Sometimes we cave in to hashtags. This is one of those times.
Every once in a blue moon we’ll be putting together lists of quality nouns to follow here on the internet. We reserve the right to impose (or not) themes, heaviness, lightness, creativity, and/or consistency without warning.
This week, I’ll try to provide some resources on staying up to date on the nightmarish U.S. government situation. There are plenty of politicians and journalists to follow on Twitter, but sometimes stepping away from Crisis Alerts every two hours is necessary to keep functioning. While we plan to address quality Twitter accounts in the future, we also want to encourage mindfulness and discourage draining yourself. It’s going to be a long fight. Let’s dig in!
Today’s essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Immediately, I hope you’ll notice its mission statement ties in with this week’s goal of disconnecting: “Read in moderation”. If you take their advice, you’ll be reading a moderate summary in moderation – the first cousin of information. What The Fuck Just Happened Today? is a site (and mailing list) that strives daily to answer the query in its name, the one that many Americans ask ourselves as we are pulled into the cesspit of the new administration.
“You don’t have to wait for your representatives… All you have to do is sign up and start sending your thoughts to Congress.”
Silicon Valley has long tried to sell the idea that technology could positively influence the future, including politics. Up until now the efforts of this have been mostly concentrated in the form of lobbying or online info-dumps. Now that we live in the era of the smartphone things seem to be speeding up for digital lay-wonks. Countable explains legislation in summaries written for Washington D.C. outsiders to understand. Unlike previous efforts to illuminate the masses, it also adds a social element that allows you to vote yes or no on bills- and your vote is sent to your congresspeople. You can also look up votes cast later to help hold your lawmaker accountable.
The app allows you to send messages directly to United States Federal-level Senate and House representatives. The home screen greets you with a feed of the latest news and summaries, fitting in nicely with our goal this Follow Friday to find ways to filter and focus actions. The menu goes further in utility: My Reps, Issues, Talk To Trump, Register to Vote. You can view how your rep has voted recently and then easily tell them your opinion about it. Bills also show you more detailed information like why vote yea or nay, official details, and where the bill is in the progress of becoming law (or not).
Countable is currently run by Executives Bart Myers, NPR’s Andrea Seabrook, and Evan Dobelle – the former Mayor of Pittsfield, MA. They are joined by five advisors from the fields of communications, development, and politics.