Thursday, February 23, 2012

One Part Experience, One Part Economy

I've just returned from Atlanta, where I spent the last two days in an Accessible Elections Design Workshop put on by ITIF, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

This was the second one conducted, each time with a different group of participants.  The whole scoop is at

The workshop was very well organized and I've attached the workbook, which is a great model for ideation efforts in any industry.  The workshop featured graphic artists from Georgia Tech who made our ideas pop.

ITIF is posting the designs and is looking for specific input from you, dear reader, here:

We split into four groups and if there was a common theme, in my opinion, it was that there feels like a movement is afoot to create an improved and personalized voter experience.  I know there's been talk in the elections industry around the experience, but it feels pervasive now.

I'm sure that when transit professionals gather, they talk about the rider experience.  Same, I bet, for the library experience.  Heck, I know that in Johnson County, inmates often are called corrections customers.

Difference is, there's money in those parts of government.  I know elections are expensive, but that's largely because of the volume of persons served--it's just a scale thing.  Take 500,000 registered voters and an election that costs just $2 per registered voter and you've spent a million dollars.

$2 doesn't buy much of an experience anywhere.  I don't even think it pays for a ticket on our transit system, and it certainly won't be enough for bail for our corrections customers.

In fact, I bought a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper in the Atlanta airport  after the conference for $2.68 and that experience, from Freshen's Yogurt, wasn't as satisfying as casting my vote tomorrow will be in the Shawnee city primary.

Elections are expensive but that's because they are inclusive, for everyone, and when you count up everyone, that's a large number.  Elections aren't expensive because of the unit costs.  Elections are expensive because we have so many units.

This workshop and effort is focused on persons with disabilities.  I've learned that the largest disability bloc is comprised of persons who may not consider themselves disabled.

That makes the true experience opportunity something that is focused on person-first, then the disability (if any).  If we're living in the Experience Economy, though, we're going to have to devote some thought to the Economy part, too.

For today, though, Hail the Experience!  Part of getting somewhere is having a map, and here's small piece of ours from today.  I need some soak time myself to explain it better and I will in another post soon:

A key but subtle word here is "effective" voter participation.
More later.