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Election fever: 6 mobile apps that can keep you informed

February 10, 2012 06:45 AM ET


Price: Free
OS reviewed: Android
Other OSes: None

Some people bemoan the polarization of political discourse these days. Others seem to revel in it, enjoying the adrenaline rush that comes with virtually shouting your opinions at those who disagree with you. If you're in the latter camp -- or if you harbor an optimistic idea that you can help make the level of discourse more intelligent and intelligible -- then you may want to try out VoterMap.


VoterMap is part of a group of apps built on a location-based application called YodaMap, which shares geotagged, anonymous posts via Google Maps. The idea is simple: You start a conversation on a topic (in this case, the upcoming elections) by typing text into an entry form; you can also record or attach a video or photo, or make an audio recording.

Your entry is geotagged to your location. Each entry is marked on a Google map by a blue flag. Click on a flag, and you can see (via a text bubble) how many other users have approved or disapproved the entry, how many comments have been added and how long ago the original entry appeared. There is also a button that is apparently meant to translate comments from one language to another, but it wasn't working when I tested the app.

Click again, and you can read the entire entry and the thread of comments it has generated. You can then register your own approval or disapproval, add a comment, or share the entry. You can also approve or disapprove specific comments.

It's a nice idea -- another way to encourage conversation on a topic -- and I like the idea that I can see what people are saying in other parts of the country (or the world). But for the most part, the conversation tends to remain on the "Sez you!" level, although I did find one or two reasonable threads. And, as with many social networking venues, there are a few users who seem to enjoy being a disruptive influence by inserting their rather vehement opinions into as many conversations as they can.

I'm also a little leery of how private these conversations really are. You are identified only by your general location (unless you choose to be more exact), but it is simple to zoom in on any entry to street level; considering how volatile some of these conversations get, I'd prefer that the maps didn't go down to quite that level of detail.

Bottom line

That said, if you're the type of person who likes to get into the thick of political discussion, VoterMap may be your cup of tea.

--Barbara Krasnoff

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