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This post comes to us from Zachary Elkins, Director of the Constitute Project. The Constitute Project was launched in 2013 as a way for constitution-makers, scholars, and everyday people to explore alternative ideas in constitutional design. -Ed. 

Constitutional reform happens more often than you might think. On average, countries around the world replace their constitutions every 19 years and amend them every two years. It’s not an easy task, even if it’s common. Constitutions are often the result of deliberation, discussion and discovery—discovery that often comes from writing together.

But collaborative writing can be challenging. It’s hard to write something with other people and still make it cohesive, harmonic and readable. These pitfalls are particularly salient for constitutions—documents that are supposed to represent the aspirations and principles of a people.

That’s where Constitute comes in. A project of the Comparative Constitutions Project and seeded by Google Ideas, Constitute allows anyone to read, search and compare every constitution in the world, indexed by topic. Constitute is built for people to analyze text, but they can move from analysis to drafting by exporting constitutional excerpts directly to Google Docs—a shared space to create and debate a new “founding” document.
Today a new set of exhibits at the National Constitution Center helps bring this hands-on approach to the general public. Created in 1988, the NCC is an interactive museum in Philadelphia dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitute exhibit has two components. The first is an installation of Constitute that invites visitors to view the U.S. Constitution (and other Constitutions) in comparative perspective.
In the second component, select visitors can put this analysis to work in a space we’re calling the “Drafting Lab.” There, people can use Constitute and Google Docs to participate with fellow drafters in each of the stages of Constitution-making—from research to deliberation to drafting.
The Lab might be the first of its kind in the world: a space for citizens and drafters of all kinds to imagine, rethink and rediscover constitutional ideas. We don’t really know what happens when drafters work simultaneously on the same piece of “parchment” (a Google Doc) and share the same workspace. So the sessions in the Drafting Lab may be illuminating for both scholars and for participants.

If you're unable to visit the NCC and do some drafting in person, you can always give it a try at home by visiting constituteproject.org.

May the constitution-making begin!

Posted by Zachary Elkins, Director, Constitute Project

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With Google Docs we want to help you work better, everywhere you are. So today’s Android and iOS updates for Docs, Sheets and Slides make it easier to get things done while you’re on the go. 

Doing, not just viewing 
You’ve asked for more editing tools on mobile, so today’s improvements include real-time spell-checking in documents, hiding rows and columns in spreadsheets, and grouping shapes in presentations.
Keeping your content safe 
Online security is really important, so we offer functionality like two-step verification to protect your Google account. Starting today, Google Docs supports Touch ID on iOS, so you can unlock Docs, Sheets and Slides with your unique fingerprint.
Making everything more accessible
If you’re blind or have low vision, we have improved support and performance for TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS to create, edit, and share files in Docs, Sheets and Slides. The updated apps also respond well to screen magnification, in case you need to zoom in for a closer look.

These updates are rolling out now, so look for them on Google Play and the App Store (Docs, Sheets, Slides), and download the new versions as they become available. For even more news and tips, you can now follow Google Docs on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

Posted by Jude Flannery, Engineering Director