Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

How to Get a Job Like Mine


Apparently a lot of people have gotten the mistaken impression from my blog that I sit around and think about abstract philosophy all day. Well, I guess I do kind of do that, but my day job is actually much more exciting. I’m a cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (BoldProgressives.org) and I spend my days experimenting with new ways to get progressive policies enacted and progressive politicians elected.

Like a lot of people, I grew up feeling frustrated with the world — extremes of wealth and poverty, insane and bloody wars, outdated intellectual monopoly laws, big corporations run amok. But I had no idea what to do about it. Writing just felt like preaching to the choir, marching in the streets felt like the protest of the powerless, working with people on the ground just didn’t seem to scale.

But when my friend Larry Lessig decided to run for Congress, I begun to see that there was something I could do. During the short-lived campaign, we were besieged with offers of help from consultants, software companies, and services firms. Their technology was invariably outdated and incompetent (the leading tools are built on SQL Server), uncoordinated and poorly-designed. The advice they gave was horrendous, their incompetence bordered on sabotage, and the prices they charged would bankrupt us.

We started the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in January 2009 with the notion that we could fix all that. We would help filter the good consultants from the bad, write up best practices and conduct experiments to learn what works. Along the way, we got pulled into issue campaigns as well — at first going after CNBC for their terrible coverage of the economic crisis, then spending most of the last year getting Congress to pass a public option in the health care bill. Along the way, we’ve gotten over 400,000 members and raised over a million dollars for our various tactics. Not bad for our first year!

But now, as the 2010 campaigns ramp up, we’re getting back to our original mission. We’ve been working with campaigns to help them find talented staff, competent consultants, and money-saving techniques. But we also need some talented programmers to build the next generation of campaign tools. We’ve got some really exciting ideas, but we need your help.

So here’s the ask: Want to work with me on building some amazing tools for some amazing campaigns? If so, just send me an email at aaron@boldprogressives.org or just fill out this form.

Then, tell your friends. Your country needs you.

You should follow me on twitter here.

April 7, 2010


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