i've been playing with essembly for the past day. it's the coolest political web site i've seen (because it's about interacting over informing) but it stops short of enabling the kind of grass roots organizing i've been hoping and searching for. [if you want to try it, email me and i'll invite you on.]
it seems like the founders are trying to keep it stealth for now as they have not responded to several emails from me (or they just dont want to talk to me.)
what's cool about it is the simple way it lets users create their own 'resolves' - kind of your own little survey or policy proposal that goes out to everyone to vote on. it's fun to watch the action in votes and comments.
also cool but not used yet are the groups functions which enable candidates, coalitions and issue campaigns to organize, set their platforms and recruit.
where it falls short for me...first, it appears to be for profit which is fine, but may drive the wrong incentives. which leads to my second issue, we lack any leadership on any front. everyone is so neutral that nothing changes. we need a web movement to reform the system (i've blogged about my hopes to create an eparty). a neutral site will devolve into a message board where people are forever fragmented.
what we need is a site that can help facilitate organization and collective voice. it should gently point out our similarities on many issues rather than essembly's simplistic (but fun) approach of showing your % correlation with another person on issues. while that's cute, i'm looking for a site that can promote my overlaps with seemingly disparate people and groups so we can form NEW coalitions that can replace the current power base.
overall, i'm psyched that these kids created essembly and see it as a big step in the right direction of 'radical democracy' and hope that they/we can take it further towards enabling real action and not just real interaction.