Growing up, I had many “nicknames,” so to speak. You know, like “Kir,” “Kirly,” “Kirst,” “Kirstable,” and, of course, “Jesse Chen’s little sister.” Flows right off the tongue, doesn’t?
I have to admit, though, it really never bothered me that much. Maybe it’s because there’s less competition between brothers and sisters, as opposed to siblings of the same sex. Or, maybe it’s just because Jesse and I were always so wildly different that comparison never came into question. Either way, I was always happy to know that people were impressed with my big brother. Though, between you and I: knowing Jesse as the nerd with a bowl-cut always made others’ awestruck reactions slightly entertaining… I mean, this is the same kid who wore a bass (as in the fish) shirt to school every single day for, like, a whole year in 6th grade. :)
Nevertheless. The point, here, is that 1) my big brother is awesome and 2) we’re very different people. So, why does any of this matter? Well, Jesse just launched an App called Powerline, a.k.a. the next big thing. As with anything complex or technology-related, though, it can be tough to explain it clearly right off the bat. And, sometimes, different people benefit from different explanations…
…which is why Jesse and I teamed up to draft part 1 of a Powerline 101 guide for all you dear readers to enjoy! Check out both of our responses to basic questions about the app, below. Have more questions? Comment below and we’ll cover them in another post!
1. What is Powerline?
Jesse: Powerline is a mobile app and web platform that helps leaders and communities interact more effectively with one another.
Me: You know how LinkedIn is sort of the Facebook for business engagement? Well, think Powerline as the Facebook for “civic engagement.” You'll still connect and interact with friends and acquaintances, of course, but a good deal of your interaction will also occur with leaders and groups.
2. How does Powerline work?
Jesse: Users are connected to their local, state, and national elected leaders as well as their town, state/province, and country groups. But they can create or join any group they’d like. Both elected and group leaders can send polls, petitions, discussions, fundraisers, events, and announcements to their communities. Users can create short posts or petitions in their groups which, if they reach a critical mass of support, are boosted out to the rest of the group to engage with.
Me: How does it work? Intuitively. Download the app "Powerline" from the app store. Register and Create a profile. Follow friends, (aka “influences”). View your elected reps and learn how to contact them. Then, Join or create a group – or a few! And of course, get involved by creating posts and commenting on others (somewhat similar to how statuses and tweets work, but with the added ability to make sense of people's feedback).
Still confused? Make it easy and just take “The Tour” on the left-hand scroll bar. It’s always there, so take it however many times you need!
3. What is Powerline’s purpose?
Jesse: From its founding, Powerline was designed to strengthen democracy, civic engagement, and civil society. It is purposeful technology in that it is specifically designed to simplify engagement and strengthen leader-community relationships. In recognizing the emergence of “new power”, Powerline simultaneously gives leaders the tools to engage the crowd while giving individuals several easy methods of participation in the world beyond work, family, and friends.
Me: The purpose of Powerline is to change the world. It is to make the term “Civic Engagement” come to life as it’s meant to. For countries, this means that a taxpayer's opinion matters all year-round, not just once every 2 to 4 years when elections occur. It means you have an open and continuous dialogue with your community and your leaders. However, it’s just as important to note that Powerline is not only for politics. At its foundation, it’s an app for groups to interact; which could include everything from a local student council to an LGBT Pride & Ally committee to an international AA Support Group.
*BTW, If “civic engagement” isn’t a term you throw around on the daily, don’t worry, it soon will be (keep in mind: it wasn’t all too long ago that “social media” meant nothing to most people).