CauseCaller -- one-click to create a virtual phone-bank

Fred sez,
I've just completed building the 2.0 version of Committee Caller for my master's thesis. It's called Cause Caller and it is a virtual phone bank web app powered by a Semantic Media Wiki.

I came up with the idea of automating call queues for phone banks while trying to organize one for myself, it was a total hassle to find everyone’s phone number on a particular committee, so I built CommitteeCaller last semester.  Over the last couple of months I’ve worked with several local causes to develop the idea into a generalized activist tool that is my thesis – Cause Caller. The result is a fully extendable, platform that drives a “live” VoIP application that hopefully takes a lot of the hassle out of phone banking.

Right now Cause Caller is a bit of a blank slate – while I have almost all of America’s federal politicians (Congressional representatives, Senators, etc.) in the database,  I am really interested in building state level politicians into it. Causes also need to be added as right now there are only two: the demo cause and SolarOne’s I Heart PV Cause. This is where you can help – if you are or you know any activists looking to organize phone banks, please forward this to them! I’m going to be presenting this project for my thesis at ITP on Friday, May 9th at 12:20pm, so I’ll be incorporating feedback I receive over the next week into the “results” section of my presentation.

Have fun getting in touch with democracy!

Link (Thanks, Fred!)


  1. As these things get more and more automated, the value of a call becomes less and less. Now if one could automate a handwritten letter. But nice work in any case.

  2. They should just eliminate the human factor altogether and make an app that robo-calls politicans. That would be beautiful.

  3. #1>

    Yeah, if this gets popular, then phone calls will end up having as much value as emails or online petitions, which are pretty easy to set up thanks to Facebook and that kind of thing.

    Now if you could set up Cause Caller to handle pre-recorded messages, I could see it being a VERY useful tool… Harassing politicians connected with a particular issue with a simple click of a button? It may not do much for democracy, but it would be a great stress-buster…

  4. This seems like the start of a great tool for putting pressure on the Democratic Super Delegates to make up their minds so that we don’t end up with a Jowls McBush presidency. That tool is something that we are in dire need of right now. Those people really need to start feeling the pressure.

  5. See, but congressmen and women receive complaints all the time. Why doesn’t anyone ever phone just to talk? It isn’t always about /you/, you know.

  6. The power of a campaign is proportional to the mount of human effort that goes into it. Internet petitions are pointless, because everyone knows each signature is worth 15 man/seconds. This, on the other hand, makes it possible for dedicated individuals to have a targeted impact. It does not replace human effort, it just focuses it like a laser beam. ingenious.

  7. Themagus, what I got out of it was that this application will allow you to communicate with your state and federal reps to effect some outcome that I think is specific to the individual using this “petitioning ware.” But I might be totally off base.

  8. @1 “Now if one could automate a handwritten letter.”

    I’m sure if you really tried you could find a way, it’d most likely involve creating a bank of fonts made of people’s handwritten alphabet with a special character symbolizing signatures and addresses, and some sort of programming, (all the respect in the world for you people who know how to program, I have zero of that knowledge and stare blankly at my husband and others when they talk of it), to automate a copy/paste with the font switch and send it to print. Package all the print outs and mail them together or individually and voila, handwritten letters.

  9. Ingenius, yes, but I shudder to think what will happen if this falls into the wrong hands and it is used on the public by Verizon, Comcast, all the major telecoms, the companies immune to the no-call-list. I can see it now. The sales pitch goes “With CauseCaller telemarketing is such a breeze! And costs the (huge corporate conglomerate) nothing to operate!”

  10. ck@10: Exactly my concern. On the one hand, it supports participation in government, which is good. On the other hand, it’s Web 2.0 for phone spam, which is evil. Although, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Politicians will phone screen and learn to ignore certain classes of calls, just like we do every day at home. If the database is turned on “the people”, I’ll just get more calls on my answering machine that I can safely ignore. So this is probably an overall positive. Unless it gets used for a distributed denial of phone service attack… oh, where’s my unicorn? I NEED A UNICORN!!

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