Braver Angels Technology Lab

Braver Angels Technology Lab is a collaborative of Braver Angels members and technologists whose work aims to reduce affective polarization at scale.   We do this through a curated portfolio of infrastructure development projects and platform pilot evaluations, each focused on a strategic dimension of the role of technology in achieving the mission of Braver Angels.   We seek to engage Braver Angels members and leaders directly in the testing and evaluation of promising technologies, as we believe our community holds unique insights into improving the role technology can play in our culture, politics, and work as a movement-building organization.

Interested in joining the lab as a volunteer or partner?  Get in touch at techlab@braverangels.org

Infrastructure Development

Systems for Volunteer-Led Event Production at Scale

Braver Angels’ signature approach to scaling up “the BA experience” is to train and support volunteers to produce events from a catalog of collaboratively-maintained workshop, debate, and discussion formats.   Braver Angels Technology Lab collaborates with our event volunteer corps to develop systems that allow for document management, training, participant management, planning, and logistics required for self-organizing teams of volunteers to succeed in  staging high impact, depolarizing experiences in local communities across the US.  This work leverages custom web applications, cloud automation, 3rd party platform integrations, and databases to achieve a unique fit with the needs of Braver Angels that cannot be readily accomplished with any single pre-existing product.

Tools for Program Evaluation and Research

A scaled, decentralized approach to program delivery creates unique challenges for evaluating program effectiveness.  Braver Angels event volunteers need real-time participant feedback on their effectiveness, and our program design teams must work closely with a team of researchers to design valid survey instruments and analysis to quantify the depolarization effects of the experiences we create.   This body of work involves implementation of online survey platforms, API integrations, data pipeline and data warehouse technologies, and online dashboard-building environments to allow each Braver Angels event team to gain live insights while also building large, consistent data sets capable of supporting academic research to advance the field of depolarization studies.

State and Alliance Infrastructure and Technology Support

Braver Angels supports the formation of local Alliances, which in-turn provide the volunteer leadership needed to anchor and grow our impact within local communities.   Alliances are supported by State and Regional levels of national volunteer leadership.  Each level within this hierarchy has data, productivity, and communications needs, as well as the need for tech capacity development.   This work entails the integration of contact relations management (CRM) tools, mass-emailing systems, and cloud collaboration platforms — as well as the onboarding, training, and support — to ensure that each Braver Angels field unit can be effective in its work.

Braver Angels 10X Growth Initiative

Building a successful political depolarization movement means winning hearts and minds at the scale of the country.  Braver Angels’ 10X Growth Initiative leads work on data-driven efforts to boost participant engagement and ensure our membership reflects the political diversity of America, and to better understand how we convert citizens from followers to ambassadors and volunteers.   These projects then drive innovation from systems and tools to marketing and communications.

Pilot Evaluations

All Braver Angels Members are invited to participate in the following social platform pilot evaluations.  

Because social platforms increasingly shape the way information is produced and consumed, and have a defining role in how we engage the bonds of civic life and community, Braver Angels believes it is important for our members to play an active role in supporting the improvement of these technologies.

Please note that as part of your participation, you may be entering into privacy and terms-of-use agreements with 3rd parties.  Social platforms are difficult to get right, and while Braver Angels has curated what we believe are promising candidates, we cannot vouch these experiences will necessarily have the desired “depolarizing effect.”  With your help, we hope to identify what works and what doesn’t!

Iris Talk

Iris Talk is an early stage startup co-founded by a Rob Ennals, a self-described discourse platform design nerd and former Facebook, Google, and Quora engineer and Lucie Repova, whose passion for free speech is rooted in her family’s struggles under authoritarianism and censorship in the former USSR.   

The key premise of Iris Talk is that productive online conversations around important topics need to be small, safe, and private.  They also believe conversations gain from viewpoint diversity and the serendipity of meeting new people.  The platform gives Braver Angels members the ability to join our private community and indicate their interests in topics with prompts curated by a Braver Angels community manager.  Participants are then entered into small topical conversations with other Braver Angels members.  The platform experience is as a live chat, with notifications, “likes,” “featured comment” nominations by participants that are then shared with the larger Braver Angels community.

Iris talk is available for web, iOS, and Android.

Continuing the Conversation

Continuing the Conversation is a project of Braver Angels Members Alexander Caskey and G. Leigh Anderson, two career technologists, one Blue, one Red, and both passionate about providing a place for Braver Angels members to connect, practice their skills, and deepen their explorations of political and cultural issues.

The platform uses widely-available web forum technologies (BBPress / Buddypress) to host discussion topics based on prompts posted by the community manager(s).   The platform is accessible in any web browser.  Interactions occur asynchronously via online comments by participants.

In Continuing the Conversation, you maintain a dialog with your workshop group, meet other members, join forum discussions, and grow your Braver Angels skills. Through topic-based forums you discuss issues, exchange viewpoints and introduce new information. You enjoy books, movies, and the occasional social Zoom gathering. Red + Blue moderation ensures all viewpoints are respected.

Braver Angels Support