The Brigade app is still in the beta testing stage, but it will eventually offer a simple way to take political stances online.
Sean Parker, the guy who changed the music industry when he co-founded Napster as a teenager, has announced the development of Brigade. Parker has a long-held ambition to change American democracy, and he firmly intends to try with this new app. Along with Matt Mahan, Parker has been working on the app for the last year. Although he holds lofty ambitions, he intends to fix democracy in a simplistic way.
Brigade CEO Mahan said: “The mission of the company is to empower people in their civic life and to have influence over the direction their society goes in by having them articulate and identify where they stand on issues, uncover alignment with friends, get organized into groups of like-minded people and ultimately act collectively to shape the policies that affect their lives.”
The app itself offers a stack of cards that each display a trending topic. One example might be international trade. The user can scan through a series of cards that display statements associated with the debate, such as “Massive international trade agreements hurt small businesses in America.” Users can select a position. If they are undecided, they can review more information on the topic and then make their decision. The app offers analysis on position trends and could potentially be used to gauge public opinion on a variety of subjects.
The private beta platform has 13,000 users and Brigade reports that the average user takes 90 positions. The company states that this is a high level of engagement and it has given them encouragement going forward.
Parker envisages a more sophisticated model by adding features such as starting groups for like-minded individuals, creating a profile that can be compared against other people, and data analytics for the app’s partners.
The key issue that Brigade faces is addressing the perception that the public is apathetic towards the political environment and proving to investors that the public wants to engage with issues in this way.