Tips to Improve Your Brigade Beta Experience

It’s been an amazing first week and we’re thrilled that our beta testers have already shared nearly a million positions and reasons, and invited thousands of friends to join them in discussing some of the most important issues facing our world. Here are some tips that we hope will improve everyone’s experience on Brigade as the community grows.

Inviting Friends

Brigade is a social place and it gets better when you invite friends to see how you compare on important issues. We’ll be adding new ways to ask people to join you (including friends who are not in your Contacts) but for now during our invite-only release: iOS users, tap on the ticket icon in the top left corner and select those who you want to invite. Android and web users, you can invite friends by clicking on the “+” button on the home screen and selecting “Invite friends.”

Writing Compelling Content

We know that some topics can get you fired up. That’s why it’s important to create your own positions and leave reasons explaining why you agree or disagree with issues. Positions are short (110-character) statements about which someone can agree or disagree. iOS users: Go to your activity feed, select the pencil icon at the top of your screen and pick an issue category. Android and web users: Click on the menu icon in the top left corner, select your activity feed and and click on the “+” icon in the bottom right. Reasons help you support your argument. They can be longer than positions and can include links. Start typing in the box that says “Why do you agree/disagree?” after you’ve written a position or after you’ve taken an existing position.

Changing Your Opinion

Yes, we know how it goes. You tapped “Agree” or “Disagree” on an opinion but then you had a change of heart — or you were convinced by a reason someone left — and you now want to switch your position. iOS and Android users: Tap the position you want to change and go through to the reasons then “…” in the top right corner. In that same drop-down menu, you can hide your opinion or report a position. Web users: Click into a position then click on the three dots in the top right corner.

Building Your Supporter Base

Think of your supporters as your allies — they’re the people you may align with across a range of issues. You can find more supporters by clicking on the people icon in the top right corner of your activity feed. Select “Supporters” at the top, and then click “Recruit more” at the bottom of the screen to view a list of people you can support. If you want more supporters, toggle over to the “Supporting” tab and click “Support more” at the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve supported more people, you can go back to “Supporters” and ask them to support you. The best way to build your supporter base is to create and share great content.

Controlling Email & Notifications

While some of you like waking up to a dozen notifications from your Brigade supporters, others may prefer a little less buzz. You can set your push notifications and email preferences by logging into your account on Brigade.com on your computer or mobile web browser. Click the menu icon in the top left corner and choose Settings. Soon you’ll be able to adjust notifications within the iOS and Android apps, too.

Got questions or comments? We love your feedback. Email us at support@brigade.com!

Democracy Starts When You Take a Stand

About a year ago, we announced our intention to create an easy, effective, and enjoyable way for people to declare their beliefs, organize with others and take action to shape the policies and elections affecting their lives. Since then we’ve been assembling a world-class team and building and testing technologies that can help us begin to fulfill that mission. We’ve gained valuable insight from hundreds of experts in politics, technology, advocacy and academia — and now we want to learn from you.

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Today Brigade is rolling out the first in a series of tools for iOS, Android and the web as an invite-only beta. It’s a place to express what you think about important issues, and see where your friends and others stand. We’ll release about a half-dozen more tools over the next year or so and we believe the 2016 campaign cycle will be a pivotal proving ground for our philosophy that technology can change democracy.

Debate, discussion and discourse are building blocks of a functioning democratic system so our first tool will enable you to:

  • Weigh in on important topics, including issues in the news
  • Write your own opinions and poll friends
  • Find out which friends and neighbors align with you, and on what issues
  • Add reasons for why you agree or disagree with opinions
  • Share your opinions across other social networks
  • Get matched with issue-oriented campaigns based on your interests
  • Build your own civic network and express what you believe in

Future releases will include tools for members of the Brigade community to start their own groups with like-minded friends and neighbors and take action, as well as some experiences around elections that will help citizens vote in line with their values. We’ll also roll out new tools and analytics for our campaign partners so they can turn their supporters’ voices into real influence in the political process.

We hope you’ll become a founding member of Brigade by requesting an invitation at brigade.com and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you already have an invite code, click here and ask 10 others to join you. Sharing your opinions on things you care about is more fun with friends!

— The Brigade Team

P.S. If you share our bold and ambitious vision and want to join our team, we’re hiring!

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Welcome Alex, Yuliya & Barr!

We’re stepping into summertime with three incredible additions to the Brigade team!

Alex Manuel: Software Engineer

1  Alex joins Brigade from Gracenote and where he developed a variety of Android applications including a music recognition app and a TV remote control app demoed at CES 2015. Prior to Gracenote, he built and maintained a mobile backend system for delivering real-time sports data at a startup that was later acquired by Yahoo. As part of the Yahoo Sports mobile team, Alex developed his sports data system into one of the largest and fastest mobile backend systems for providing real-time sports scores and statistics. In a previous life, Alex was a guitarist in several bands in the New York City area, including a show at the famed CBGBs. He changed career goals and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked on several political campaigns including Kerry 2004 and Obama 2008. When he’s not coding, Alex spends time with his wife and two daughters. He still plays a lot of guitar and recently taught himself to play the banjo.

Yuliya Popova: Content Manager

Yuli5ya comes from Flipboard where she managed hundreds of media titles, curated news and feature magazines and nurtured a community of millions of users. Yuliya’s background is in journalism, which means she’s good at asking questions and knowing there are always two sides to the story. You can find her bylines in the BBC, the New York Times and in many publications across Europe. Yuliya’s mysterious accent comes from Ukraine (where she was raised), the U.K. (where she studied journalism) and Australia (where she often traveled for sunshine and adventure) — but then she discovered San Francisco and never looked back. Yuliya can’t imagine her life without biking and reading. If she’s not with a book, she’s on a bike, pedaling all over the Bay Area.

Barr Yaron: Growth Manager

Barr 3grew up in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, and she’s excited to explore the intersection of modern politics and technology from the West Coast. Barr recently graduated from Harvard with a degree in Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics. She started her career investigating all three fields at eBay Research Labs, where she worked as a data scientist and researcher. Barr’s previous research experiences include the Technion, Wharton, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Engineering, and the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House. Now she’s looking forward to delving into analytics in the civic tech space. Outside of research, Barr also has experience working in finance at Goldman Sachs, organizing conferences for women in STEM, and teaching introductory computer science and math classes.  In her free time, she loves to dance, teach Zumba, travel and paint.

Want to work with Alex, Yuliya, Barr and the rest of the Brigade team to help put people back at the center of our democracy? We’re hiring!

‘Disrupting Democracy’ with Rand Paul

Voter participation in America has been steadily declining for the last 50 years and the 2014 midterm election marked the lowest point since the 1940s, but advances in social technologies offer promising opportunities to reverse this trend. At Brigade, we’re hard at work building tools that will allow people to declare their beliefs, organize with like-minded individuals, and take action to shape the policies and elections that affect their lives locally and nationally.

But as we seek to do that online, it’s important to orchestrate offline conversations about issues that matter. Throughout the 2016 campaign cycle, our company wants to help facilitate that dialogue and offer a forum for political leaders of all persuasions to engage directly with citizens. To kick things off, our CEO Matt Mahan will participate in a conversation with Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci on Saturday, May 9 at an event sponsored by technology and policy think tank Lincoln Labs.

“Disrupting Democracy: Growing a New Generation of Voter Engagement” will address strategies and tools that can increase voter and overall civic engagement among Americans, particularly millennials — an attractive target for Republicans and Democrats alike. “Millennials are better informed, better connected and more exposed to news,” in a wider variety and deeper form, than their parents ever were, Mahan told the Chronicle in an article published Thursday. But there’s “a skepticism or even a cynicism problem,” he said, with many millennials doubting that “their vote is relevant or impactful.”

Click here to learn more about Saturday’s sold-out event and follow along on social media at #DisruptingDemocracy. Click here to read Marinucci’s full story, Political Parties Targeting Elusive Voters — Millennials.

Is Silicon Valley the ‘Epicenter of Social Change?’

Last week, as CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff sparked a headline-grabbing debate over “religious freedom” laws in Indiana and Arkansas, our CEO Matt Mahan was asked by a reporter whether Silicon Valley, with all its wealth, prosperity and economic power, had become “the new Hollywood” for organizers of social causes.

He based his answer (that the balance of power is shifting and tech leaders are increasingly playing a bigger role in the political system) on the fact that Silicon Valley and the technology industry as a whole has captured the cultural zeitgeist of the moment. This digital revolution has been a long time coming and is starting to reshape people’s everyday lives, largely for the better.

Read Matt’s subsequent column in The Huffington Post here.

Staff Spotlight: Hao Su

We’re a team with a diverse set of skills, beliefs and passions, united in our mission to reenergize public participation in democracy. This post is part of a staff spotlight series where you’ll get to know more about our interests inside and outside of the office.

Meet Hao Su:

Hao Su     Hao Su

Q: What excites you about working at Brigade?

A: I’m excited to empower people who want to make change in addition to showing people that there is change to be made. I would love to start a real life debate with a friend over an opinion or belief of theirs that I learned about through Brigade.

Q: What’s your role at the company? What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: As an engineer, I collaborate with our product managers to help shape how we execute the company’s mission and vision. It’s empowering that our team feels real ownership of the product we’re building (and the code we’re writing) and it’s pushed me to produce better work.

Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I think either a firefighter or a garbage collector. Apparently I really liked the trucks.

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the last five years?

A: Probably how to establish and then slowly push my limits: Knowing exactly how much work I can take on and complete it well versus taking on too much and finishing none. But it’s always fun to take on a little more than expected.

Q: Have any “hidden talents”?

A: Back in college we had a student run, student designed, and student modeled fashion show called Lunar Gala. I actually designed and fabricated 20 pieces for this. I wouldn’t consider any of my “talents” as hidden.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I’ve played competitive ultimate frisbee for the past 10 years. I boulder, powerlift, and just started cycling. I’ve started learning to play the piano again. I see a lot live music, currently mostly techno and house shows with the occasional popular music festival.

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

A: My backpack. It basically carries my life. That and new music. I’m always searching for new stuff to listen to.

Want to work with Hao and help put people back at the center of our democracy?
We’re hiring!

Video: Brigade at State of the Valley 2015

Last week, Brigade CEO Matt Mahan facilitated a conversation among startup executives at the annual State of the Valley conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The session, titled “New Realities Facing Silicon Valley Startups,” focused on some of the biggest challenges and opportunities for new entrants to old markets. Featured speakers included Scanadu Co-Founder Sam De Brouwer (health); Veronica Juarez, Director of Government Relations at Lyft (transportation); Loyal 3 Chief Legal Officer Jeff Modisett (finance); Minerva Project CEO Ben Nelson (education); and Jitendra Kavathekar, Managing Director, Accenture Open Innovation.
You can watch the video above.