Can you describe mySociety’s mission in a sentence?
We make websites and tools that empower people to get things changed.
Do you think digital is positively disrupting the charity sector?
I think digital is positively disrupting *everything*! We live in incredible times: digital is touching every sector. Just like every other type of organisation, charities that haven’t awoken to the potential of online applications are missing out on some of the most efficient and logistically effective ways to do everything, including fundraising, campaigning, disseminating their messages, and, most crucially for us, delivering easy paths to the empowerment of users.
mySociety is a finalist in the DL100 awards – congratulations! Why do you think you’ve been chosen?
Thank you: we’re really honoured. mySociety has been running civic tech sites for over a decade now, and in these accelerated internet times, that almost makes us an institution! We’re fortunate enough to have been able to keep expanding and keep reacting to the changes on the digital scene, as well as adapting our mission to embrace the re-use of our open source code that we’ve seen across international partners.
What innovations have you got in store for the rest of 2015?
We’re really excited about that re-use of our code at the moment: it has driven us to set up Poplus in partnership with the Chilean group Ciudadano Inteligente. Poplus aims to facilitate the creation and sharing of civic technology so that groups like ours, anywhere in the world, can pick it up and use it rather than have to write their own code from scratch.
In a stable democracy like the UK, our code does good things, but it’s amazing to see what a civic or democracy-boosting website can do in countries where the people haven’t previously had access to their government’s activities or had any direct channel by which to speak to their representatives.
As well as our international work, though, we’ll be continuing to refine and improve our UK offerings. For example, TheyWorkForYou has recently added pages that make it much easier to see how your MP voted (and then contact him or her if you’d like to discuss that!). The nice thing about our twofold work is that whatever we do on one side tends to enhance the other. So, every time we add a new feature to FixMyStreet, for example, we can also roll it out to international re-users.
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