Politics can be complicated, and partisan news outlets can make important issues even more difficult to understand.
Recent Brown University graduate Joschka Tryba has devised a way to simplify political issues for students. With a passion for politics and entrepreneurship, Tryba and his team recently launched LoveGov, a website that allows users to get political information, connect with other users and take political action online.
“The goal is to completely change the way politics is and bring the world closer to a digital democracy,” said Tryba, LoveGov’s founder and CEO.
One of LoveGov’s main functions is matching people to like-minded individuals, politicians and groups. Users can take a simple quiz when they log onto the site, which helps classify political interests.
“The website can tell you where you sit in the political space, from local to federal level, how you compare to politicians and your friends, what causes are going on, what organizations are currently active in your area and [more],” Tryba said. “People can go out and take action and make a difference rather than feel completely disconnected and powerless from the political process, which is really how I perceive the state of politics to be today.”
Tryba’s idea for LoveGov sparked last year when he was a senior at Brown and studying Commerce, Organization and Entrepreneurship. He entered his ideas in a startup business plan competition on campus, and although he did not win, he attracted an investor’s attention and began working on the project after graduation.
Tryba and his co-founder Max Fowler, who also recently graduated from Brown, noticed that students were often confused by political movements like the Tea Party, Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.
“While the people in these protests were so unified in what they were in opposition to, they had difficulty figuring out who among them would agree on what should be done to solve these problems,” Tryba said. “So there were lots of different people with different views who just got lumped together in one movement.”
The website, which is currently in its beta phase with more than 800 users, operates on a for-profit model.
“We are a for-profit company, and you know part of it is obviously because we want to make money ourselves,” Tryba said. “But mostly we did that because I believed that a social business is a better model for sustaining itself than nonprofit.”
Many NYU students found LoveGov was a helpful teaching tool.
“I think it’s great how much LoveGov facilitates the process of allowing people to sign petitions [and] contact representatives, etc., which are usually things people consider too tedious to be bothered with,” said CAS junior Matt Rosenthal. “My one concern is that it is a for-profit site, so while the mission statement declares a commitment to non-partisanship, I would still be concerned about the influence advertisements have on users.”
CAS junior Alex Silady is interested in the way the site matches users to politicians.
“The matching [system] seems interesting because it gets you thinking about seemingly minor or technical issues you’d never considered before, such as the [Food and Drug Association’s] policy on generic drugs,” Silady said. “My only … worry is that it’ll only reinforce the rigid duality of the two-party system and lock people into a purely Democratic or Republican mindset.”
Tryba said Lovegov represents the future of politics.
“Technology and computers have made such a big difference in everything in our lives, and yet government and politics have still been relatively unchanged,” Tryba said. “I really believe even if we don’t achieve this, the Internet is going to completely change the way government and democracy work.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 22 print edition. Cici Chen is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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