Google launches nation-building tool ‘Constitute’

The Constitute homepage.
The Constitute homepage.

Not content with its recent announcement of a life-extension clinic, Google has unveiled a program to help nations create constitutions. ‘Constitute’ provides a database of every founding document and amendment across the world since 1789, broken down into topics for ease of reference.

It has been endorsed by heads of state from Tunisia and Kyrgyzstan, and Sara “Scout” Sinclair Brody, Google Ideas Product Manager, says there is no catch.

Metro: How would you describe this service?

Brody: It’s a tool, and a repository. It allows people to search and compare constitutions.

Are you responding to a demand for this?

There is a specific demand, uncovered by our partners at the Comparative Constitutions Project, who have been helping countries draft constitutions for years. They built a library and used to drag it around, and then used documents in the digital age. But we were able to get it all online with tags for each topic and a beautiful interface.

Won’t world leaders now just copy each other’s homework?

On the contrary I expect more variation. All drafts before now have relied on prior texts, and in some cases copying and pasting entire clauses. If you can see what everyone else has done you can see the wealth of options, you can customize the phrasing, and make it workable for your population.

Are constitutions not outdated yet? Why do people argue over interpretation of a 300-year-old scroll?

For web junkies like me, we think of them as anachronisms – something men who have oil paintings made of them do. But five are being drafted every year, and on average they last for 17 years. I had no idea how relevant or current they could be – it can be a very political process with the power to generate improvements.

Should Google really be involved in the formation of nations, particularly those in crisis?

Some people think it’s surprising – but they should realize this is a tool for providing information, rather than seeking to have an influence.

It must be fun working at [think/do tank] Google Ideas. What do you guys do all day?

It’s really about creating partnerships, working with other organizations in parts of the world that are repressive or unstable. We try to empower people doing great work, and give it a technological twist.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

TIPS: How to take great photos during 'Manhattanhenge'

Grab your camera and make the perfect picture this Saturday.

National

Seinfeld emoji cound be available next week

Get your puffy shirts and your marble rye ready, America. Seinfeld emoji could become available as early as next week.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures July 11,…

A block party in Times Square, Bastille Day celebrations and a festival will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Thousands come to pay respects to fallen NYC…

Thousands turned out to say farewell to fallen firefighter Gordon Ambelas at St. Clare’s Church in Staten Island this morning.

Movies

Interview: Matt Reeves on directing 'Dawn of the…

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" director Matt Reeves discusses his love for the franchise, working with actors as apes and the weight of 3-D cameras.

Television

Final season of 'Glee' will be only 13…

The final season of "Glee" will officially be only 13 episodes, instead of the usual 22.

Entertainment

Complex characters, juicy scripts boost Netflix's Emmy nominations

The unconventional approach to TV at Netflix netted 31 Emmy nominations, a major achievement after plunging into original programing just last year.

Entertainment

Actor Josh Duhamel dons bunny suit to encourage…

The former Transformers star and husband to singer Fergie took to the Venice Beach boardwalk in California in a bright pink, Christmas-story inspired bunny suit Wednesday to help spread the…

NFL

Which Jets player has the best odds at…

Metro New York asked Bovada.LV to rank the top three contenders for the NFL MVP on the Jets.

World Cup

Argentina prevails in penalties, advances to final

The drama never seems to subside as the World Cup finally has its final two.

MLB

A Joffrey Ballet dancer threw the most beautiful…

http://youtu.be/Hg61JOZJrYM?t=29s While asked to throw a first pitch at a baseball game can be a treacherous and/or embarrassing experience (see Cent, 50), sometimes everything can…

World Cup

World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Sexual headaches can be…

Sexual headaches: an under-discussed health issue Location: U.S. Results: If getting frisky brings on a headache, you’re not alone. Headaches associated with sexual activity represent a…

Food

Head to FiDi for free Chia Pods from…

They may have been last summer's darlings, but chia seeds have definitely not gone out of style. A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, they…

Wellbeing

Stop thinking your diabetes risk begins above a…

When it comes to diabetes research, a new study says black and Asian adults may be at risk for developing diabetes at a lower weight…

Food

Christian Siriano inspires Magnum's color-blocked dessert

Christian Siriano, chef Andrew Carmellini and Magnum team up to create "America's Most Fashionable Chocolate Dessert."