Civic tech struggles to make its mark

Win the Future set out to reinvigorate the Democratic Party. Instead it built a quiz app

The comedian Samantha Bee kicked off the new season of her TBS show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, last week by introducing a smartphone trivia app designed to spark voter registration. Bee copped to being a tech novice, and laid out her insecurities about her first product launch in a media preview. “We don’t have a clue if it’s going to succeed or fail,” she admitted from the stage. Sure enough, Bee’s app — This is Not a Game: The Game — crashed almost immediately, and was broken for days.

WTF’s path echoes a dynamic that has played out repeatedly when the technology industry gets into politics. People who have made fortunes in Silicon Valley periodically create tech products aimed at civic engagement, confident they can maximize their impact by leveraging their technological skills and theories of disruption. Most have had no long term impact.

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