Lindsay Newland Bowker


This conversation is closed.

"LegBook"..a combination of Facebook Skype providing any citizen with access to a plain english text of any bill before a legislative body

A proposal that would require all bills before a legisative body to be accessible instantly on line by subject in plain english toegther with information on any scheduled hearings. LegBook would also enable remote participation in public hearings, including the giving of testimony via Skype or equivalent.

LegBook would be especially valuable in enabling people in rural and remote areas, small business owners and people in blue collar jobs to monitor legislation in areas that most affect their lives and to comment on that in a timely fashion.

LegBook would also facilitate oversight and evaluation by citizen wathchdog groups who are attempting to maintain transparency in the legsilative process.

Closing Statement from Lindsay Newland Bowker

I hope that the Ted community interested in modernising democracy will return to a consideration of this idea which is all about using the internet to achieve and maintain transparency.

We create and maintain our own disenfranchisement when we don't work to uitlize the tools available to us to create and mainatin transparency.

Th plutonomy has usurped our government..we consent to that by not paying not working to undo the laws that serve the plutonomy at our expense.

I offered this conversation when I was very new hear at Ted. perhaps if I were introducing it now I would doa better job of posing it and moderating it so I take responsibiity for the fcat that this idea did not really get visited.

It is still up at my blog and we can continue the discussion there. (

  • Mar 25 2011: It's a wonderful idea in theory, but the phrase "in plain English" could be the deal breaker. Some legislation is as incomprehensible as many legal documents -- not surprising given that legislation is written by lawyers -- and getting them 'translated' into plain English could be a virtual impossibility. Obama's healthcare bill, for example, was well over 2,000 pages long, positively stuffed with exceptions, pork, conditions, and bribes, and yet it was arguably one of the most important and far reaching pieces of legislation to have been introduced to the US in 50 years. How would that be presented in plain English?

    Love the idea, doubt it would ever work.

    BUT... Instant second thoughts: How about if it were done voluntarily as a Wiki? It just might work.
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      Mar 27 2011: Thanks for your thoughts, Revett. I've written a bit of legislation and some plain english..that part is easy..and most legislation is not 100's or even dozens of pages long. I am proposing that all laws and regulations be written in plain english...not translated into plain english...and that from the outset they be drafted for circulation and discussion via the internet. IDoesn't it seem archaic that it isn't done that way?
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        Mar 27 2011: You bet it's archaic !!
      • Mar 27 2011: I emphatically agree that the way most legislation is written is archaic, but then so are most legal agreements, and they are drafted by members of the same profession. I also agree that laws SHOULD be written in plain English, but they aren't. A few years ago there was an initiative by the insurance industry to write their policies in a way that could be easily comprehended by anyone with a Grade 8 reading comprehension level (the standard used in business for understandability). It only lasted a short while, because the lawyers complained that when they write something full of whereats and heretofores, it is language that has been tested by time in the courts. I suspect you would find the same thing if you insisted all new laws be written simply and understandably.
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    Mar 23 2011: This is a facinating idea. Please consider adding it to the discussion on self government that has been running for awhile.
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      Mar 25 2011: Thank you Debra.I will follow up on blog is pretty much all about that..I see so much in the situation in Egypt that is meaningul for our frayed democracy here at home as well as for emerging democracies. Also, if you havven't discovered it already, Tom Atlee is a modern day wise man with much good thinking ( Co-Intelligence Institute) and I have noticed that although he is too much out of the spot light Ralph Nader has been doing some very good thiniking and writing on the subject of modern democracies and modern governance. As Tom would say.. co-heartedly and with graritude for your work on this. Lindsay Newland Bowker, Cove Meadow..