So we’re here at the National Constitution
Center, it’s the museum of the US constitution, for
a tech fair, to look at how technology can help people write constitutions.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were cutting and pasting from Revolutionary Era state constitutions.
In the old days you had to send parchment and books across the world…amassing a library
was a difficult thing. We need to create spaces and technologies for constitution drafting
that make collaboration and compromise possible. Constitute is an online repository of the
world’s constitutions that allows anyone with an internet connection to read, analyze, and
compare the world’s constitutions. One of the most exciting things about Constitute
is its relationship to Google Docs. Today at the National Constitution Center we’ve
convened a really unique group of constitutional drafters and others who have expertise in
constitutional design. I’m a lawyer from Kenya. I’m from Ukraine and we are currently supporting
the activities of the constitution commission. I’m current the chief technical advisor for
the Liberian constitution making process. And we’ve asked these participants to imagine
an amendment on the topic of campaign finance. They’ll use Constitute to identify what excerpts
they find most interesting, they’ll then export those excerpts directly into Google Docs,
from there they’ll collaborate on that Google Doc, they’ll mark up those documents, comment,
edit, discuss those documents in the margin. And so constitutions are supposed to be a
popular exercise, they’re supposed to be collaborative in their nature and the way that they’re made.
So all those in favor of Mugambe’s amendment as written, raise your hand. OK, so it passes. I think this would be a good tool when you’re drafting a constitution, for example, looking
clause by clause, and this will be a useful tool if you have like five or six researchers
all of them just putting their input there. How exciting the framers would have found
it, to really allow drafters to collaborate, to discuss, and to come up with constitutions
that best reflect the views of the people of their countries.