A new Google-powered website lets you compare every constitution in the world and write your own

In an ornate hall in the Philadelphia State House
in 1787, a few dozen men drafted the US
constitution. For four months, they debated and
revised the document until they had something
they could generally agree on. Today, they
wouldn’t even have to leave their homes. A new
site could let any diplomats-to-be work on
drafting a new constitution in real time over the
web.

Constitute is a repository of all the world’s
constitutions ( https://www.constituteproject.org/ ) , run by the
Comparative Constitutions Project, and funded
by Google Ideas and the Indigo Trust—a British
charity that funds tech projects mainly in Africa.

Founded in 2013 (and redesigned in December),
Constitute allows users to compare phrasing
and ideas across multiple constitutions,
highlighting similarities between documents.
All of the constitutions have been translated into
English, and a selection have been translated
into Arabic ( https://www.constituteproject.org/?lang=ar ) , for the
site. The documents are entirely searchable.
Users can either choose from a list of topics to
search from—such as “equality regardless of
gender” or the “right to bear arms” (an American
favorite)—or search for common phrases. For
example, “we the people,” the famous opening
line ( http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html ) of the US
constitution, can be found in ( https://www.constituteproject.org/search?share=P2xhbmc9ZW4mcT13ZSUyMHRoZSUyMHBlb3BsZQ== )
50 of the world’s 194 constitutions.

Beyond search and comparisons, Constitute can be used to collaboratively create new constitutions,
with the help of Google Docs. A user can select
a part of a constitution, or parts from multiple
countries’ constitutions, and then export them
into a Google Doc. Like any other Google Doc,
the constitution can be worked on by multiple
people at once—James Madison and William
Paterson would now be working out their
differences on federalism over a
Google Hangout. This probably would have
come in handy when Iceland tried to crowd-
source its revisions to its constitution in 2010,
(which the parliament shot down ( http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/
future_tense/2014/07/five_lessons_from_iceland_s_failed_crowdsourced_constitution_experiment.single.html ) .)
Zachary Elkins, the director of Constitute, told
Quartz that constitutional drafters in Lybia,
Myanmar, and Nepal have all used the site. It’s
also a useful tool for those just looking to learn
more about how governments are legally
organized. Elkins said that Constitute has
a “pretty wide use, geographically.” The Arabic
language site has recently seen a spike in usage
in Saudi Arabia, a country with a new king (http://qz.com/331883/we-have-a-new-saudi-arabian-king-but-the-world-already-wants-to-know-who-will-succeed-him/ ) and no
constitution.

Hopefully with greater collaboration tools,
delegates in new nations will be able to have
more peaceable discourse about governmental
policies than those that have come before them
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_of_Charles_Sumner ) . Or perhaps
nothing will change ( http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/20/nepal-parliament-brawl-constitution-dispute ) .
Author : Mike Murphy
Source: Quartz
: http://qz.com/342936/a-new-google-powered-website-lets-you-compare-every-constitution-in-the-world-and-write-
your-own/

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