Versioned Legislature

This website is about different projects and ideas to bring the benefits of DVCS to lawmaking.

Where did this idea come from?

If you've read any number of bills, you'll have noted that they read a lot like diffs. That is, they will say things like "in the second sentence for paragraph two, section 5, change 'has' to 'has not'". What technical tool is very good at managing diffs of text over time? DVCS tools like git, hg, darcs, etc. They evolved for exactly this purpose.

The features of a DVCS even seem to match the way legislature works. For example, the work of a commitee is a branch.

What other tools do you promote?

DVCS tools are very useful, but they do not exist in a vacuum. Collaboration tools like Etherpad (a good host of which being PiratePad) are great for real-time work and drafting. Discussion tools like newsgroups and mailing lists are great for keeping track of patch proposals and discussion/consensus/voting around them. Chat tools like IRC and XMPP are also very useful.

Is anything else developed this way?

Why yes! Open web standards, especially those from the "open web community" and the IETF are developed in much this way.

Can you show me an example of a diff?

Sure. Look at this one.

Is there anything else you're specifically interested in?

We're also quite interested to see how the sort of open workflow these tools naturally allow for work out with citizens drafting their "dream" legislation. The laws they wish they had. Legislation drafted by citizens according to their own process and desires is called a "Citizens' Draft".


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