How the coder who's running for Congress open sourced his campaign

Programmer Dave Cole has open-sourced his campaign website and policy stances and taken part in a Reddit AMA

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Exterior picture of the U.S. Capitol building

Dave Cole's congressional campaign is using open source

Image credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A couple of week ago I wrote about Dave Cole, a programmer who's now running for Congress from New Jersey. Cole shared some of his thoughts with me on what a programmer could bring to government and how he's managing his campaign using GitHub. Since then, there's been a few more interesting developments with Cole and his campaign that I thought would be of interest to the tech crowd.

Cole has now open-sourced the code for his campaign website, Cole for Congress, putting it up on GitHub. As Cole told me previously, the site is hosted on GitHub pages and built with Jekyll.  There are two repositories for it: one for the the code for the main part of his site and one for the code used to generate the Issues portion of his site.

Of course, by putting his site code on GitHub, this will allow supporters who'd like to help improve the site do so by submitting pull requests. Also, people can submit comments on his policy stances through a comment form on the site or by submitting a pull request to the Issues repository. As Cole adds new positions on Issues, or clarifies his existing stances, that will all be tracked and available via GitHub.

While his stance on a number of technology issues are on his site, Cole also recently addressed a number of questions during a Reddit AMA session. He received a lot of questions on a variety of issues; here are some of the interesting technology-related questions he was asked and answered:

Q: "What's your position on net neutrality?" diztorted

A: "Absolutely support it. It's vital for people in areas of the country like my district where we often only have one choice of broadband provider, as well as for small businesses that compete with larger competitors. The internet is a public utility and as such, we need to protect its openness and invest in its expansion to all people and schools in the country."

Q: "Shouldn't government be doing more to encourage competition to improve internet connectivity such as what they have done in England?" Leo4

A: "Susan Crawford proposed having municipal governments build out fiber networks that would be open to any provider. This would create competition and drive down costs, like you see in many other countries with more options. I like this idea and think we could have federal loans to provide financing to municipalities. It's an investment in people, businesses, and schools in our local communities that will pay for itself in so many ways."

Q: "What are your thoughts on Bitcoin, and the role of the federal government in regulating exchanges?" BobAlison

A: "I'm in favor of digital currency and don't support efforts to ban it. And I particularly enjoyed Rep. Polis's approach to highlighting the regulation issue: http://polis.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=371808"

Q: "What coding language would you recommend for a beginner to get the hang of before branching out to other coding languages?" Humans_Are_Weird

A: "Don't take this as any more than my opinion, but I find javascript to be a great place to start. You can easily work with it in the browser and see your work progress, and through Node.js, you can build very sophisticated and performant applications."

Q: "Mac or PC?" Aries8288

A: "Mac"

Whether you agree with his positions or not, you have to admit his open source, technology-based approach to campaigning is very different. I expect Cole and his team to make more interesting use of technology as the campaign progresses. I'll keep you updated.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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