An Interface for Politics

December 10, 2008

What happens when we bring interface standards to bear on the experience of politics?

A project manager once assured me he would be a “human interface” between me and another programmer, meaning he would be a two-way relay, transferring questions and requests between us. This turn of phrase was by no means unique. Anyone who lives or works among the digerati can supply their own examples. It stands to reason that, after assimilating great interfaces like Google, Amazon, Tivo, and the iPhone into our lives, we would assimilate the concept of interface itself.

As interface-shaped experience permeates our lives more thoroughly, there will be mutations on multiple fronts. In this post, I will explore the political front, and propose several interfaces that would seriously alter how citizens relate to their governments.

“Politics” is shorthand for the diffuse, diverse process that stretches from voters, to parties, ideologies, and media, and then to actual politicians and bureaucracies. Since the notion of mediation is as elastic a notion as they come, the number of ways we could apply the idea of interfaces to this process is staggering. My own staring point is here doggedly user-centered. What if we were to compare a voter confronting politics to a user confronting an interface? Read the rest of this entry »