OurSociety Platform Roadmap

By Ron Rivers,

At its core, OurSociety is both a Free and Open Election Campaign Platform and a social movement.  Our purpose is to empower more people than ever before to become involved in their communities and beyond.  Because OurSociety is a collective social project, we want to be sure we are as transparent as possible with our planning and process.  Below you will find our Roadmap for the Free and Open Election Campaign platform.  This details the features we plan to add as we progress through our beta rollout and beyond.


Have a great idea for a feature we aren’t thinking about?  Just let us know below!

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Our Logo Explained

By Ron Rivers,

Designing on Vision

Organizational logos are a powerful way to explain your vision and organization to people in an instant, which is why we took the task of creating ours very seriously at OurSociety. Logos of successful organizations are instantly recognizable and often convey emotion and understanding associated with the feeling of using the company’s products or services. The challenge we faced in designing our logo was how to incorporate the big vision of the OurSociety experiment into a single image.

OurSociety is a centralized local governance platform designed to empower individuals to make the correct political decision easier than ever. We use the data we collect to identify trends among the voting populace and share that information with the public in the form of data based truthful information. OurSociety creates a bridge for people to have more involvement within their community without having to attend a specific town hall meeting while ensuring that the content is relevant, truthful, and accurate. Most importantly we approach this vision from a local government standpoint where it matters most, your community. What was the best way to convey this information to an artist? Is anything we said actually tangible? We had some tough questions to answer but here is what we came up with:

“The logo should convey direction/purpose and can include elements of the following: total inclusiveness (all of our society) aka coming together, data (we will be using the data we collect to impact positive social change), and should include the color purple (combo of blue and red)…”
Taken from our internal notes for the design process

 

When we received the initial artwork our entire team was in love. The check marks in the logo represent two separate pieces of data coming together to form a decision. Each individual “bar” represents information (data) provided to us by and/or given to our users.


The data comes together to form a check mark – a symbol of decision and choice. This really spoke to us because at our core we are about empowering our users to make better decisions in regards to your beliefs and interests through factual data instead of the traditional rhetoric.


Adding the dot above the check was a way to humanize the experience; creating an image of a person with arm raised in participation, saying “I’m in!” OurSociety is a collaborative project for all of us and your engagement is crucial to our collective success. Engagement can be defined as telling us about yourself and your Societal Values so that we can help vote based off of your values instead of an arbitrary party designation and/or as getting involved by submitting policy, plan, and vision articles. No matter how you choose to utilize the OurSociety utility we want you to know that your voice gets equal representation in our data, no single person regardless of political, economic, or social standing has a higher (or lower) value than you.


 

Bringing the circle of the checks together demonstrates unity with no beginning or end; participation and engagement by our users to help define OurSociety. Internally we define OurSociety as a concept rather than a product; in today’s age of exponential growth of technology and information we need to view our collective society as a social technology. As with any other technology we must constantly experiment and innovate our practices and procedures within society in order to improve them. OurSociety provides a centralized, uniform platform for creating this type of environment for improvement by utilizing data collection and aggregation to determine the wants and needs of communities both large and small. The data is released to the public to help further understanding about collective wants and to inspire collaborative projects. By fostering active participation within the OurSociety we will be able to provide clear direction and purpose for our local community governments; helping elected civil servants lead more efficiently while empowering an entirely new generation to become involved in our process.

 

Why Purple?

Purple is the combination of Red and Blue, the two current representations of American politics. At our core the OurSociety experiment is about uniting people together. In the modern information age communication is globally integrated linking us all closer together than ever before; we’re helping to update our local government practice and procedure to best take advantage of this interconnectivity in order to create more experimentation and innovation at a community level. Anyone can be involved in the OurSociety platform regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc. with equal voice and say. We care about proposed policies, plans, and visions and if a citizen is willing to commit their time into researching and developing a plan for improvement we believe they deserve to be heard. Taking advantage of our collective human capital and innovation empowers the individual citizen to have more agency within their communities and governance.

In addition to our idealistic reasoning for the color purple there is also significant data and evidence available that supports the belief that America is not majorly red or blue, but rather purple. In 2000 Robert Vanderbi of Princeton University created the first Purple America map which more accurately described the temperature of politics within the United States. The data from Purple America helps to support our message that as citizens have more in common than we think and OurSociety is going to prove it.

 

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Societal Value Matching – How does it work?

By Ron Rivers,

OurSociety – Societal Value Matching

Societal Value Matching is a core part of the OurSociety platform.  It enables users like you to make the correct choices when electing your local representatives without having to invest the time and effort into combing through many different websites to collect information about the potential candidates.  We believe that the first step in creating a more collaborative and transparent democracy is having more participation; so we’ve made it easy.

Our database currently contains 500 questions over 27 different categories.  Those categories are as follows:

 

 

Every question you answer will fit into one of these categories.  The questions we ask do not have correct answers; rather they just care about how you feel about the answer.  Our Societal Value Matching will work best if you are honest and direct with your answers.

Questions will be presented in a multiple choice format:

We use a 5-Point Scale and/or a Yes/No choice combined with an Importance Multiplier to help determine the value of this specific question to you.  If you need more time to think about the question (some of them are tough!) you can select the Answer Later option in the top right corner of the question.  Report this Question is found in the bottom left corner and designed to be used to help us keep our content within OurSociety guidelines.  While the initial 500 questions are all approved we will allow Citizen and Representative users to submit questions for the public to answer.  We love questions that make you think and won’t tolerate offensive questions, but at times we may miss something.  The reporting feature allows the OurSociety community to help keep the platform aligned with its core purpose.

How we Match

Our Societal Value Questions allow us to show you how you compare to your local elected representatives as well as potential representative candidates who are running for office.  Each time you view an individual user’s profile you see how the two of you match on specific categories, initially displaying your 4 most similar and 4 least similar but expandable to view all.  These matching percentages are unique to you and provide an overall picture of how this person aligns with your values.  Our surveying has determined that people are more interested in voting for a candidate who aligns highly with them on their top 1-3 core issues rather than someone who is moderately aligned with them on multiple issues.

How Do I Know I Can Trust My Matching Score?

We know that no calculation is perfect, but we employ specific formulas to help negate potential abuse of the platform and protect your privacy. We only calculate matches based on the common set of answers between you and a representative. We also introduce a margin of error to be even more honest and truthful! You’ll almost never see a 100% match because of this, and the more questions you answer, the more accurate our formulas will be.

Privacy

When we developed our Societal Value Matching we had a lot of tough questions to face; paramount was privacy.  We believe that every individual has the right to privacy when it comes to their individual question answers; that right does not end when someone is elected to be a public representative.  Answers to specific individual questions are not visible; only their relation to your personal answers.  This is both out of respect for privacy and to prevent the possibility of abuse of our platform.

Citizen users are not visible to anyone else on the platform unless they choose to be by running for office or becoming an elected official.  Your answers and/or matching is not visible to anyone; we thought this was important to maximize the benefit that OurSociety provides to you.  Again, we encourage you to be as truthful and thoughtful with your answers as possible to get the most value out of OurSociety.

Data

OurSociety believes in transparency as a core principle of what we are trying to create and provide the citizens of the U.S.  The data we collect will never be sold and/or given to to any person/party for any reason whatsoever.  OurSociety will use the data to identify value trends anonymously among citizens in towns, regions, and states and publish that data for the public to see and use.  One of our core principles is to create a more collaborative democracy – we believe that one of the best ways to accomplish this is to use data to provide real direction that accurately reflects the needs and desires of our user base.  If you have any questions regarding our data practices please email us at info@oursociety.org.

 

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OurSociety: Political Office Definitions

By Ron Rivers,

The following list is a compilation of elected positions within municipal governments.  Depending on the town and state these positions may vary.

  • Senate: Senators are responsible for the creation of/voting on bills (a new law). Senate members also approval major presidential appointments and approve/disapprove of treaties with foreign nations. Each State has two and they serve a six-year paid term.
  • House of Representatives: House members share responsibilities with State Senators but are represented by a total of 435 members divided proportionally among the 50 states (based off of population). Ideally, the House members represent the popular will.
  • Governor: Governors are elected as the executive of the state. They are the final signature/veto of bills based on state legislatures. Governors also present budgets, are accountable for monies within the state, and more. Governors typically have both age and residency requirements that vary per state.
  • State Senate: State Senators assist in the creation and passing of laws within a state. They are responsible for researching information about potential topics, reviewing the information researched, and working with colleagues to gain support for the legislation prior to introducing it as a bill. Upon finalizing a bill State Senators will send the bill to the Senate desk. State Senators are elected for a 2-4 year term depending on the state.
  • State Assembly: State Assembly Representatives assist in the deliberation of legislation within the state. Working with the State Senators they help to review and pass new laws within a state. State Assembly members are typically elected for a two-year term.
  • Board of County Commissioners: County Commissioners serve both the executive and legislative responsibilities. They are responsible to both enact local ordinances and supervise them. The office is typically a full-time position with a four-year term. Most often voted on by the citizens of the county. There are some variants to the definition described above.
  • County Executive: Similar to County Commissioners; County Executives are responsible for the administrative, fiscal, and representative duties at public forums. Typically elected to serve a four-year term.
  • County Auditor: County Auditors are responsible for budgets, finances, and property taxes of the operations within the county. Ideal candidates have extensive experience focused on accounting and auditing. Most often elected for a four-year term.
  • County Engineer: County Engineers are responsible for the management of construction, road, and building projects (housing, water, sewage, etc.) within a county. Ideal candidates have extensive experience focused on engineering. Candidates are elected to a four-year full-time position.
  • County Treasurer: County Treasurers are responsible for the collection and allocation of tax dollars within a county. Candidates are typically elected to a four-year term.
  • County Prosecutor: County Prosecutors are responsible for representing the legal interests of the county related to the prosecution of citizens who are accused of having broken local laws. They are typically elected to four-year terms by county citizens.
  • County Coroner: County Coroners are responsible for investigating deaths within the county that are required by law to be investigated. Used to develop information on cause and mode of death. They are typically elected to full-time, four-year terms by county citizens.
  • County Recorder: County Recorders are responsible for the maintenance of public records such as mortgages, real estate, leases, personal property, and more. Most often an elected four-year term position, it is an appointed position in some counties.
  • County Sheriff: County Sheriffs are responsible for the law enforcement operations within the county. Sheriff’s offices perform functions related to warrants/arrests, traffic control, animal enforcement, prisoner management, and more. Elected by citizens of a county for 2-6 year terms depending on the state.
  • County Freeholder: County Freeholders are responsible for legislative and executive operations of a county. Similar to County Commissioners. The term “Freeholder” is unique to New Jersey. Officials are either elected by popular vote or appointed by a board depending on the county.
  • County Surrogate: County Surrogates are responsible for the handling of estates, wills, guardianships, and adoptions within the county. They are responsible for the execution and record keeping of these tasks. Elected by citizens of the county for a five-year term.
  • Mayor: Mayors are responsible for the executive level decisions of the town including police, fire, education, and more. Elected four-year positions and can vary in time commitment (full or part-time depending on the scope of responsibility).
  • City Manager: City Managers are responsible for acting on behalf of the elected officials and the citizens they serve. Ideal candidates attend city council meetings and discuss policy, budget, and share public information with citizens. Position may be elected or appointed.
  • City Treasurer: City Treasurers are responsible for managing the financial operations of the city. Operations include banking, collections, reporting, investment, and more. Position may be elected or appointed.
  • City Auditor: City Auditors are responsible for efforts to keep city government accountable and transparent for their actions. Perform financial audits and may handle financial accounts of the city. Typically an independent official who reports to city councils and citizens. Most often a four-year part-time position.
  • City Law Director: Law Directors are responsible for representing the city’s interest in all administrative, criminal, and civil law matters. Typically an elected position with a four-year part-time term. Ideal candidates are licensed practitioners of law.
  • Council President: Council Presidents are responsible for the planning and facilitation of council meetings, agendas, and committee assignments. Engages with citizens to hear their concerns and suggestions for improvement. Typically a two-year part-time position elected by citizens of the city.
  • Council Member: Council Members (Alderman) are responsible for legislative action and policy-making within a city. In addition, City Council representatives help accomplish the city’s goals in terms of infrastructure improvements, major goals, land use, financials, and more.
  • Council Member At-Large: At-Large Council representatives are fulfill the same responsibilities as City Council representatives but are elected to serve a larger area than a more specialized City Council rep.
  • Town Council: Town Council representatives are responsible for representing the interests of their town such as promotion, supporting groups within the community, as well as managing the town’s goals as related to infrastructure improvements, major goals, land use, financials, and more. Most Town Council representatives hold two year, part-time terms.
  • School Board President: School Board Presidents are responsible for setting agendas, keeping order in meetings, and being the spokesperson for the school board. School boards establish education budgets, set and evaluate goals on a consistent basis, collaborate with voters on measures, and more. Typically School Board Presidents are elected for a two year, part-time compensated position.
  • School Board Member: School Board Members are responsible for establishing education budgets, setting and evaluating goals on a consistent basis, collaborating with voters on measures, helping to facilitate collective bargaining, choose transportation systems, and evaluating school leadership. Typically School Board Members are elected for a two year, part-time position.
  • Committee Person: Committee Persons are responsible for handling the political aspects of their designated area. This includes voter registration, Election Day operations, and more. Committee people also select a responsible for picking candidates that they want to support their political party. Committee Persons are not a supported office by the OurSociety platform.
  • Common Pleas Court Judge: Common Pleas Judges are responsible for presiding over trial courts specifically in trying and settling cases. Common Pleas Judges run for public office but position terms vary by state. Legal experience is required for this position and candidates must run on a nonpartisan ballot.

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