologies like Brigade can help put citizens back at the center of our democracy.
“It’s not for any lack of connectivity,” James said, referencing a recent Pew Research Center study that found cell phones and social media platforms are playing an increasingly prominent role in how voters get political information and follow election news. “People have an interest in the space and are using mobile technologies to consume that content but the biggest hurdle is how do you take that motivation, that passion and interest, and turn it into action?” he said.
Brigade’s leadership knows technology is a crucial part of the solution, but so is understanding the social dynamics that exist between people offline. “We want to take those offline social dynamics that bring people together into communities where they can pool resources, make decisions, and get things done — sometimes around politics, sometimes around other issues,” Matt said.
Changing content consumption habits are also top of mind as Brigade marches toward launch next year. Consumers have become category and channel agnostic, James argued. “They no longer think: ‘Is this from TV, radio or a mobile device?’ They no longer put certain types of content in certain buckets – social, civic, entertainment.” That means companies, political campaigns, and advocacy organizations are all competing for one thing: attention.
The Brigade team believes that in this new era, the focus should be on the relationship between people and how they’re exchanging information and opinions about issues that matter to them and affect their daily lives. “We want to create a new norm for interacting civically online, but it’s [also] a recreation of a norm that existed offline throughout much of the last couple hundred years,” James said.
Missed the show? Randi’s “Dot Complicated” interview with Matt and James will rebroadcast Friday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 17 at 12 a.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. (all times Eastern) on SiriusXM Channel 111.
One week from today, Brigade will partner with the TV and digital news network Fusion for a timely post-election conversation about how technology is affecting the distribution and exercise of power. The panel, moderated by Fusion Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Alexis Madrigal, is part of Fusion RiseUp, a one-day event in Washington, D.C. that will bring together leading global activists, artists, and politicians to discuss how millennials are leading efforts for change in their world.
Panelists for “Technology’s Promise & Peril” include:
- James Windon, President, Brigade
- Sascha Meinrath, X-Lab, New America Foundation
- Gayle Karen Young, Chief Talent and Culture Officer, Wikimedia Foundation
- Marc Rotenberg, Founder & Executive Director, EPIC
- Baglan Nurhan, Senior VP of Revenue & AdOps, AnchorFree