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Kevin Makice
3rdParty.org
Bloomington, IN

http://www.3rdparty.org
info@3rdparty.org
Bloomington, IN


"Every [political] conversation you start by assessing is this person Republican, are they Democrat, are they liberal, are they conservative and once you apply that label coming with it is a whole bunch of assumptions about what they believe and how they stand on certain issues and it has nothing to do with the person that you're actually supposed to be talking to - it's all about this topped out label. I want to create some conversation that really tries to humanize the way that we have these conversations so it's not just about what your stance is on gun control, it's knowing something about the makeup of the person that led to believe the things that they believe and vice versa and maybe that there's some common ground or challenge our own beliefs just by being exposed to people at that level."
Kevin Makice in a Dec. 4, 2007 Media Giraffe Project interview

Summary:
Makice has started a a virtual third-party movement while a graduate student at Indiana University

Profile posted in December 2007
By Ashley Coulombe
The Media Giraffe Project


READ FULL Q&A INTERVIEW

Kevin Makice's life is extremely busy, slightly chaotic, and consists of time split among his wife and two children and working toward a Ph.D. at the School of Informatics at Indiana University. While Makice's life, at least for the past decade, has been full of activity, he still has found time to create and design 3rdparty.org.

3rdparty.org is an online community intended to create a platform of discussion outside of the two-party system, as well as to encourage interest in national politics. Makice created the website with input and funding from co-collaborator Jeffrey Poehlmann, the idea for which came about in the late 1990s.

"We were both very, very frustrated with the party systems and the types of candidates that were coming out and the types of conversations we were having," said Makice. "So we wanted to create something that would just sort of be from the ground up to create a new party or a new political discussion."

Because of their hectic schedules, both Makice and Poehlmann have been forced to put 3rdparty.org on the back burner and return to it whenever they have time.

"But the mission is still the same," says Makice. "We want to have a different way of talking about politics and we want to construct things from scratch rather the starting with the rhetoric and the ideas that are sort of pushed from top down and being restrained by that."

The website experiences surges of users leading up to and during each presidential election, however recently has developed a serious spamming problem that Makice is working on fixing it in between semesters at Indiana University. While the website may be a side project that has continued to evolve over the past decade, Makice still has a clear idea of what he would like it to be and says his major interest "isn't so much in a formal organization as is a platform for conversation."

Makice believes in the importance and possibilities of changing the way Americans have political conversations.

"If you go to pretty much any political forum online, and there's lots and lots of places you can have a political discussion, the discussions tend to be about things at the international level, the federal level, about votes, about Supreme Court Justices, and these are all very important conversations to have," says Makice. "The reality is that people having those discussions aren't having any influence and don't really have any reach, any impact, on the decisions at that level."

Makice thinks if these conversations are moved to a more local level, about local issues, government officials become more accessible and these conversations are not only easier to have, but in some instances can actually cause change.

Eventually Makice hopes to complete repair 3rdparty.org and make it a successful website for discussion. In the meantime, while working toward his Ph.D. he puts his knowledge of technology to good use, maintaining a blog with his wife, Amy, at www.blogschmog.net The two first became interested in blogging in 2000, but began to blog seriously in 2005.

Between blogging, 3rdparty.org, and other projects that he has worked on, it is clear that Makice's main goal is to give people on the Internet a place to talk.

"Every [political] conversation you start by assessing is this person Republican, are they Democrat, are they liberal, are they conservative and once you apply that label coming with it is a whole bunch of assumptions about what they believe and how they stand on certain issues and it has nothing to do with the person that you're actually supposed to be talking to - it's all about this topped out label," explained Makice. "I want to create some conversation that really tries to humanize the way that we have these conversations so it's not just about what your stance on gun control, it's knowing something about the makeup of the person that led to believe the things that they believe and vice versa and maybe that there's some common ground or challenge our own beliefs just by being exposed to people at that level."


Ashley Coulomb is a University of Massachusetts undergraduate.