Washington Insiders Back Civic Startup Countable


A new app backed by some Washington insiders aims to make government more transparent. Countable offers one-click communication to Capitol Hill lawmakers along with short summaries of any given bill up for debate in congress.

Countable is being built by the team that founded, built, and grew SideReel.com and successfully sold that company to Rovi in 2011. Advisors include political insiders like Joe Trippi.

Countable aims to make politics more like a Buzzfeed list by offering brief summaries and pro and con arguments about any bill. Users can also tell their representatives how they’d like them to vote on the issues. After votes have been cast users will see if their representatives voted the way they wanted them to.

For congress members and their staff, Countable provides a central place to track trends for and against upcoming policy from their constituents, through data collected by the app. (Assuming that said representatives use smartphones.) Additionally, Countable gives Hill offices a means to communicate with their constituents, en masse, targeted toward those who may be interested in any specific issue. For outside groups, Countable provides a place to organize support for or opposition against any given piece of legislation, by driving membership to this easy-to-use website and app, and it allows them to learn more about constituents’ interests and trends, to see which issues are hot, and which are not.

Countable is a relative late comer to civic technology and it is interesting to see where new entrants go, in terms of forging new ground. Some of the features here are somewhat repetitive of other civic tech apps out there, but delivery as ever is key. Makers of the app claim that politics is too complex and inaccessible for regular people. While those claims are true, there are some real questions about going the other way and boiling politics down to a few bullet points, fictitious issues like death panels, FEMA camps, and government microchipping spring to mind when it comes to the potential dangers of politics listicles. The presence of Washington insiders on the advisory board is notable, although we might like to see the presence of Washington interns who’ll likely be tasked with handling any constituent messaging offer up their thoughts.