So What?

Sourcing a crowd. And defying consensus.

August 14, 2015  • David Devlin-Foltz

“So What?” – Your Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact 

Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Christine Ferris

On the (mis)use of polls                                        
We get it: ours is a government of, by, and for the people – so you gotta know what they think (both 5 seconds ago and 5 seconds from now). But for many reasons (margin of error, sampling frame, question order and wording, etc.), poll results are not a smudge-free window into The Public’s Mind. Which is why some criticized Fox News’ decision to use poll results to distinguish the top 10 GOP candidates who got to sit at the adults’ debate table last week. Here’s a different top-10 list to consider: 10 reasons why polls should not be used to determine eligibility for debates.

Crowds on demand
Need a crowd to come to your wedding? Or to rally behind your cause? There’s an app for that – says Uber, which used its app and more traditional organizing approaches to mobilize consumers to oppose a proposed cap on livery vehicles in NYC. AirBnB and Lyft have also used this consumer-turned-lobbyist approach to pressure lawmakers. Our recent APEP breakfast discussion of PowerCheck and the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation made us wonder: where do Uber et al.’s activities fall in the continuum running from “authentic” citizen organizing to “astroturfing”?

The Aspen Consensus?
APEP lives at The Aspen Institute. More precisely: we live at the Institute’s Washington DC offices – as opposed to our gorgeous home campus in, well,Aspen (Colorado). The Institute convenes the best and the brightest from around the world. We challenge them to use their talents to create the good society. It’s what we do. Everybody says so. But here’s brilliant author and one of the Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows, Anand Giridharadas, questioning the consensus. And afflicting the comfortable. He’s worth your time. 


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